Caroline Theobald

POW Board Member, Northumberland

Sector: Education and Training

Caroline Theobald moved from London to the North-East, where she struggled with the gender imbalance of the north. This encouraged her role as one of the Power of Women directors, as well as co-owner of enterprise training company, FIRST. 

Where do you call home? 

I come from the south, but I’m a proud northerner by marriage. My late husband was a commercial fisherman from North Shields. I raised the children there and then moved to Northumberland when they’d both left home to pursue their own careers. I now live in the middle of the country surrounded by fields and in the company of sheep and horses. 

Tell us about your role?  

I do a couple of things. I’m proud to be one of the founding directors of the Power of Women campaign, but I also co-own a company called FIRST that provides enterprise training and development to young people and business founders. It’s very important to me that people behave responsibly to help the planet and our communities, so I set up the North East Initiative on Business Ethics (NIBE). I also chair the advisory board of Newcastle Business school, Northumbria University and am an associate of Teesside University.  

How did you get to where you are today? 

By knowing what was important to me and always learning and exploring new things. My guiding principle is that everyone, regardless of where they live and what gender and ethnicity they are, can live their best life. 

A lot of my working life has been trial, error and hard work. I never give up: persistence and determination are omnipotent. 

What struggles or obstacles did you face along the way? 

One of my biggest challenges when I moved to the North-East was that I was a woman. I’d had senior roles working in London, but moving to the North-East I had to hire a male secretary to book appointments for myself. When I set up Bridge Club Ltd, this gender imbalance was really tough in the early days and I devised lots of ways of getting around not being taken seriously (and lacking in self-belief). They included going to events with someone else, always arranging meetings with backup, delegating, relying on formal and informal advisors and supporters and asking for help. 

Describe the moment you first got a feel for success? 

It wasn’t so much a lightbulb moment, it was more of a realisation that if I was going to have the success I wanted, I had to know what success meant to me – to really own that meaning and be proud of it, and then to stand up for myself so that I could really achieve it.  

Do you have any advice to aspiring young females? 

You absolutely have to believe in yourself if you want other people to believe in you. You also have to be authentic and true to yourself. Don’t try too much to be someone else, it won’t work. Also, ask for help and ask questions. There’s no such thing as a stupid question and people really like being asked to help – it makes them feel good. 

What advice would you give for your younger self?  

Believe you can and then dream big. If you only dream of the rooftop, you’ll never get out of the highest room. Try always to be positive and don’t give up.  

What three words inspire you and encourage a positive path?  

Just do it. 

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