Maite Barón

Founder of The Corporate Escape  and author of Corporate Escape: The Rise of the New Entrepreneur

As a child, while I didn’t know much, I knew one thing … that I wanted to make a difference – an aspiration that was to shape every stage of my life.

I wanted to make life better for others in whatever way I could, to share and contribute whatever I had to offer, to build something worthwhile and leave behind a legacy with meaning and value to others.  Maybe in some respects I am a born entrepreneur.

However, as a woman in Spain, from a traditional, male-dominated family, success – entrepreneurial or otherwise – was neither expected nor encouraged.

Having seen both my grandmother and mother condemned to follow the predictable litany of marriage and children – ‘woman’s work’ and no freedom – I was determined that this wouldn’t happen to me and that whatever did happen to me would be my choice and mine alone.

Of course, given my upbringing, I wasn’t encouraged to be independent, quite the opposite, but something inside was always pushing me to try new things.

So, at the age of 10, knowing from my own experience how useful it was to be ahead of the game at the start of school after the traditional three-month summer break, I decided to set up a ‘summer school’ to help the younger kids with their holiday homework. By writing letters – handwritten then of course – to their parents, eventually I ‘enrolled’ seven students for a small fee. This was my first ‘pay day’ and I remember vividly the excitement of earning my own money and having enough to buy sweets for myself.

I’d caught the entrepreneurial bug, and pretty soon I was organising cake competitions and taking market stalls where I’d sell plants and flowers.

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