My brilliant new career: From Saatchi ad guru to founder of Lady Geek

Belinda Parmar left her well-paid job at renowned ad agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, to develop her dream of owning her own business and set up Lady Geek

‘When I was a little girl, I always wanted to run my own business or be an actress – I feel so lucky that I’m able to live out my dream. In the same way that Jeremy Clarkson makes cars accessible to men and women, I want Lady Geek to be the ‘Top Gear’ of technology – for women.

I graduated from Manchester University with a French and Spanish degree and enrolled in a graduate scheme with a bank. That was a defining moment as it taught me exactly what I didn’t want from my career. It was too structured and hierarchical: I wanted to make a difference and be creative.

So, I moved into advertising and gradually worked my way up to marketing planning director at Saatchi. I found it a very masculine environment but it taught me a lot – like how to just go for it and get things done, not wait around to ask permission!

But I hated leaving my two young children with the nanny every day to go to the office and I wanted to do something more worthwhile. So, I took a huge risk and left my well-paid job at Saatchi and founded Lady Geek – a campaigning agency to promote women and technology.

I realised there was a market for helping women understand technology through education – as well as helping gaming companies and the computer industry sell to women.

Lady Geek wants to change the way women view technology. We need to start teaching girls from a young age how to develop apps and create websites – things that will help with their careers.

Women can’t be afraid of technology: we need to embrace it.

For two months, I met with lots of different people trying to gain clients, but I got my big break when I landed my first big client: Nokia.

Of course, there have been downsides: I remember talking at a developer conference filled with men trying to explain the benefits of making technology more accessible to women. My badge said ‘Lady Greek’ and I just wanted to curl up in a ball and hide but you have to keep going. I’m not a natural risk taker but I was determined to succeed.

My advice for anyone wanting to start their own business is: you don’t know what you are capable of until you try. I used to convince myself that I couldn’t do things – but you can be good at everything, if you push yourself!’

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