Dori Dana-Haeri is often identified with the “womanomics” movement, successful, independent and influential women who do their own thing, brilliantly. She is full of compassion and zest for life, a wonderful role model and mentor for young women. She believes self-confidence comes from within and that women have a tendency to overblame others for their lack of self-esteem and oomph. Her advice to women of all ages is to reflect, find what they are good at and get on with it.
Through her friend Laura Lee, an oncology nurse, Dori got to know of the Scottish writer, artist and garden designer Maggie Keswick Jencks, who co-founded the cancer centres Maggie’s where unconditional support and refuge is offered to people with cancer, their family and friends. Laura Lee is now Maggie’s Chief Executive; Dori is one of their tireless fundraisers and promotes Maggie’s mantra “Don’t lose the joy of living in the fear of dying”.
Dori was a rebel child who adored her father, an academic at the University of Shiraz, her mother was a socialite from a business family. Her parents, thinking they were doing the right thing, sent her to a boarding school in Surrey, she spoke no English and remembers the cold, the food and the rules being “the worst”, the skipping outside before breakfast was memorably unpleasant. At first it was hard to make friendships as the British were somewhat reserved, but at Queens College in Harley Street Dori had fun and made lasting friendships, then followed a Business Administration degree at Bath University. Seeing herself as a people personshe bravely opposed her father who wanted her to study sciences, instead she became a strategy consultant with Professor Dean Berry (INSEAD and London Business School). After the death of her father at 65years Dori was devasted, he had been a very important person in her life, he talked and taught her the concept of love is not protection but enhancement, he taught her she needed to excel inwhatever she chose to do.
This epiphany spurred a year out, via Australia and Idaho-USA doing unlikely jobs for a young lady such as working on farms, during this year she learned more than all the years of formal education. On her return Dori considered careers in merchant banking, communications and journalism. She landed a wonderful 18hour a day job at BBDO (now Omnicom) as Business Development Director, but still she yearned for her own business; in the late 80’s she swapped her posh office with a view of Regent’s Park for a cubby hole in Tottenham Court Road. Here she combined her experiences and skills in marketing and advertising into a marketing consultancy; providing a gap analysis between a company’s internal perceptions of itself and the perceptions of its external stakeholders, this proved to be a superb methodology which created a pressure for change. Prestigious international clients congregated for her expertise and she moved from the cubby hole to a studio in St John’s Wood, she claims her success is due to her efficiency, and this reporter would add her analytical and intuitive skills.
One day one of her clients requested help with the development of a small tech company, Dori was engrossed, she saw the opportunity to be really effective, to impact and create change thus she founded a small tech fund and raised £120million. Dori says she is not a techie, she doesn’t need to understand the product but to query if the productis “mission critical” and does it fulfil a need for the customerbase.Nowadays she identifies interesting small, medium and large companies worthy of investment and matches them with investors, presently many of these are in the environmental or technology sector, but Dori adds a caveat for innovators “don’t invent technology for the sake of technology”; her heart gravitates to where she can make a real difference.