For the past two decades, Sylvia Marshall has been at the forefront of British and international business training and development. She has transformed dozens of ailing businesses through a combination of strategic thinking and bold, forwardthinking leadership.
Having completed a doctorate in Business Psychology, her remarkable career began as the training director for American International Group (AIG). She went on to launch the international training and consultancy agency, Able Training International, in 1992. The business grew into a global market leader in its sector, and mentored senior executives of many of the world’s largest financial institutions.
Fast-forward a decade, and Sylvia was unexpectedly, but fortuitously,introduced to the world of property renovation. Following a sudden hike in commercial rent, she bought a derelict bank in Croydon with a view of converting it into an exclusive office complex. It would be the biggest, and boldest, decision of her life.
“The builders I hired turned-out to be cowboys and, rather than risk more botched work, I decided to tackle the project myself,” she said.
Despite no practical knowledge, she learned the craft the hard way – by trial and error – and slowly began making headway. Within the space of a few years, she filmed the work as she went and uploaded the footage online. To her surprise, her videos of triumphs and disasters became an instant hit and attracted audiences of up to 100,000 in more than 20 countries worldwide.
CosyHomesOnline.com, Britain’s best-loved and fastest-growing online tutorial platform, was born… Britain’s bestloved and fastestgrowing online tutorial platform, was born…
Within the space of a few years, Sylvia’s passion for renovation took her to Wester Ross, in the wilds of north Scotland, where she set about building a new Scottish croft. As before, her “warts ‘n all” videos became an overnight internet sensation.
[Sylvia would return to Wester Ross a few years later to begin her first commercial project – to build four other crofts. Where other, lesser, developers would have cut corners, Sylvia chose to use traditional methods and use only authentic materials. She used each and every stone from derelict crofts on the site, and painstakingly reassembled them to ensure she “protected the future whilst respecting the past” – a philosophy she has stuck to ever since. The crofts she created won the hearts of residents and homebuyers, and the respect of historians and Scottish Natural Heritage.]
In 2008, Sylvia embarked on what the media described as one of the most difficult and daring restoration projects in West Sussex by saving a magnificent 16th-Century, Grade II-listed thatched cottage in Selsey. The property had been left completely gutted by fire but, with the support of English Heritage, returned Sessions House to its former glory. The project was viewed by millions after it aired on BBC’s Empty Homes.
Sylvia – the holder of a coveted Lifetime Achievement Award at the UK National Sales Awards – is now one of the UK’s most celebrated women in business. She is also one of the most decorated after qualifying in bricklaying, plastering, tiling, plumbing, carpentry and electrics. CosyHomesOnline.com has more than 70,000 worldwide members while her new ‘DIY-divvy’ site, BubsyDogDIY. com – which offers handy hints and insider tips about home improvements – was voted site of the week by Real Homes Magazine.
From the outset – and long before ‘corporate responsibility’ became the norm, Sylvia was determined that her businesses should “give something back”. This ethos has led to a partnership with the Marie Curie Cancer Care charity.