Inspirational Woman: Linda Plant | BBC The Apprentice Interviewer & Founder, The Linda Plant Academy

Linda Plant
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Linda has built her career from humble beginnings to become one of Britain’s most successful business leaders.

She is now helping others to forge their own career and business path too, with her Linda Plant Business Academy and her personally written Business Blueprint Course.

After leaving school aged 15, Linda progressed quickly from selling fashion on a Leeds market stall, to launching her international knitwear brand, Honeysuckle. After taking the company back she later became one of the first women to head a fashion company flotation becoming a PLC.

As a pioneer female business leader she continued her business successes in a series of challenging executive roles, whilst consecutively growing and selling her electronics company after three short years, for substantial profit.

Linda is known as ‘The Queen of Mean’ for her no-nonsense interviews of BBC The Apprentice’s final five candidates, providing advice to Lord Sugar for over 5 seasons.

Her passion for business and entrepreneurship has also been recognised with a number of business awards and as judge of the top female entrepreneur for HSBC’s Panel of Forward Ladies.

Today Linda runs highly successful property development and interior design businesses and her Linda Plant Business Academy.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

Most people know me as ‘The Queen of Mean’ for my no-nonsense interviews of BBC The Apprentice’s final five candidates, providing advice to Sir Alan Sugar over 5 seasons, but my success in business started from humble beginnings.

After leaving school at 15 I started selling clothes on my mum’s market stall in Dewsbury market. I quickly realised that I had a natural flair for fashion and I rapidly helped her business become a real success. I eventually took my own fashion business, Honeysuckle, to the main London stock market – all without a single qualification and at a time when women were not at the forefront of the industry as they are today.

I later took on a series of challenging executive roles, whilst consecutively growing and selling my electronics company after three short years.

My passion for business and entrepreneurship has also been recognised with a number of business awards and as a top female entrepreneur judge for HSBC’s Panel of Forward Ladies.

I’m proud to be one of Britain’s most successful business leaders, running highly successful property development and interior design businesses.  And I now want to give something back.  So I’m currently focussing on helping others to forge their own career and business paths too, with my newly launched Linda Plant Business Academy and my personally written Blueprint Business Course (lindaplant.com).

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No I never planned but as my business evolved, I strategised.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Yes absolutely, but problems need solutions – you need the ability to pivot and always be flexible.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Writing a business course, something which is totally different to anything I have ever done.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

Perseverance but knowing when to walk away.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I would love to mentor. I have given advice and I’m never afraid to ask for advice but I don’t have a mentor myself.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

I’ve never suffered gender inequality. When employing staff, I only ever base my opinion on whether or not they are right for the position – with no other considerations.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

To invest in Matalan. John Hargreaves, owner of Matalan was a customer of mine when he had a company called Jaymax, named after his son and daughter. He wanted to expand his company and he needed £250,000 for a share in his new venture, Matalan. That was a substantial sum in those days and I decided that I had to invest in my own business instead.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My next challenge is to try and reach as many people as possible with my new Linda Plant Academy, so that in Britain we start to see a trend of highly successful female entrepreneurs emerge despite all the constraints of the current pandemic.


WeAreTheCity has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Cherie Blair, Paula Radcliffe MBE, Caprice Bourret, Anna Williamson and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here

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