Work It Out

'Don't be stopped by your own insecurities,' UK designer Tara Bernerd says

Gender landscape in boardrooms is changing, entrepreneur says

In the design space, Tara Bernerd is renowned for her work, having founded a leading international design and interior architecture practice in London back in the early 2000s.

Yet even though her company has worked on several major projects and made a name for itself, Bernerd believes that no matter how long you've been in business, entrepreneurs need to keep working hard, in order to survive in this competitive world.

Reflecting on how she set up her own business back in 2002 and what she's learned, the British designer outlined to CNBC some key advice she'd offer to people looking to, or who have, set up their own business.

"Don't be stopped by your own insecurities. The limits you set yourself, you are setting. So, I think to be confident, you must always work hard at your skills, and be, as much as you can, on top of your game," the founder of Tara Bernerd & Partners, told CNBC's Tania Bryer in an interview that aired Wednesday.

Speaking ahead of International Women's Day, Bernerd said that she thinks that setting up your own company today would be "intimidating" in many ways, whatever your gender is.

"We are really at the most competitive times of our lives, I mean even if you've been in business for 17 years, (you need) to keep being in business."

"So, I don't think one should sit back and expect anything to come easy. It doesn't."

When to go from employee to entrepreneur

The designer also said that entrepreneurs should make sure they do the best that they can do, in addition to embracing key communication skills.

"I think communication is also key – I think making sure you're out there, you are meeting people. And once you're there, however good you are, you need to be able to communicate to people and not having sort of 'set boundaries and ideals' – it can often block us at a time where we must keep a very clear mind."

Having a seat at the table

The subject of diverse leadership teams continues to be placed at the forefront of company agendas, especially if company boards are identified as not being inclusive or balanced in terms of diversity and gender.

In fact, research in the past has highlighted the benefits of having gender diverse boards, such as improved levels of governance and business performance. In 2015, MSCI stated in a study that companies with robust levels of female leadership, had generated a Return on Equity of 10.1% per year compared to 7.4% for those that didn't.

Bernerd told CNBC she never felt that she was personally prevented in business because of her gender, stating that she's "always had a seat at the table" and voice at the table.

She added that when she was setting up her business, she found that she was often very occupied with the company tasks at hand, therefore "at the time, I don't recognize me being 'put out' that I was a woman."

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The designer added that when it comes to having a seat at the table, she's driven by the notion that it's more to do with what you can offer as a businessperson.

"I always was driven by the fact that: to have a place at the table was not based on male or female. It was about skill, it was about talent and it was about professionalism — and if I didn't hit those three, then I had no place at the table — and we did, and some."

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