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Gail Connolly, MGC 1963 Leaver

Malvern Alumnae 100 Gay Haines

In 2016, I was surprised, flattered and delighted to be included in The Sunday Times/Debrett’s 500 Most Influential People in the UK – something I could never have imagined when I first started my life in advertising. The very notion would have been absurd.

For 13 years, I had the privilege of working at some of the best agencies in London: Y&R, CDP and JWT. In 1993, in need of a change, I bought out the founding partners of Kendall Tarrant. My ambition from day one was to try to take the business of headhunting onto a different plane.

Kendall Tarrant grew quickly and in 1996 I floated the company on the London stock market in order to raise the money to build a global business that could partner agencies around the world.  Over the next few years, we opened offices in New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Australia. Kendall Tarrant became the pre-eminent global headhunting firm in the communications sector.

In 2006, I took the decision to set up a different kind of offering - one that concentrated solely on senior briefs and candidates around the world. Grace Blue was born in September 2006, and from the beginning was blessed with the support of many of the most talented and respected communications practitioners, both as clients and candidates.

In 2014, I bought a building and developed a hotel in Ramsgate.  The refurbishment of Albion House was difficult and challenging, but very exciting. Once the holiday home of Queen Victoria, it is now one of the most respected hotels in Kent.  I have no idea why I thought it would be a good idea - on paper it was a mad decision for someone who had no idea how to run a hotel!

What does success look like?

For me success has always come about as a result of finding partners who I like, trust and respect.  I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with some remarkable people who have been wonderfully supportive and brilliant.

What is your best piece of advice?

Do the right thing and fear nothing.  Be fearless and assume that anything is possible.