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Manchester High School for Girls

Annette Kurer

Annette Kurer is the CEO of ark consultants. She is an International Leadership and Business Consultant and motivational Speaker

What was your experience at Manchester High like? How do you feel it helped to shape the person you are today?

I started Manchester High in Prep at 4½ years of age when it was still in Didsbury and I have so many happy memories, which I refer to every so often. Life is no fun if you have no happy memories. I progressed to senior school which meant I was at MHSG for 14 years. It helped me shape the person I am today as I NEVER considered that there was a difference between what I could achieve as a woman versus that of any man.

Were there any teachers who made a particular impression on you?

In the senior school I had a PE teacher who was also a swimming coach and she was so encouraging and motivational and she made me believe I could always improve whatever my starting point was.

What did you do after Manchester High?

I qualified as a dentist from Guys and St Thomas Hospital and after working in general dental practice for a short time decided there was more to having a career than being stuck in 4 walls day in day out.

I worked in advertising and publishing for Pearl & Dean for three years whilst still practising as a dentist one evening a week and every Saturday. I was working with all the tobacco, liquor, perfume and prestigious gift companies and travelled the world attending trade exhibitions and meeting clients.

Next I worked for Unilever Cosmetics International for 12 years as a Sales Director managing the Calvin Klein fragrance business in over 20 countries including Middle East, Nordic markets and Europe. I launched 10 number one fragrances as well as single handedly launching CK One in UK duty free, which was the biggest launch ever.

At the point where I was managing a £30million pound business and solely accountable for delivering the revenue and bottom line profitability I realised I had become a number cruncher and removed from the people I valued the most.

During my last 18 months I qualified as an Executive and Business Coach, NLP practitioner and attended numerous programmes so that I could refocus on developing people to be their best selves. I also worked for an American training company for 16 months which provided soft skills programmes to global companies and I became an accredited Presentation Skills trainer.

In March 2004 I launched Ark Consultants, which provides business consultancy to SMEs and Start Ups, coaching to leaders and senior managers to develop their leadership & effective communication skills and relationship management and training programmes for teams to build greater engagement with stakeholders when presenting, leading meetings and briefing their managers.

What routes can be taken to enter into this type of career?

I would encourage anyone interested in my type of career to embrace continuous self-development such as learning on a daily basis in the workplace, receiving mentoring, networking and participating in webinars and seminars.

Effective communication and relationship management are also skills that you can continue to develop to ensure your competitive edge regardless of what is happening to your company, the economy or Brexit.

What has been the highlight of your career?

Launching CK One completely on my own taught me the importance of cross-functional communication as I had to manage every function myself  including sales, advertising, PR, training, ordering, shipping, merchandising, hiring staff and decorating promotion sites; all whilst being five months pregnant with my first son!

I have also immensely enjoyed delivering my motivational workshops “Worrier to Warrior” internationally: “Worrier to Warrior” as I have met so many amazing people.

Where can you see yourself in five years?

I aim to become a global motivational speaker, empowering intellectually competent people to promote themselves in an authentic manner to progress their career in the direction that works for them without being held back by gender, ethnicity, disability or diverse cognitive thought.

I am currently launching a year-long training programme at the Ministry of Justice to enhance diversity and inclusion and I would like to this to roll out across all Government Departments and Private Sectors so that intellectually competent people gain executive presence and confidence to progress their career without being held back by prejudice.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I have a few interests including stone carving, acrylic painting and cycling. I also do voluntary work including answering calls and being a supervisor on a telephone Helpline which can be both challenging and rewarding.

What advice would you give to girls considering your career?

  • Develop your Self-belief: once you have intellectual competence make sure you gain executive presence and confidence to speak up, be heard and advance your career whilst remaining true to yourself.
  • Select “Sponsors”: Ask for support from people you view as role models to promote and mentor you to progress your career.
  • Be your BEST AUTHENTIC SELF: Learn, practice and promote yourself whilst continually evaluating your work/life balance. Your life is more valuable than any job.