Sector: Customer Service
Diana Bourke wanted to break the mould of what people think a successful businessperson should look and sound like when she opened her company Echo-u. Today she employs over 600 staff and the company is a multi-million-pound organisation.
Where do you call home?
I live and work in Newcastle with my two children. My parents are still in Ireland, so I spend a lot of time at my home over there.
Tell us about your role?
I founded and now run a multi-million-pound organisation called Echo-u. I employ over 600 staff. We provide customer service and social media support to brands like JD Sports, DPD and a few others.
How did you get to where you are today?
At 28 I had just gone into remission from lymphatic cancer and decided I wanted to work for myself and shape a company that was built on fairness and kindness. I started with five pcs and a lot of enthusiasm. I worked on the business in the mornings and took calls as an advisor in the evenings. Over 20 years later I have grown the business and we have three sites (Newcastle, Bournemouth and Middlesbrough) working with some amazing people and companies along the way. We now turnover over £11 million per year and have hundreds of staff but I would like to think we’re still a kind and compassionate company.
What struggles or obstacles did you face along the way?
Personally, I had two children in the time I was building the business and continued to be a working, single mum – lots of juggling and multi-tasking but I did it! The company has had great success but also lost business and people along the way. However, it’s easy to run a successful business – you show your true worth as a leader when the going gets tough and you turn the situation around.
Describe the moment you first got a feel for success?
Having been so ill prior to running my own business meant I never put pressure on myself to be successful – as I was already a success as I had beaten cancer. We put too much pressure on ourselves to fit a mould of success – success is something different to every person. To some it’s money and recognition, to others it’s being happy with family – both are valid. So, my success is my children and providing for them, breaking the mould of what people think a successful businessperson should look and sound like.
Do you have any advice for aspiring young females?
Just be proud of who you are, as a female you will have so many different and sometimes difficult choices to make but there is not a wrong or right.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Enjoy thinking and being a bit different and don’t be embarrassed to say you are ambitious and might want a different life to your peer group. I spent so long trying to fit in – but as I got older I realised I was never going to conform. And now I celebrate it as it has allowed me to be build a company my own way.
What three words inspire you and encourage a positive path?
I always read Maya Angelou ‘Still I rise” when I need a lift and I’m known for blasting my music in the car before an important meeting. Music is great motivator “so what I’m still a Rockstar” – Pink.
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