3/5/2024 | Childcare & Education

International Women's Day 2024 Q&A with...Courteney Donaldson

In the lead-up to International Women’s Day 2024, we’ve spoken to members of our senior leadership team about their career motivation, inspiration and advice for the next generation. Today we're hearing from Courteney Donaldson, Managing Director - Childcare & Education.

IWD Courteney Donaldson

What’s your biggest career achievement?

Reflecting on this against the backdrop of International Women's Day, it has to be my appointment to Christie & Co’s Senior Board Team. This was a pivotal moment in my career and indeed in the history of our business, as I was the first female Chartered Surveyor invited to join the senior board, which for the preceding 80 years had solely been a male environment. 

This year I celebrate my 25th anniversary at Christie & Co. My career was founded here as a graduate trainee, and there have been many, many milestones and career achievements since having joined Christie & Co in 1999. Particular highlights include qualifying as a Chartered Valuation surveyor in December 2004; being appointed by Lyceum Capital to provide vendor valuations associated with the sale of Asquith Nurseries to Dawney Day and Swordfish Investments for £95 million in June 2007, which marked the largest transaction that I had worked on in my career to that stage; being invited to join the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) as a Co-Opted Trustee in 2011; the sale of Rosevale Holdings in 2014 which was a pivotal transaction founding the growth of our Childcare & Education Agency business, and the growth and success of our team as we have become the UK’s ‘go-to’, multi-award winning, market leaders. 

Highlights also include being the inaugural recipient of the Jeremy Hill Award for Outstanding Contribution 2014, and invitations from both HRH Queen Elizabeth II, and HRH King Charles III to attend royal garden parties at Buckingham Palace, as a gesture of thanks for my services to education.

What was your first job?

I joined Christie & Co as a graduate trainee in November 1999 so I’m still in my first ‘proper’ job!  But, before that there were all sorts of jobs throughout my teenage years; babysitting, car washing, dog walking, Saturday shop roles in a green grocers, dry cleaners and on an Altrincham market stall selling knickers and tights, glass collecting and cocktail bar work, child-minding and a creche assistant.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to younger women in business?

Pursue a career in an area of business that you are passionate about, where you genuinely feel you can make a difference. If you love what you do, you will always go the extra mile, inside and outside of ‘working hours’, those additional miles will stand you in good stead as your career develops and evolves. A sporting analogy shared during a board meeting many years ago, resonates strongly with me, “The harder I practise, the luckier I get” (Gary Player, South African Golfer). Achieving success has little to do with luck, success is created by self. Invest in yourself, work incredibly hard and you’ll get lucky! Always strive to exceed the expectations you have for yourself, and the expectations others may have of you. Constantly appraise, and as you achieve each goal, raise the bar and keep reaching beyond.

What drives / motivates you in your career?

What initially motivated me was being pregnant at 17, a single parent, and an overriding drive to find a career path that would enable me to be able to put a roof over our heads and pay the bills. Being financially independent was always the initial goal. That drive and focus motivated me, which in turn led to career development and growth. Today, my son is all grown up, married and he has a beautiful son of his own. What motivates me now is probably a fear of failure but in a positive way. I have high expectations and I’ve personally invested so much of myself to get our business to this point, it’s how I maintain that energy and drive, while further growing and developing our team, to meet increasing demand from clients, our services, along with succession planning in the years to come.

 Is there a female leader that you particularly admire? Why?

Marie Colvin. Commenting on Marie’s legacy her mother Rosemarie Colvin said, “Be passionate and be involved in what you believe in, and do it as thoroughly and honestly and fearlessly as you can”. Heartfelt sentiments I share, no matter what profession or journey your career path takes you on.

For more of our International Women's Day 2024 Q&As, click here.