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The gift of enthusiasm

After a year in Australia at the tender age of 17, I did a psychology degree because I did not know what I wanted to do. I followed it immediately with an MBA in order to pursue my rowing ambitions in London.

I left business school in 1983 knowing two things. First, I was unemployable – I wanted to make up my own experience every day. Second, I was maths- phobic and thought I was the only MBA graduate in the world who could not read a balance sheet.

So I was shocked to find myself in the financial world in the heady days of the early 80s. Self-employed with a desk and a phone at FPS Manage-ment, I started with my list of 50 names.

It was tough but fortunately I did not know any different and I did well using that extra special enthusiasm and determination you have at the start of your career. I was inspired by the chance to make a positive difference to people’s lives. In three years at FPS, I mostly learned how not to do it and gained the confidence to develop my own style. I left when it was sold.

My first venture was a company called Modern Money which I started with Marcus Payne and it is still going today. Getting started was an amazing experience. We raised 25K from a business angel (the banks would not consider us young upstarts) and found offices and staff over Christmas during a BT strike. After 18 months, Marcus and I split which enabled me to concentrate on the women’s market and in 1988, I launched Fiona Price & Partners in two converted piano practice rooms over Wigmore Hall.

I ran the business for 17 years before selling it to Destini in 2004. It is amaz-ing and scary to start something with a blank sheet. Every day brings something new and the spontaneity of decisions gives you immediate feed-back – positive and negative.

Business has taught me a huge amount about life and provided a far better education than any classroom. But I had to reinvent myself and the business several times to stay interested over such a long period.

For example, moving out of advising into full-time communications and management and setting up the Women’s Financial Adviser Group (WFA).

When I sold, it turned out to be Destini of more than one kind as I met David Collett (deputy chairman of Thinc Destini) who is now my life partner.

In the last two years, I have developed a classic portfolio career which has satisfied my appetite for variety, spanning the financial sector, the broader business world and Government. I took on the role of director of communications for Destini Group in August 2004 and used my PR experience to build its media profile. I carried on until the merger with Thinc was complete. While main-taining my WFA role, I also became a non-executive director at Business Link for London and joined the Government’s small business council.

I have been involved in training and am a director of a property company, as well as advising other businesses on communications.

What next? I am hoping for a second career in media (although I intend to keep some business interests too). I am thinning down my current portfolio in anticipation of the new direction and am in discussions with a number of TV and radio producers about presenting the next generation of business programmes so I won’t be far away.

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