Karren Brady said that she would never date a footballer, but then she ended up marrying one and hasn’t looked back since. Born on 4 April 1969, Karren was brought up in Edmonton by her Irish father, Terry, and Italian mother, Rita. She has a brother, Darren, who now lives in Monaco and works in telecommunications. She attended a convert school in Hertfordshire, before moving on to a boarding school in Elstree. From school, at the age of 18, she began her successful career in the world of business by working for Saachi and Saachi.
Karren was always very entrepreneurial as a child, and so was her brother Darren. They were very competitive children and this brought about many arguments. They always had lots of money-making schemes on the go that included things like washing cars. Karren can even recall the time that she put up posters advertising manicures, pedicures and massages. Her mum, Rita, was not best pleased when a string of men started coming to the front door asking for massages! The family were, however, very close and Karren claims that her great upbringing made her the confident and successful business woman she is today.
Karren’s career went from strength to strength, and soon after starting work with Saachi and Saachi she moved on to work for the London Broadcasting Company as a sales executive. She then managed to make her mark on the world of football by becoming Managing Director of Birmingham City Football Club in 1993. She became known as the first woman in football and turned the club’s fortunes around by increasing the average gate of the club from 6,000 to over 30,000. In January 2010, she became Vice Chairman of West Ham United football club.
As well as being successful in the world of business, Karren has managed to become a bit of a celebrity with her numerous appearances on the TV. She is probably best known for her appearances on BBC 1’s Apprentice, where she now works alongside Alan Sugar as his right-hand woman after the departure of Margaret Mountford. During a celebrity version of the show, which was held for comic relief, Karren’s team managed to make over £750k for charity. Karren has also done a BBC 1 documentary ‘Inside Story – The Rea Life Manageress,’ as well as hosting various TV shows, including Loose Women, Live Talk and Central Weekend Live.
Karren also enjoys writing columns and writes for the Sun newspaper and Woman and Home magazine. In February 2008, she even launched her own magazine: ‘Today’s Business Woman’. She also enjoys taking an interest in other people’s work and is a judge for the Cosmopolitan Women of Achievement Awards, the Sports Industry Awards, Red magazine Women Awards and Woman and Home Awards. Karren was voted by Cosmopolitan as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world and actually won their competition for ‘Women of the Year Awards’ in November 2006. She is also chair of the Mothercare Group Foundation and an honouree fellow of the Institute of Sales and Marketing.
There have been a number of other achievements in Karren’s life as well as the Cosmoplitan Award, as she was voted ‘Business Woman of the Year’ in October 2007 and presented with the ‘Spirit of Everyman Award’ at the Nat West Everywoman Awards in December 2008. She has also been invited to attend the Queen’s Lunch for Women Achievers and Business Leaders in both 2004 and 2005. In 2010, Dr. Karren Brady was very honoured to receive a Doctorate from the University of Birmingham in Business Studies.
As a busy working mum with two children, Sophia, 14, and Paulo, 12, Karren has always been keen to strike a good work and home balance, and always strives to put her children first. Her footballer husband, Paul Peschisolido, who now manages Burton Albion football club, is always very supportive of everything she does. In 2006, however, her world nearly fell apart when she was diagnosed with a cerebral aneurysm. Karren’s busy schedule made it difficult for her to find the time to seek the relevant treatment, but fear of not seeing her family grow up forced her to seek specialist advice as soon as possible. Doctors told her that her condition was serous and she ended up having to endure a 5-hour operation, which was fortunately a success. Karren is now an Ambassador for The Stroke Association, The Well Child and The Teenage Cancer Trust.
Karren has also managed to write four books during her busy life which reflect her work in the world of football and business and they are: ‘Brady Plays the Blues, two novels, ‘United’ and ‘Trophy Wives’ and her latest book about successful women in business, ‘Playing to Win.’