This week international bestselling author L.J. Ross and leading businesswomen Baroness Dido Harding and entrepreneurs Sarah Harvey and Pip Black, spoke to our employees on how a breadth of experience working across a range of sectors, has helped them succeed in their careers.

In an inspirational session run by women@ - our employee affinity group committed to attracting, developing and retaining the most talented women across Amazon - L.J. Ross, author of the international bestselling series of DCI Ryan mystery novels, explained how her background as a lawyer with the Financial Services Authority and Greater London Authority helped her see the value of ‘realism over idealism’ for those who want to create positive social change.

While faced by a host of emotionally challenging cases throughout her career, Louise would find solace in works of fiction from luminaries such as Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle. Inspired by these writers and her upbringing in Northumberland, she finally chose to pursue a full-time career as a novelist – and found success with the help of Amazon Kindle’s Direct Publishing, which enables you to self-publish to readers around the world.

Baroness Harding, Conservative peer and ex-chief executive of TalkTalk, discussed how she considers her professional and private lives to be inseparable. With her childhood ambitions of becoming a jump jockey bundled together with clear-eyed ambition and a natural flair for “compassionate leadership”, these attributes have seen her hold senior roles at a number of household name companies, including Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
Having had her first daughter at 38, Baroness Harding explained how it is possible to achieve work-life balance while having children and working abroad: “I think becoming a mother helped me to become a more effective leader, and maybe I would have been a useless leader without motherhood!”

Former UK lead for mobile payments company Square, Sarah Harvey explained how her eclectic experience across the public and private sectors has benefited her latest ventures. From international development in the Congo, to Bain Capital, the Gates Foundation and Tough Mudder, Sarah feels the only consistent theme of her career has been the familiar sense of being challenged and stretched. With her latest project just six weeks young, we wish her luck!

Finally Pip Black, co-founder of boutique gym Frame, discussed how she is energised by the hands-on challenges involved in growing a new gym business. Whether she’s making high-level decisions on branding and expansion, or getting stuck in to the plumbing on a new site, Pip’s can-do response to these challenges has allowed her to carve out a unique path within the fitness industry.