career lessons

Career lessons from three female pioneers of unconvention

Sometimes the road to career success isn't always a smooth one. But, as these three trailblazers prove, you can still achieve your dreams

These three female pioneers of unconvention prove that the road to success isn’t always a smooth one…

Ava DuVernay, 46, film director

‘If you’re on a path that’s not the one that you want to be on, you can pivot, and you can also move, and age doesn’t make a difference, [nor does] race, gender.’

The Oscar-nominated director of Selma and A Wrinkle In Time – for which she was the 
first African-American woman to direct a film with a budget over $100 million – Ava Duvernay started out interning as a news journalist. She moved into PR, founding her own agency in 1999. It was at the age of 32 that she picked up a camera and started taking directing classes.

Angela Ahrendts, 58, senior VP of retail at Apple

‘At some point in your career, maybe you too have made the life-altering decision to start anew. If so, you know first-hand how exciting, challenging, and sometimes disorienting the first 30, 60, 90 days can be.’

Apple’s senior vice president of retail (and the brand’s highest paid executive), Angela Ahrendts started her career in fashion. From a merchandising role at a lingerie company, she moved to Donna Karan, Liz Claiborne and, most famously, was CEO of Burberry from 2006-2014, where her leadership escalated the firm’s value from £2 billion to over £7 billion.

Whitney Wolfe Herd, 29, founder of Bumble

‘Often, the best jobs come out of just meeting people and letting one thing lead 
to another.’

After a degree in international studies, Wolfe Herd turned down ‘safe’ corporate job offers for a role at a tech incubator funded to make apps. There, she co-founded Tinder, but left in 2014 following sexual-harassment claims. Despite vowing never to go back into online dating, she came up with the idea for female-focused dating app Bumble, which Forbes values at over $1 billion.

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