10QUESTIONS with Gemma Cornwall

Jacqueline Ballard - Content Marketing Manager at Freshfield

Written by Jacqueline Ballard,
Content Marketing Manager at Freshfield

Our 10QUESTIONS feature asks members of the Freshfield community ten questions about their working life. Featuring client partners, colleagues and FF friends, our guests share some personal stories, views and fresh words of wisdom.

Our latest guest author is Freshfield client, Gemma Cornwall, chartered surveyor and founder of Viridium, a planet-conscious building surveying consultancy. Viridium helps clients develop strategies to reduce carbon emissions within their portfolio and safeguard the future value of their assets.

1. How do you like to start your working day?

In the summer I spend 10 minutes in my ice bath. In the winter I don’t go anywhere near it and make myself a bucket of coffee instead (to drink, not to sit in). I usually plan out my day the night before, so I check emails and crack on.

2. How has the pandemic changed your working life?

In my industry, I think it has made us realise how quickly things can shut down with very little notice and the market is still very volatile.

Personally, I appreciate how it has sped up the normalisation of flexible working patterns, which really helps fit in everything I want to achieve in my work and home life.

3. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“Go grab life”. None of us are here for long and nobody knows what is around the corner. Days are far too precious to waste doing something that doesn’t bring joy to your life or fire to your soul.

Following that advice can sometimes leave me wondering if the chances I’m taking are crazy, but who wants to be on their deathbed regretting chances they didn’t take?

4. Where and how do you come up with your best ideas?

Usually when I’m out running and I have no way of writing them down! Otherwise, I love being surrounded by people who challenge me to think more.

Whenever I go to conferences or industry events and meet intelligent, passionate people I come away feeling energised and full of ideas.

5. What does leadership mean to you?

To quote Emmeline Pankhurst, it’s deeds not words. The best leaders are those who don’t need to say why they’re good, they show it.

Caring about your team because you have a common goal rather than purely because of the benefit they can bring to you is a good start.

6. Which current or historical business figure do you most admire and why?

I think Steven Bartlett has a lot going for him. He’s achieved so much at such a young age and he doesn’t come across as particularly big-headed, which a lot of other people who call themselves entrepreneurs do.

I like that he seems very open to learning and bettering himself in business and life in general.

7. What is your most trusted source of news?

I’m so cynical of news media now, that I’m not sure I have an answer for this! It’s nearly impossible to find reporting that isn’t polarised one way or another and the tumour that is social media just exacerbates the situation.

I try not to get too bogged down in news stories nowadays – it could be a full-time job in itself.

8. What is your favourite brand and why?

I think Tony’s Chocoloney is brilliant. Aside from the fact the chocolate is amazing, they have stuck fast to their mission to make chocolate 100% exploitation-free and have proven that you can be extremely commercially successful with a product that has a positive impact on the world.

They have over 15% of the Dutch chocolate market and are fighting slavery – as if I needed an excuse to eat more chocolate!

9. What’s the most recent new skill you have learnt?

My husband bought me a paddleboarding lesson for my birthday last summer and I adored it.

I’d never been in open water before and it took me pretty much the whole session to be able to actually stand up on the board, but now I’m hooked and I get out on my board whenever I can, thermal wetsuit and all!

10. We all use them… what management jargon phrase do you use the most?

I love a good cheesy phrase, so I whip them all out as soon as the opportunity presents! I probably say ‘game changer’ a bit too frequently, referring to anything from a new piece of software to a hairdryer.

The ones I absolutely hate (for no specific reason) are ‘low-hanging fruit’ and ‘sweet spot’. People get removed from Christmas card lists when they use those phrases.

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