Entrepreneur Deborah Meaden has been running her own businesses since she was 19 years old and her huge success has lead to a starring role on the hit television show, Dragons’ Den.
As one of the “Dragons” Deborah has been watched by millions and helped to develop a greater understanding of the business and entrepreneurial world, as well as support new enterprises.
“Dragons is a great programme and I soon became convinced it was something I wanted to be part of,” she said. “I thoroughly enjoy my role as a Dragon and I’m proud of the difference it has made to people’s views of entrepreneurialism and their greater understanding of business.
“It has provided me with the opportunity to meet some amazing people doing a wide range of different things. It has also challenged me and I enjoy that!”
Prior to joining the programme in 2006, Deborah began her career straight out of business college. She launched a glass and ceramics import company supplying upmarket stores. She then took up a franchise of Italian footwear and clothing company Stefanel and later embarked on a number of other business ventures in the leisure and retail sector, including running a prize bingo concession at Butlins.
Eventually, Deborah entered into her family’s amusement arcade business and, subsequently, moved across to the holiday park side, called Weststar Holidays. Within two years she had been promoted to Managing Director and grew the company from one to five holiday parks, providing holidays for over 150,000 people a year.
After a management buyout in 1999, when she acquired a major shareholding of the company, Deborah finally sold her stakes in two separate deals in 2005 and 2007 worth £33 million and £83 million, respectively.
She said: “The world of business is my home, it is where I want to excel and, although in the early days when I had very little money, giving myself a good life was obviously a big driving influence.
“Now I enjoy business for business sake; the creative side, the energy and the difference getting it right can make to an awful lot of people.”
Deborah also actively supports environmental charities and initiatives as an Ambassador for the WWF, Chair of Childline Child’s Voice Appeal South West, and as a member of the Board of the Roundhouse.
The Award of Honorary Doctor of Staffordshire University is bestowed upon Deborah, in recognition of her business successes and commitment to enterprise and entrepreneurship.