Welcome to the latest edition of Wonderful Women, a regular feature on Honest Mum that celebrates and provides insight into the minds of the some of the UK’s most successful and creative females.
In this feature, I speak to Baroness Margaret McDonagh, former General Secretary of the Labour Party from 1998-2001 who played a pivotal role in helping Labour win its landslide elections during her time there.
Baroness McDonagh is still instrumental within the party after she was made a life peer in 2004, taking the title Baroness McDonagh, of Mitcham and of Mordenin the London Borough of Merton.
Baroness McDonagh recently launched the incredible and worthy organisation, The Pipeline, which provides services and coaching to increase the number of women in the boardroom.
I recently heard Margaret speak at a Women in the Media event (which you can read about here) and taking in her inspiring advice, knowledge and passion for helping other women literally left me with goosebumps. I had to interview her immediately!
Over to Margaret…
Describe a typical day for you?
I work in the morning Monday to Wednesday and all day Thursday and Friday on my new passion The Pipeline. It’s an organisation established with my friend Lorna Fitzsimon to increase the numbers of female executives we have in the UK. I will frequently be teaching, coaching or meeting with companies.
In the afternoons and evenings I’m in the Lords as a working Peer. I also fit in time for the charities that I am involved with, which include AFC Wimbledon Foundation, Creative Access and the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation.
At the weekend I am with family, friends and campaigning locally for the Labour Party. I still go canvassing and leafleting. I also try and watch a football match with my 92 year old mum!
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
Helping Labour to become electable and organising the 1997 and 2001 General Elections where Labour was elected for a full term and then re-elected. Something that had not previously happened in our 100 year history.
Now I love to see women thrive at work and in life more generally.
What’s in your handbag/satchel?
The normal bag of bricks that women lug around with them each day. Assorted pens, notebook, umbrella, phone, purse ….
What are your ambitions in life?
A bit sad but I achieved mine in 1997 and 2001. My thrill now is to see people really fulfil their potential. Hoping that Hillary Clinton wins in November.
What have been the biggest learning curves of your career to date?
Gosh I have so many or maybe I just had a lot to learn:
- There are real consequences to losing an election
- Having ‘purpose’ is the most important thing at work and life and those who have it will always achieve more than those who don’t
- Leadership is so important not just a ‘nice to have’
- It’s teams that achieve most never individuals on their own
- Everything passes and you need to sometimes to just keep going and remember to laugh
- And Mark Twain was right it’s a good thing the stuff I worried about never happened and when it did I survived!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Having built a thriving organisation in The Pipeline that has helped many more women to become organisational leaders so we create more diverse businesses that are sustainable over the long term. Good for women, good for the UK economy
I also wish is to be on the other side of a General Election Campaign that Labour have won
What advice would you give a budding MP/consultant?
Never lose touch with your voters.
People’s lives and the struggles they face change quickly. Make sure you can always see issues on a macro and micro basis and understand them emotionally and factually otherwise you can never find a solution.
The same goes for companies. Always look at what you do through the eyes of your customers.
Finally, happiness is…
Sitting around a table after lunch with friends and family
For more information on Baroness Margaret McDonagh’s new project The Pipleline head to their website.