From typewriter to the top

LINDA AGRAN is chief executive of Agran Barton Television. She started out as a secretary, in the travel office of the Dunlop Rubber Company. Now 50, her first big break came at 25, when she became European Head of Creative Affairs for Warner Brothers. She reached her present niche in the independent sector via Euston Films and London Weekend Television.

"I left school very young and had my first job at 16. I'm not at all sure that I was particularly pushy: I just felt very strongly that I had something to give, and I just wanted an opportunity to prove that."

This was the early 1960s, when it was difficult for women to move away from the secretarial slot. As Agran recalls, it was often a case of "Why not offer her a bit more money or a holiday, and maybe she'll shut up and toddle back to her typewriter."

"Things are improving now for women, but the men that we have dealt with and continue to deal with are, I'm afraid, very old-fashioned. They are constantly talking about the fact that minority groups must be represented, yet they never see that the lack of women at senior levels is also representative of a lack of understanding of the opportunities that should be created.

"One of the good things is that the majority of women I know who have made it, have made it by leaving the system and forming their own companies."

Her advice to today's young women seeking to advance their careers?

"Don't type letters, and don't make the coffee! Make it very clear where it is that you want to end up ... Find a woman within the organisation to befriend, and use them ... And don't sleep with any man. I think a lot of men still see the workplace as a kind of general pulling area."

Veronica Groocock

LYNNE FRANKS

Four O-levels and a Pitman's typing course got the 16-year-old Franks on to the staff of Petticoat magazine as a secretary. After a spell at Freeman's catalogues and failed attempts to break into journalism, Franks was asked by the fashion designer Katharine Hamnett to promote her new business: "I got an old car, an answering machine and worked out of my kitchen for four clients." Building on its success in the early Seventies, Lynne Franks PR became the PR outfit of the Eighties before its owner sold the firm in the early Nineties, moving on to sitcom notoriety and a life of self-discovery.

BETTY BOOTHROYD

Her brief and distinctly unglamorous career as a chorus girl living in Soho over, young Betty put in her hours at the typewriter for the Road Haulage Association. Secretarial and research positions for the Labour Party in the Fifties followed, notably for Barbara Castle, leading to a two-year job as Legislative Assistant to a Republican Congressman in the US. Having contested her first by-election in 1957, Betty has been the member for West Bromwich since 1973 and Speaker of the House of Commons since 1992.

Mike Higgins

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Babysitter Katie and Paul have terse words in the park
tvReview: The strength of the writing keeps viewers glued to their seats even when they are confronted with the hard-hitting scenes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Sport
England’s opening goalscorer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain battles with Scotland’s Charlie Mulgrew
FootballEngland must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Life and Style
Make-up artists prepare contestants for last year’s Miss World, held in Budapest
fashion
Sport
Wigan Athletic’s back-of-the shirt sponsor Premier Range has pulled out due to Malky Mackay’s arrival
Football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

SThree: Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncappd Comm: SThree: Do you have recruitment expe...

Sauce Recruitment: Head of Ad Sales - UK Broadcast

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: An award-winning global mul...

Recruitment Genius: Management Accountant - CIMA / ACCA

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A new and exciting opportunity ...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager

£35 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Manager to join a gl...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines