Guest reviewers choice

Heels of steel

Book review by Anna Brown MBA, MCMI, MIC - Heels of Steel by Vanessa Vallely

Panoma Press ISBN: 978-1909623118

Heels of Steel by Vanessa Vallely inspired me. This book is about Vanessa, a woman who is determined to change her life from humble beginnings having come from the “University of Nowhere”, to becoming a high profile influential individual in the UK corporate world. To be precise her transition is from “zero to hero”. 

The author started her journey wearing a pair of unbranded trainers with holes because a decent pair was beyond reach. Having taken ‘Determination’ as her core subject at the “University of Nowhere”, Vanessa was later able to afford a decent pair of “heels” as part of her corporate wear.   Her only challenge was that these heels had to be Heels of Steel otherwise she would find herself stumbling and often falling down in the world of her dreams – the corporate world.

As can happen in a journey, one can experience a flat tyre, engine problems or delays caused by road blocks.  Obviously one cannot know or foresee everything - the unknown will happen and surprises are always there.  While one may be able to see where the road veers, one won’t necessarily be able to foresee some of the roadblocks and detours.  The author had to consider all the possible alternatives so as to have a sense of direction. Vanessa considered alternative routes and sometimes changed lanes.  In order to know the lay of the road ahead in case the surface or the direction changed, Vanessa had to wear Heels of Steel. Sometimes the journey was like going through a maze – she would get lost or find herself going backwards instead of forward. As a determined woman, Vanessa blended the toughness of the military mind with the delicate art of protocol in order to survive in the corporate world dominated by men hence the need to wear Heels of Steel.

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VIDEO - Vanessa Vallely is interviewed about networking for women in male-dominated industries 

Anna Brown

Anna Brown is a seasoned banker with over 25 years banking experience. She worked for Barclays Bank for 22 years from 1985 where she rose to the position of Premier Manager for High Net Worth clients. She currently works for NatWest Bank. She has a strong interest in the commitment to develop and deliver leading edge solutions to financial service industry clients in the area of customer care, and has won customer care awards with both Barclays Bank and NatWest Bank. She has the capability to align sales strategies which meet overall business objectives.

Anna's areas of specialisation lie in generating new business opportunities for the affluent customer segment through building client networks, prospecting and recruiting affluent customers. She has hands on experience in operational change management at Barclays Bank. Her ability to see change as a strategic decision and necessary at some point in business has helped other team members within Barclays to view change in a different light. She took the 'Lean Champion' role at NatWest Bank where she again showed her ability and made positive influence on team members regarding strategic operational change in business.

Anna holds an MBA with Nottingham Trent University; Diploma in Management Consultancy through the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and a Diploma in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) with the Institute of Financial Service (ifs). She was part of the Olympic Legacy Group which did consulting work by studying the successes of previous Olympic Games and whether London would achieve the expected outcome and secure Olympic Legacy after the London 2012 Olympic Games.


Interests:  Family, Health and Fitness, Personal Development, Volunteering / Fundraising for various charities including Oxfam, the Green Campaign and Children in Need.