I admit: the idea of the UK learning lessons from a dictatorship feels uncomfortable. But starting a business in Singapore has convinced me that despite massive differences in the size
Many British businesses are still unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the new scheme set to launch in April. But more companies taking on apprentices will have untold benefits
Today is International Women’s Day. The organisers of the Women’s March on 21 January, which aimed to stand up against misogyny, sexism and, well, Trump, have invited women worldwide to strike. ‘A Day without a Woman’ will apparently emphasise the value of women.
While there is a far more equitable gender balance amongst young entrepreneurs, role models and mentors are still the key to finally closing the gap
With a central base in London and new offices in Singapore and Australia, Frances Dickens, co-founder and CEO of the UK’s biggest media barter company Astus, has plenty of experience
You could be mistaken for thinking you’re stuck in some sort of dream – or rather nightmare – world where everything is upside down and the wrong way around. Lies are “alternative facts” whilst truths are falsehoods; male egos are welcome, yet women’s rights are not; white supremacy is just and diversity is theft.
Politics dominated the headlines for much of last year, and it doesn’t look set to change in 2017 with the recent resignation of Sir Ivan Rogers, the UK’s ambassador to the EU. It seems Rogers forgot that he’s supposed to be working in the background advising those in elected positions rather than ‘becoming the story’ with such a high-profile resignation at such a sensitive time
Frances Dickens, the chief executive officer and co-founder at Astus Group, joins Heston Blumenthal for pre-dinner champagne, offers her perspective on the panel of The Apprentice: You’re Fired, and waves her son off to Cambridge.
I explored various other sectors before joining billboard company More O’Ferrall. From there I moved to outdoor specialist Harrison Salison (now Posterscope). I worked hard and proved I was a capable account director to media figureheads including Posterscope president Annie Rickard and Walker Media joint-MD Christine Walker.
Following the shining example set by Rio 2016, UK plc would do well to take a cue from the meritocracy of athletics and bring more women to the fore
I can’t think of anything more stupid than setting up my own media barter company,” says Frances Dickens candidly. “But it has worked.
The feminisation of boardrooms can only help companies navigate the choppy Brexit waters. My favourite image of the last few weeks? As Theresa May gave an impromptu acceptance speech in front of the House of Commons after it was confirmed that she would be PM, she was flanked by female MPs, including ministers Justine Greening and Amber Rudd.
Astus has made it big in barter thanks to an ingenious business model. Co-founder and chief executive Frances Dickens explains the company’s success
Frances Dickens: “I’m delighted that UK voters have chosen opportunity over fear. Today marks the launch of UK plc: we are the fifth largest economy in the world and now we can hone our competitive edge free from the restrictions of Brussels…”
Whilst the applause is still ringing in our ears after the Davies Review found that 25% female boardroom representation has now been achieved within FTSE 100 companies, a new set of figures suggests those celebrations might be premature. A study by European Women on Boards (EWoB) looked at how 600 listed companies on the Stoxx Europe 600 index have fared in terms of gender diversity in the boardroom over the last five years. And the UK ranks pretty badly.
Historically civil rights movements found allies in the most unexpected of people. When trying to achieve greater boardroom equality, the UK may find torchbearers in surprising places. When the government’s discrimination watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), turns its powerful beam on an area of business, it’s time to sit up and listen. Even more so when the EHRC’s conclusions feature words such as “inexcusable” and “unacceptable.
Business leaders react to the chancellor’s 2016 Budget. Was George Osborne’s 2016 Budget good for business? Some of the headlines include a drop in corporation tax of 3% to 17%, and sweeping cuts to business rates for small operations. Frances Dickens chief executive of Astus Group said: “This was a budget of two halves. On the plus side, this was a good budget for small businesses.
We are all trying to work out just what a Brexit would mean for us, whether we are concerned about our pension, how we run a business or the perennial issue of house prices.
But there is one group that may not have a voice come 23 June whose world could really be changed; the school-leaver.
For those of us who want to see greater diversity in business, there can be few higher profile champions to have on our side than GlaxoSmithKline chair Sir Philip Hampton, UBM chair Dame Helen Alexander and Mitie chief executive officer Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith who have been given an official mandate to deliver diversity in British business.
