The University of Wolverhampton alumni was back where her journey began to inspire innovation in businesses, like she had when she was part of the team that created the innovative Xbox Kinect device for gamers.
The 43-year-old, originally from Stourbridge, spoke to a lecture theatre of students and local businesses about setting up her own business so they could see how to seek out similar achievements.
She said: “For me I do a lot of conferences and events, especially in October, and give talks in LA and Silicon Valley to big time executives – but this is by far my favourite of the month to come back to my university. I was asked to come back to talk about successful companies and how you distinguish yourself from other brands.
“Look at Blackberry for example, they were very successful but closed down almost overnight. You need to know how to be different in this day and age.”
Val was part of the team behind Xbox Kinect which has voice command technology, motion tracking and facial recognition to login and play video games in a different way to the traditional sit down with a control pad method.
To highlight the importance of innovation at the event, she ditched the powerpoint presentation and used a microphone shaped as a ball which could be thrown around the room for everyone to ask questions and have their say. She said: “I was out for a drink with the girls and I said by the time I am 40 I want my own business and to write a book, and now the next one is coming out soon. It is nice to know there are people that were me 24 years ago so they can see what is possible.”
The talk comes ahead of her second book, called Trifecta, which discusses the working relationship between creative business and technical teams. Her first book, Thoughtfully Ruthless: The Key to Exponential Growth, was released last year and looks at which is about the best way to use energy as a business and make the most of resources. It was named Business Book of the Year 2017 by the Independent Press Awards.
Val started off at Dorothy Perkins where she was inspired by her store manager to be her own boss and then moved to House of Fraser while studying at the University of Wolverhampton. She now lives in LA with her three daughters and her husband.