We’re thrilled about our new interview series that celebrates stylish women in leadership and executive roles. You’ll get personal insights about their role models and inspiration, how these amazing ladies get their teams excited, and what wardrobe and grooming choices they make to give their performance an extra boost of confidence. — Tell us what you think in the comments.
Today’s stylish leader is Sam Hurren. She’s English so we’ll keep the praise to a minimum as she will roll her eyes at any gushing. But this London lady is a force to be reckoned with and someone you’d be happy to have in your corner. She keeps close friendships, is fiercely independent, actively champions the success of those around her, and you can equally talk as well as party through the night with her. Enough said. Let’s go:
Tell us a little bit about who you are and where you are in your career.
I’m a Brit, living in New York. A Finance Director for a Global Communications Agency by day. Record label owner at Enclaves, script reader, writer and producer as hobbies.
Do you have role models you draw inspiration from for your life and career?
I always wanted to be Kate Adie. She’s a journalist and author. A one time war reporter and BBC Chief News Correspondent. Her influence over me as a role model has been her determination, independence, and fearlessness. She’s a class act.
A fictional character I always identified with was Melanie Griffith in the film Working Girl. I still see myself as that girl from a working class family in London having no business dreaming of one time being an exec in Manhattan but there I am donning my sneakers everyday to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. I just hope I have slightly better hair and style.
(Check out a light-hearted list of the Working Girl quotes and how they apply to today’s women in business in this Forbes article. -ed.)
Are there any habits or rituals that make you feel at the top of your game before a public appearance, a client meeting, or a critical team meeting?
Mostly old school stuff. Preparation, know your stuff. What also goes a long way is a good night’s sleep and breakfast.
If you have to get a group of people excited, what works best for you?
I’m pretty passionate and I think it is important to be around those you lead. People will see that passion and feed off it. That can be pretty exciting for them. Really believe in what you are doing and others will believe in it too.
If we asked the people around you what your leadership style was, what words do you think would come up?
Teamwork will come up. My goal is always to build a strong team. Hire the people who know more than you. I’m focussed on solutions and have a pretty firm rule: Don’t make your problem, my problem! And I’m sure someone would bring up directness. It’s key to be clear about what your are asking. ‘I think” doesn’t work for me. “I know” is much better.
What are some of your go-to outfits, hair or makeup styles that make you feel most confident in any business situation?
I think first it’s important to play to your audience. I wouldn’t wear the same clothes to an investment meeting as I would meeting a band for my label. Its important to be comfortable and covered – I want them focusing on what I am saying and not what I am wearing or showing! I also have a rule – no toes or armpits – that should steer you in the right direction. I believe it is an instruction from the Queen of England when invited to the palace.
I never wear my hair down. I find it distracting & I feel vulnerable. It’s usually in a pony tale, a bun or a braid. I wear minimal make-up. I’m not a fan of masks & like to see people’s faces clearly. I am distracted by lots of make up on others so therefore wear little to none myself. For meetings, I like the classic & androgynous look with feminine & on trend accessories & shoes. I like good tailored classic clothes that fit well. A tailored black pair of loose fitting trousers with fashionable high heels, a shirt rolled to the elbow in a pin stripe or fine polka dot, perhaps a peter pan collar. I like blacks, whites & greys and am a fan of colour blocking for meetings.
Guys just have to throw on a suit and tie and look “business,” we have so many options. Are there any ladies out there you think get the balance between stylish and business just right?
I can only think of one who is well known – Jenna Lyons, President of J Crew.
If you were giving a piece of advice to a group of young women about to embark on their careers, what would it be?
- Find a good mentor
- Don’t take anything personally
- Work hard, think smarter
- Make sure everybody knows your name & for the right reasons
- Have faith in nothing & nobody but yourself
- Be well rounded – travel, learn a language, have hobbies. Be interesting & people will be interested.
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us, Sam.
Check out the other Leadership, Stylish interviews. Enjoy!