We asked senior businesspeople what they thought of Boris Johnson coming out in support of a Brexit. Yesterday Boris Johnson came out in support of the Leave campaign, despite his own father calling it a “career-ending move”. But what do leading business people think?
It’s time to lead by example, says Astus CEO Frances Dickens
I was struck by a headline this week that read: “City Grandees In Frame To Lead Diversity Push.” The story behind the headline is about the shortlist for candidates to succeed Lord Davies in chairing the influential review into Women on Boards as it enters the next phase. With the term “City grandees” rarely going hand-in-hand with “female/ from an ethnic minority,” I was fairly certain the candidates would be male and white.
For those who are passionate about expanding the diversity of Britain’s boardrooms, 2016 is potentially a year of great opportunity – but there is still work to be done. We ended last year on an apparent high note. Lord Mervyn Davies, the outgoing chair of the government’s equality taskforce reported that, five years after his team was set up, his target of women accounting for 25% of FTSE 100 directors by 2015 was achieved.
Dear George, A combination of events in Paris and signs of a slowdown in GDP growth signals a sombre setting for next week’s Autumn Statement. So what can we SMEs – the powerhouse of the UK economy – realistically ask you to deliver? It won’t surprise you to hear that bad news notwithstanding, we won’t be lowering our expectations.
Investors can exert a massive influence on the companies in their portfolio, making them well placed to create a stand against a shortage of female faces in the boardroom. There are few headlines guaranteed to make my blood boil as much as the following: “Very few investors think about gender diversity” or “Wizz Air reshuffle fails to improve boardroom gender balance”.
Want to mix business with pleasure? Then avoid turning your friend into your personal spy and don’t be tempted to moan about other members of staff
Entrepreneurs launching a business are often caught in a catch-22. They want and need to shout about their products or services, but as a startup, marketing is usually way down the list of spending priorities. When money is tight, thinking smart is key. One example of smart business practice is media barter.
Procurement is often seen as the enemy of creativity and big ideas by marketers; but the relationship doesn’t have to be adversarial and together the two can achieve great efficiencies.
Now is the time for the government to deliver, says the Astus chief executive
The UK’s 5.2 million small businesses currently account for 48% of UK private sector employment and 33% of private sector turnover. Many of us openly supported Conservatives’ bid for power and now is the time for the government to deliver
Going into business with a friend is a bit like deciding to get married. Before saying ‘I do’, ask whether you can tolerate their foibles? Launching a media barter business with my co-founder and friend Paul Jackson could be a case study in testing a friendship to extremes. We should be sworn enemies by now. Instead, we head a business with 40 staff, offices in the UK and Asia Pacific and an annual turnover of £200m.
The government plans to create millions of new apprenticeships by 2020 – but is the existing scheme too heavily skewed towards older workers who are already employed?
Former life-long Labour supporter, Frances Dickens, CEO of Astus Group, outlines what the party needs to do next to win back business leaders and the wider electorate.
Astus CEO Frances Dickens has high hopes for Business Secretary Sajid Javid. As champagne corks pop throughout the business community, Cameron has unveiled his post-election cabinet which combines established faces with an injection of fresh talent. For a leader often accused of surrounding himself with old school chums, Cameron seems to have been at pains to create a cabinet that is both inclusive and diverse.
The next government should not stifle the ambition of entrepreneurs, says Frances Dickens, CEO of Astus Group, in the fifth of our pre-election blogs. Entrepreneurs and SMEs have been at the centre of a tug-of-love between the main political parties in this campaign and with good reason: the UK’s 5.2 million small businesses accounted for 48% of UK private sector employment and 33% of private sector turnover.
Launching an SME into a new territory is no mean undertaking. There are language and custom barriers to overcome and that is after you decide on which country to actually choose to expand into. Frances Dickens, CEO and co-founder of media barter agency Astus Group, which has offices in London, Australia and Singapore as well as a presence in Dublin gives us her six top tips for small companies looking to expand overseas
I admit: the idea of the UK learning lessons from a dictatorship feels uncomfortable. But starting a business in Singapore has convinced me that despite massive differences in the size of our two countries and our political regimes, there is a lot Singapore has to teach when it comes to building a strong economy and encouraging entrepreneurship. In the week that Singapore mourns the passing of patriarch Lee Kuan Yew, here are two that leap to mind.
