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 was a long distance lorry driver.
When I was four my father was killed in a road traffic accident when 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 very tough.
After attending local schools and colleges I secured my first job as a receptionist as a teenager. 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.
However, having witnessed at first-hand the hardships my mum went through trying to raise two small children, I decided there was more to discover in life, parted with my fiancé and sold the property, a large three bed terraced home.
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 of £5,500 a year. I stayed with the company for 13 years and worked my way up with my final role as an IT training officer.
During the same period studying on the company’s ‘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. Today this would probably be known as a ‘side hustle’.
Then life threw a big problem in my way – I was struck down by the debilitating condition known as M.E. or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
This condition halted my life for around 18 months and I spent period totally bedridden. As I slowly considered returning to work I knew things had to be different. I took up self-employment, and secured a contract at the Welsh Office in Cardiff rolling out their IT platforms, pre Millennium. I soon took on the lead project manager role which carried significant responsibility. This led on to a series of other well-paid consultancy roles as an IT specialist with large law firms and later I became training & development manager with one of them.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, I was climbing the property ladder and had moved into a large four bed detached property. Then I was incapacitated by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for the second time.
Now in my 40s when I realised I had to make some fundamental changes, 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 that buyer had rented my old property out and I realised I should have done that myself. I invested in some training – as I’m a firm believer in learning from those who are more established than you. That way I avoided many easy pitfalls which could have cost me many thousands of pounds in those early days.
I started buying slightly run-down properties on older developments that needed upgrading – nothing difficult involved, simply re-decoration, new carpets, garden maintenance and an external spruce up to enhance kerb appeal.
Once my confidence grew, I turned my attention 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.
That strategy that worked well for me in the first two years where I bought and sold 40 to 50 houses. By making my investments work hard for me, I built up a good pot of cash to move into another area which interested me – 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 overseas too.
In November 2014, I was selected by the BBC for their Women In Business event. As a result I appeared on the main BBC News in a film about the Renting Homes (Wales) Bill launched by the Welsh Government.
Although I manage a multi-million pound property portfolio, self-development is always key and I keep myself up to speed, not only with new legislation, but by updating my own qualifications. For example, I hold a Post Graduate Certificate in Mentoring for Entrepreneurial Practice at the University of South Wales.
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 who wish to operate in the same way.
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