Karen Burrows, managing director of Madeira UK, discusses working at a haberdashery, being an astronaut and remembering David Bowie

When did you start in the industry?
When I was in primary school! I was seven or eight and helped my mum’s friend tidying reels of threads and ribbons in her haberdashery shop on Saturdays. Who would have guessed where I would end up! I began with Madeira doing stock control and purchasing, then evolved into a variety of roles, including sales and customer service, industrial manager and marketing at head office in Freiburg. Now I’m MD at Madeira UK and sales director for northern Europe. All in all, thirty years at Madeira (since primary school of course!).

What’s your most over-used phrase?
”There is no such word as can’t.”

Which tune can’t you get out of your head at the moment?
With the news of David Bowie passing, there’s an entire medley of his songs in my head – Space Oddity, Let’s Dance, Rebel Rebel, China Girl and more – Dancing in the Street, which I remember from the original Live Aid.

What’s your favourite sports team?
I have two: Blackpool FC and Manchester United. Having been brought up in a football mad family, football is in my blood. My dad played for Blackpool Reserves and Granddad held a season ticket at Bloomfield Road, standing in the same spot all his life. I started supporting Manchester United in my teens and actually was a ‘Stretford Ender’, hardly ever missing a match. I was very torn when both Blackpool and Man United were in the Premier League in 2010/11. Blackpool beat Liverpool 2-1 at home – great result for a Man United fan too – but were beaten 2-3 by United at home. The last game of the season, United devastated Blackpool with a 4-2 win, relegating Blackpool, but winning the title and becoming England’s most successful team. Very mixed feelings for me!

Tomato ketchup or brown sauce?
Ketchup. But I prefer homemade chutney, supplied by a generous culinary friend.

What’s your most unappealing habit?
That’s not for me to answer!

What’s your guilty pleasure?
Why feel guilty? … Although if I open a box of Maltesers, I eat them all!

If you could be anywhere on earth right now, where would it be?
So many places! But from childhood I have always wanted to see the earth from space.

If you were to pursue another occupation what would it be?
Astronaut or lollipop lady.

Which gadget or app couldn’t you live without?
My iPad, not only for communication, but fantastic for reading when away from home now I have finally accepted ebooks instead of lugging the real thing around.

What is your favourite radio programme?
Chris Evans on BBC Radio 2.

What was the last book you read?
Kiss of the Bees by JA Jance.

“An entire medley of David Bowie songs in my head…”

Madeira owner Ulrich Schmidt presenting Karen with flowers on her 30th anniversary with the company

“I have always wanted to see the earth from space…”

Karen joined Madeira in 1985