Google’s annual Year in Search data revealed Jennifer Lawrence to be the most googled celebrity of 2014. Putting aside the now notorious photo leak, the combination of Lawrence’s performance in American Hustle, for which she earned her second Golden Globe in January, and her latest instalment of The Hunger Games, this year’s highest-grossing new opener, cemented her status as one of the world’s most sought-after actresses. All at the age of just 24.
Frances Dickens left school at 16 with few formal qualifications. She is now CEO of the UK’s largest media barter specialist, Astus Group, and was a finalist in the recent NatWest everywoman awards. She says her career progression is not so much due to forward planning, but more down to hard graft and seizing opportunities that have come her way.
“It’s nice having a bear about the house,” Michael Bond wrote in his 1958 children’s book classic, A Bear Called Paddington. Almost 60 years later, Bond’s sentiment lives on, with even the digital-savvy generation postingPinterest boards in dedication to the humble bear.
Astus Group is taking part in The Paddington Trail, a new initiative put together by the NSPCC, VisitLondon.com and Studio Canal to mark the release of Paddington the movie while aiming to raise £500,000 for the NSPCC and its ChildLine service.
A poll has shown a generally negative impression of the business world, and reality TV could be part of the problem. A new series of The Apprentice launched last week, marking a decade since it first brought the competitive high jinks of the business world to our television screens.
The news that Véronique Laury will replace Sir Ian Cheshire as chief executive of FTSE 100 company Kingfisher in January next year shone light on some depressing statistics for women in business. While Laury’s appointment signifies a 25% increase in the number of female FTSE 100 CEOs, the actual number only stands at five. That means 95% of the UK’s leading 100 corporations are run by men.
It’s more essential than ever for businesses to find exciting ways to communicate with audiences and share brand messaging. For hotels and companies in the hospitality and leisure sectors, which provide quality experiences for customers, the story they portray must be especially enticing and imaginative.
I’m often surprised by the dazzling array of job titles bandied around the corporate arena. Senior executives, middle management and junior roles all feature a plethora of job title derivations, so much so that you’d almost need a dictionary to decode them.
Astus CEO Frances Dickens reveals four tips that could redefine your board and benefit your business. Ideas come from everywhere. It’s important to make sure that board meetings are upbeat events and that they reflect the level of communication and transparency that you want to encourage throughout your business.
With a central base in London and new offices in Singapore and Australia, Frances Dickens, co-founder and CEO of the UK’s biggest media barter company Astus, has plenty of experience in doing business abroad and offers her key advice.
SMEs are constantly searching for the next technological advancement but digital isn’t the sole driver of business success. Here are five non-digital tips for growing your business
The success of women in business is a hot topic in the media right now with quotas to ensure adequate representation of women on FTSE 250 boards gaining particular traction. What are Frances Dickens, CEO of Astus Group’s top tips for enabling women to get ahead in business?
It’s a PR truism that good reputation is hard to win and easy to lose; one which the UK utilities and banking sectors will be painfully aware of. But can sectors with a bad reputation reinvent themselves?
Frances Dickens, CEO of Astus the UK’s largest media barter company comments on the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and its impact on entrepreneurs, business and people. Frances is a great example of an entrepreneur and certainly has strong opinions on the recent budget.
It has suffered from a poor image in the past, but in the last ten years media barter has cleaned up its act says Frances Dickens, chief executive and co-founder of Astus Group and as the pressure mounts to save money, expect it to become more commonplace.
Frances Dickens, chief executive and co-founder of Astus Group explains what media barter is and how it is working hard to shake off its shady past
Astus has experienced a fantastic level of growth in the last three years, doubling our turnover in that period.
The Prime Minister and his wife, rugby legends and Media Week veterans star in photos from Astus’ rugby fundraiser, Mumsnet’s tenth birthday and Media Week’s 25th birthday
Media owners, agencies and clients made greater use of bartering over the past year to obtain media space, with new figures indicating a doubling in its use by retail and fast moving consumer goods clients.