Victoria Cowley shares her Meaning of Life Article icon


 Tori Cowley, group director of corporate affairs and investor relations at Mitie, conducts her personal stock take

What was your childhood ambition?
To be an artist or Prime Minister.

How did you get into corporate communications?
By accident. I started as an accountant - great training but not very me. Then I became an investment banker - fascinating, challenging, but not a very healthy life; and then I moved into financial communications - landing somewhere where business, reputation, people and instinct collide. I knew it was for me from the word go.

What do you love about it?
Everything really. I love the interplay of strategy, brand, personalities and politics. I love that you are constantly on your toes. I love that your job is to think through the outcomes and the impact these will have on a business before anyone else has got there. I love running a team, and I love that Corporate Affairs, if done well, can make a fundamental difference to how successful an organisation is. It is often underestimated as a strategic tool. It shouldn't be.

What three qualities do you look for in recruits to your team?
Tenacity, humour, intellect 

Who has been your best advisor or mentor and why? 
I had an economics teacher at school who made me believe anything is possible if you work at it and are determined to succeed. I wrote to him 20 years after I left school to tell him he had had a major impact on me. My husband is also wonderful at re-basing me - which needs doing occasionally!

Which living person do you most admire?
David Attenborough 

Do you possess any hidden talents?
I would be great at the Masterchef invention test and totally rubbish at the fancy stuff. 

If you could be a superhero just for one day, which one would you be?
Wonder Woman.

Outside work, what are you most passionate about?
My kids. My garden. Good food. Good service. Life, in general.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
Religious and racial hatred. 

What would your perfect gadget or app do?
It would eliminate the need to endure travel and transit, unless that was the pleasure itself. I hate airports, sweaty tubes, road works, cancelled trains, security who confiscate your water/lip gloss/Sudocream. The travel almost always seems so frustrating and such a waste of energy and time

If you could go back in time to any period of history, what would it be?
The 80s. I was there. I miss the music.

Who would be on your guest list for a fantasy dinner party?
Can I have a great big hog roast? And invite loads of people - Sid James, Margaret Thatcher, George Michael, Kenny Everett, Alan Rickman, Trevor McDonald, Etta James, Monty Don, my kids, friends, neighbours. It would be a riot.

And the meal?
See above. On one of those magical balmy warm English summer evenings, lit by tree lanterns, masses of fairy lights and with the smell of roses in the air.