To give you some background, my career and life has been varied and eventful. I was born in Aberdare in the south Wales valleys. My mum was in fashion retail and my father a long distance lorry driver.
When I was four my father was killed in a road traffic accident and my mum was just 22. Unable to afford to stay in our home we went to live with my grand-parents who helped support us. My grand-father was a coal miner, and back then, although having a very happy childhood, things were financially tough.
After attending local schools and colleges I secured my first job as a receptionist. At the age of 18, I decided to settle down, get married and bought my first house. The deposit was paid mainly by the monies left to me by my late father. Having witnessed at first-hand the hardships my mum went through trying to raise two small children, I guess unnerved me, and I felt there was more to discover in life. So parting from my fiancé I sold the property, a large three bed terrace.
Not satisfied with my job I sent my CV to some of biggest companies in Wales and was offered a post as junior revenue assistant at Welsh Water on a salary at the time of £5,500 a year. I stayed with the company 13 years and worked my way up the career ladder within HR and Training, my final role being an I.T. training officer. During the same period studying on their Continuous Learning Programme, I qualified as an aromatherapist and a reflexologist, and opened my very first business – an aromatherapy clinic – which I ran alongside my career with Welsh Water.
As is often the case when things are going well, an obstacle presents itself. I was struck down by the debilitating condition known as M.E. or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
Having been debilitated for 18 months, if I was to return to any form of work it would have to have been on my terms. So I took up self-employment, and secured a contract at the Welsh Office in Cardiff rolling out their I.T. platforms, pre Millennium. Shortly into the contact I took on the lead project manager role which carried significant responsibility. This led on to a series of other well-paid self-employed consultancy roles as an I.T. specialist with large law firms in Wales, and later to training & development manager with one of them.
Meanwhile I was climbing the property ladder and had moved into a large four bed detached property when I was incapacitated by M.E. for a second time.
I was in my 40s when I realised I had to make some fundamental changes to my life, and it was while I was at home worrying how I was going to pay that new mortgage and all the bills associated with a nice life style, that property investment began to play a larger role in my life. I had been buying and selling houses as homes for myself since I was 18. My last property I had part-exchanged for a house on a new development. My light bulb moment came when I discovered my buyer had rented my old property out! Realising I should have done that myself, I looked up courses on property investing in London and focussed my attention on what I learned on those courses.
I started buying slightly run down properties on older developments that needed upgrading – nothing difficult, re-decoration, new carpets, garden maintenance and the outsides spruced up.
My attention then turned to buying new builds, off-plan, purchasing four or five at one time, and at completion selling off some of the larger four beds and keeping the two and three beds to rent out. A strategy that worked well for me in the first two years where I bought and sold 40 to 50 houses. By making money work hard for me, I built up a good pot of cash to move into another area – renovations.
By 2003 I was buying properties for cash to renovate, gaining experience on the way about planning permission, building regulations and project management.
I went on to invest in properties in Canada and Cyprus and in the process learned a great deal about investing abroad.
In November 2014, I was selected by the BBC for their Women In Business day. As a result I appeared on the main BBC News in a documentary piece about Renting Homes (Wales) Bill launched earlier this year by the Welsh Government.
Although owning a multimillion pound property portfolio, self-development for me is always key and I ensure I keep myself up to speed, not only with new legislation, but by updating my own qualifications. Recently I completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Mentoring for Entrepreneurial Practice at the University of South Wales. It was something I wanted to achieve for myself, and has allowed me to help other women achieve their goals and potential.
I was delighted in March this year to be appointed Chairman of the South Wales branch of Women In Property, where I look forward to continuing to support the members and to encourage and help grow our young talent for the future. I regularly undertake public speaking engagements to talk about property investment and my journey in business. Some of these events are mentioned on my media page..
Throughout my life, I feel I have consistently demonstrated resilience, determination, integrity, leadership, creativity and generosity, and it is all of these skills and values I love sharing with others.