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TGT Meets... Elaine Wrigley - IWD Special

TGT Meets... Elaine Wrigley - IWD Special

In another of our International Women's Day specials we sat down with Elaine Wrigley, Owner of the much loved Atlas Bar and Head of Retail at New Look.

Name: Elaine Wrigley 

Location: Manchester 

Occupation: Owner of Atlas Bar Manchester and Head of Retail at New Look 

Which woman would you compare yourself to (or if a comparison is too hard, someone you aspire to be like)? 

I’m a firm believer in being the best that I can be, in both my personal and professional life. There are certainly numerous women, who I’ve been either fortunate enough to know, or respect and admire from afar, for so many reasons. 

My Mum brought me up to seek out new experiences, travel the world, work hard, and understand the importance of giving. My Grandma brought up four siblings from the age of fourteen. Resilience was a true strength of hers and she always saw the positive in situations and oozed energy and a zest for life. I’ve learned from so many work colleagues, male and female, over the years, and believe that continuing to learn and improve is key. 

What’s great about being a woman in business?

In my early retail career, I honestly didn’t consciously think about being a woman in business. As I’ve matured and progressed, however, I’ve become increasingly aware of the need to be a role model/mentor for other females and the positive difference that this can make; particularly when men still hold so many of the senior roles. I feel privileged to be in a position where I can provide tangible support to other women in business and those aspiring to take a similar career path, to my own.  

Do you think it's important to have an International Women's Day? 

This is a great question and one that I’ve often thought about; alongside other questions, such as are quotas for women on boards right/necessary. 

In answer though, it’s critically important until we get to a place where equitable conditions truly do exist, across the globe, and we stop even needing to talk about it. Celebrating achievements and supporting each other, rather than being our own worst enemies, at times, is also important. 

Do you have family (and/or children)? How do you maintain a work/life balance? 

My husband and I have four children between us, all grown up now. It would also not be true, if I said that my work/life balance had never been compromised! There have certainly been times, over the years, where I’ve missed an event, or been late, due to travel challenges. 

Working hard and playing hard, when it’s family time, is the norm for us, but making the most of every moment and opportunity is key. Our most challenging time was when we started out with Atlas Bar, which we both did alongside busy ‘’day jobs.’’ I also had fantastic support from my parents, when the children were younger, and my husband and I have always been a true team, at home, which is definitely the key to success. 

Have you ever had to give up or miss out on anything in order to pursue your career? 

When Mark and I first started on our Atlas Bar journey, we got very little down time, but we were clear as to why we were working so hard and were in it together. 

When my children were small, I was also a single Mum, for nine years, and there were times when being the only income earner, that I had to be at work in order to give them the best life and opportunities that I could. Whilst not being able to pick them up from school, every night, they certainly see the positives in working hard and we have always made the most of our time together. 

I have turned down opportunities to progress, in the past, if the location did not work at the time for us, as a family. The key thing is to be clear about your priorities when you make your decision. I’ve been fortunate enough to bring up a family, progress in my career and open our own business, whilst enjoying our life, too. 

Do you ever experience any discrimination in the work place because of your gender? 

Sadly, I have experienced discrimination in the workplace because of my gender, in the past. I left the business, as a result of this, because I wouldn't tolerate my values being compromised. It is truly sad that such behavior exists, but the more we stand up and show that it won’t be tolerated, the sooner it will cease to occur. 

What advice / tip would you pass on to the next generation of women in Business? 

Work hard, listen to feedback, it’s there to help, challenge yourself to keep learning and seek out some great mentors and coaches. I’ve been lucky enough to have some fantastic ones over the years. Networking is very positive, taking risks is key, step outside your comfort zone and always seize the moment. You don’t need to know how to do something 100%, before you do it! 

Do men ever feel intimidated by your success? 

I’ve never felt this to be the case and I certainly don’t see myself as being at all intimidating. I’m fortunate to have a lot of male supporters who’ve encouraged and supported me along my journey. 

If you could have dinner with 5 inspirational women dead or alive, who would they be? 

Wow! Such a hard question. There are so many, but I’ll give it a go. 

In no particular order: - 

Joanna Lumley – I’d love to hear about her travels, how she rallied so many to support her fight for the Gurkas, and I’d obviously love to ask her alter-ego Patsy, what her favourite gin is! 

Michelle Obama – I’d relish the opportunity to explore the challenges she’s faced as First Lady, hear about what’s next for her and ask whether she might still run for President! 

Dame Maggie Smith – She’d be huge fun; such a sharp wit, but I’d love to explore her world of acting and hear about her most memorable moments 

Christine LaGarde – I heard her interview on Hard Talk, some years ago, and she was articulate and fascinating. She’s held some extremely interesting roles and followed a diverse career path which I’d love to hear about. 

The Queen – She’s led our country for so long and seen so much change. I’d love to hear her stories and of course, she’s partial to the odd G&T, too!    

As a successful female, where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time? 

Gosh. If you’d told me ten years ago that I’d be running Atlas Bar, alongside my ‘’day job,’’ I’d have thought you were mad! It wasn’t in my plan, at all. It’s a great example of seizing an opportunity and working hard, to make it work. It’s enormous fun, too, and I love being part of this great city of ours. I really do love Manchester. It’s so vibrant. 

On a serious note, however, I wish to still be healthy, happy, living life to the full, and Atlas Bar continuing to develop and grow. Perhaps even own more than one bar! 


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