Women in Business Series: Lorraine Birch

With International Women’s Day on March 8, Bottomline online asked five women in business to share their experiences of the current economic situation and how they are driving their business forward. Today we feature Lorraine Birch, managing director, Ibex IM.


How has your business performed in the past 12 months?


We have performed above targets for both turnover and profit, which is very positive – but it hasn’t been easy, particularly with operational changes at the same time.


And the outlook for 2012?


Currently well into our financial year and keeping up with targets, may even be sneaking ahead but wouldn’t want to tempt fate. As with last year, being in this position is not easy and requires a really concerted effort from the team. We have also invested heavily this year to increase our service offering so we need to ensure the return on this is achieved as soon as possible. It’s a tricky balancing act but I’m feeling optimistic for the period.


Has your management style changed as a result of the recession?


Yes. In previous years we have seemed to bumble along nicely, but due to the necessity to keep up with the market, offer additional value to clients, meet financial targets and so on, I have found that communicating the objectives of the business to the team is vital so that they all work in the right direction with a level of understanding. It’s been a change from a ‘need to know basis’ to a ‘share all policy’, even if it isn’t always positive news, some people understand, some take more work.


Has the recession taught you anything new?


Don’t let it put you off expanding. I think the immediate reaction is to shrink away, pull in the purse strings and wait. That doesn’t achieve anything; if you have confidence in your product, have a healthy pipeline and targets are being met, it is worth taking the leap, as long as it’s a calculated risk and the yields can be achieved.


What has been the best piece of advice you have ever received?


Meditate. No really, I am a worrier by nature and a good friend once said to me ‘don’t worry about what you can’t control’ so I do try to adopt this on a daily basis.


Which business person inspires you the most?


I admire a lot of business people that I read or hear about, and anyone who has the guts, integrity, passion and belief to start a business deserves admiration. I am not very good at sitting and opening up regarding business so have probably not had that much direct advice, but if anyone has anything to share, I am all ears.