Take 5: Imbiba talks to Debra Ward, Camm & Hooper

Debra Ward, MD Camm_Hooper.jpg

Debra Ward is Managing Director of Camm & Hooper.

Debra joined Camm & Hooper this year. Debra was former Strategy & Growth Director EMEA for US corporation JLL in London, and prior to this MD EMEA for Conduce Software, recipients of the Queen's award for innovation in technology. 

In 2007 Debra and her senior team founded Mitie Client Services, which became the industry leader for front of house services, with turnover of £22 million. The company was named the 45th best small company to work for in The Sunday Times Top 100, won BIFM's Service Provider of the Year and 2012 FMA's National Training Award. 

Debra is a true entrepreneur having led and sold several businesses across three continents, starting out at just 16. Debra was named the 2014 Women of Achievement winner by Women in the City and one of the top 10 people in Facilities Management by RICs. She is passionate about people & culture as a company differentiator.

The Camm & Hooper business operates 5 sites across London with 160 team members and a turnover of £11m. The business was founded four years ago by Claire Lawson and is award-winning across every site.

Debra, please tell us about your role?

I have the enviable position of leading Camm-Hooper, an award-winning events company employing extraordinary people to curate iconic events in 5 London venues… and growing.

1. What single piece of advice would you give to someone starting a company today?

Research and understand your market, your customer base, specifically what they are looking for, spend time on selecting the right people to come on the journey with you… then be brave!


“Ultimately people are at the heart of any success, so how you treat them is key to your success and that of any business you lead.”

 2. Since taking on your role, what small step has had the biggest impact?

Listening and observing; really understanding what our clients are looking for and celebrating where we are excelling and where we could improve. Listening to the frustrations of our team members and removing barriers that will enable them to deliver to the best capacity.  Acknowledging and celebrating success along the way not just at the destination.


3. Who has been the biggest influence on you in your working life and why?

My Mom, who taught me to aim higher than my environment.  That education was never wasted and that having a voice regardless of my gender, hometown and circumstances was a gift not to be wasted.

My father had an entrepreneurial mind, who dared greatly and brought his team on the journey with him.  He achieved success in the face of being told he couldn’t.  He worked hard to make his dreams a reality.  He understood that ultimately people are at the heart of any success, so how you treat them is the key to your success and that of any business you lead.  


4. What book is on your bedside table?

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Becoming is the autobiographical memoir of former United States First Lady Michelle Obama published in 2018. Described by the author as a deeply personal experience, the book talks about her roots and how she found her voice, as well as her time in the White House, her public health campaign, and her role as a mother. I have found it to be a truly insightful read for all women growing and developing their businesses.


“Always create space for others to achieve their full potential.”

5.     If it’s ok to make mistakes, which one did you learn most from?

I once put my personal aspirations before the company.  The CEO called me out…It was painful, publicly humiliating and esteem shattering but once I picked myself up and did an autopsy on the situation I vowed that in whatever I did I would always put the team and our clients first… every time.  This has led to exponential success as since then my focus is always on creating space for others to achieve their full potential and in doing so our collective results are always greater.

If you want to get in touch visit Camm & Hooper or email Debra Ward at debra@camm-hooper.co.uk


Fraser Bradshaw