The Fold Woman: Clare Connell

The Fold Woman: Clare Connell
January 27, 2016 The Fold
Clare Connell fold woman

Last September we launched a search to find our next Fold Woman. We asked women across the UK to nominate their inspiring friends – Clare Connell nominated her friend Jane Marriott, who was selected as the winner. We caught up with Clare to talk about the challenges of starting your own business and her go-to outfits for the 9-to-5.

Tell us about your career background and how you came to found Connell Consulting:

I have been a strategy consultant since I graduated from Durham University at 21. After working for the strategy practice of Accenture, OC&C Strategy Consultants and a boutique firm specialising in the UK healthcare sector, I set up Connell Consulting in 2012. I have built and trained my own team dedicated to commercial due diligence and strategy consulting in the UK health, social care and special education sectors and we advise investors and operators in these sectors. We primarily provide private equity firms and hedge funds with commercial due diligence on acquisitions and strategic reviews of portfolios of care homes, special schools, hospitals and home care agencies.  

You founded Connell Consulting following a successful career in the field – what advice would you offer to others taking the leap and setting up their own business?

Work hard and learn from every experience along the way. When faced with challenges, remember that few things worth doing in life are easy, so work harder and smarter. Analysis of data is important, but it also important to follow your gut instinct – use that as the basis of further investigation. Invest in your team and surround yourself with smart people. As my father had his own businesses when I was growing up, I was comfortable with the challenges and uncertainty that setting up your own business involves.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

If something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. Also, there is no point in worrying about things you can’t change, so just focus on those you can.   

Clare Connell Fold Woman

Clare wears The Arlington Dress in Teal and Jane wears The Belgravia Dress in burgundy herringbone jersey

Tell us about your friendship with Jane – how did you meet and how have you supported one another throughout your life journeys?

I met Jane when I was 18 in my first year at Durham University. We both studied History at University College, better known as Castle. She was in the year above and we held many of the same positions in the University. We have been friends ever since.

Jane has always been a great friend to me. When Jane had to leave Iran in a hurry when the British Embassy was invaded, she had to leave all her belongings behind and arrived back in London with the clothes she stood up in and her handbag. She quickly came to my house for clothes – luckily we are around the same size and I had plenty to spare.

I worry about Jane when she is away working in dangerous places working for HM Government. I was so keen to see Jane before she left for Baghdad the following day, that I met her for dinner with a broken wrist. I had tripped off a Routemaster bus earlier that day and it hurt, but I was hoping it would wear off. Unfortunately by the time dinner was over it had swollen to twice the size and I had to go to the Chelsea and Westminster hospital for an X-ray and a cast. We have also been on a few interesting trips together. I particularly enjoyed travelling around Jordan and the West Coast of the USA.

How do you like to unwind outside of the office? 

I love to travel, particularly to places slightly off the beaten track and tick off UNESCO heritage sites I haven’t yet seen. This summer I travelled around Cuba which was quite an experience and then stayed with friends in St Tropez. I enjoy walking my 2 Hungarian Vizslas in the countryside, cooking for friends, shooting, sailing, watching racing and riding horses very fast across open parkland.

Clare Connell Fold Woman

Clare wears The Arlington Dress in Teal and Jane wears The Belgravia Dress in burgundy herringbone jersey

Your industry is a male dominated field; do you think this has created advantages or disadvantages?

I have never considered that being a woman has placed me at a disadvantage. I hope our clients value results and quality work above all else.  

Tell us about your work wear style – what are your go-to outfits for the 9-5?

I wear suits or dresses in black, navy blue or deep colours like dark green. I have always loved The Fold clothes as they don’t crease easily and combine practicality with femininity. They also seem to fit my shape rather well. Being only 5’5”, I love good heels, particularly LK Bennett. If running in 4 inch heels were an Olympic sport, I would be a serious contender.

And finally which outfit did you take from home the shoot and why did you choose it?

I chose the navy blue Marlow velvet tuxedo suit as it a great outfit for parties. In fact I wore it the evening of the shoot to a work drinks party. I also bought the teal Arlington dress I wore on the shoot as it is smart, feminine and comfortable to wear.

Photos by Kylie Martin

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