FOUR down and one to go. No, not the number of top-level scalps claimed by the News Corp scandal, but the feats of endurance completed by Betfair’s Susannah Gill, the Iron Lady of the City, as part of her five-part “ultimate challenge” between April and September.

Gill, who is making the original iron woman Margaret Thatcher look lazy by rising at 5.45am three times a week to train for her final instalment, yesterday finished the London Triathlon in three hours and 20 minutes, adding to the London Marathon, the South East pentathlon and an 100km trail-walk across the South Downs.

The running leg of yesterday’s triathlon required “sheer mental determination”, but the 8.45am swim in the Docklands over one mile – “you could just about see your hand in front of you” – was even worse, said Gill, a public affairs manager at the gambling group, who is dreading the concluding 10km swim in the River Dart on 3 September.

“I am the world’s worst swimmer,” explained Gill, who is completing the five-stage physical challenge in aid of Betfair’s designated charity the Prostate Cancer Charity, with every pound of the £1,250 – and counting – raised for the cause matched by her employer. “But I have been assured that if you go with the tide, it will help you.”

A MASTERCLASS in stating the obvious from the accountants at ICAEW, in its ten-point plan to help businesses cope now the holiday season is in full swing.

“Try to anticipate employee holidays – how many staff can you afford to be away at the same time?” write the brains at the industry body. They then add, helpfully: “Make sure staff complete a proper handover… and that staff use their out-of-office email.”
ICAEW even offers counsel on how to reintegrate colleagues into office life. “Once people have returned from holiday, give them time to adjust,” it advises. “However, try to make sure that people regain their productivity quite quickly.”

To apply for membership of the oracle of common sense, see en/join-us. Meanwhile, The Capitalist will be having a lie down…

TOO often, talented businesswomen hold themselves back by devaluing their own achievements. Just ask Margaret Mountford (left), a former adviser to Lord Sugar on The Apprentice, who moderated a “conversation on creative leadership” at Cambridge University sponsored by law firm Addleshaw Goddard and Barclays Wealth.

City headhunter Jan Hall spoke on leadership skills for women, while Anji Hunter of Anglo American – the only mining company with a female CEO – debated why “soft” issues relating to the workforce are an essential part of a responsible business.

Completing the panel were McKinsey & Co’s Tamara Rajah – who was once “firmly told” by a male colleague that her ten years’ experience didn’t qualify her to talk on leadership for women – and Royal Mail boss Moya Greene, who encouraged the 70 female executives in the audience to “outsource” family responsibilities.

“Women need to give up the guilt and expend their energies on those areas where they can best apply their talents,” said the chief executive in charge of modernising the Post Office.

DOMINO’S Pizza set the trend last November, and today restaurant chain Zizzi and toy retailer The Entertainer have followed suit by introducing the electronic charity box Pennies to their shop tills.

Shoppers can donate as little as 1p through the micro-donation service – but, as The Entertainer’s owner Gary Grant (pictured above) will no doubt be reminding his customers, those pennies soon turn into pounds.

About £150m, in fact – the estimated amount that would be raised for charity every year if the UK’s 43 million card holders each donated a penny every day.