IN A male-dominated world, the managing director of an East Lancashire firm is proving there are no barriers to success.

Bharti Patel is leading Guide Security, a member of the Walker Trust's portfolio, into profitability and expansion - but always with the Walker's ethos at heart.

And it's a life in the security industry, working from the bottom up, that has informed the way she runs to business and how she treats her staff.

She said: "My parents came from India and worked in the cotton mills in the 1950s. They had to overcome a number of barriers to help them integrate, but it was never a problem.

"The local pastor helped to teach them English, but they instilled a work ethic in me and my brother and how to treat people.

"I started on a YTS scheme when I was 17 in Bolton on the tools in a security firm. That experience has helped to shape my career to where I am today.

"I've never worried about me sex or my race, it's never really been an issue. I have, occasionally, come across male chauvinists but I've never let it worry me. I've always just worked hard and it's brought me success.

"I have worked for a corporate entity, where it's all about dividends and bonuses. That never sat well with me.

"I came into Guide Security as general manager and then managing director and I wanted to create a more relaxed and inclusive workplace and give everyone a chance to make their mark on the business.

"We give our customers a personal and bespoke solution to their security requirements and we give our staff the room to grow and learn new skills.

"The business is only as strong as its people and I firmly believe that if we invest in our staff we will flourish and its proven to be the case.

"I took over a business that was going through tough time and we've been able to turn it around and last year we had a turnover of £4million so we are going in the right direction."

Guide Security was originally set up by the Walker family in 1996 to protect their properties - commercial and personal - and the firm has grown from there.

And it's the ethos of the late Walker brothers Jack, who helped Blackburn Rovers to Premier League glory in 1995, and Fred, that guides the firm even now.

Mrs Patel said: "I didn't know too much about the family when I first moved to the company but the legacy of the family is felt right across the borough.

"And we use their principles to drive the business. You have to work hard to succeed, you have to treat everyone with respect and you have to do a good job.

"About 90 per cent of our business is from referrals so that tells you all you need to know about our staff.

"We try and empower them to own a situation and grow. We have a lot of internal promotion and that's fantastic, and our apprenticeship programme is bearing fruit.

"We have yoga classes in our offices and we try to look after our staff. It's all gone to make a family atmosphere in the office.

"We celebrate achievements and successes. Our engineers are always getting commendations an it makes me so proud.

"We are custodians of the Walker family's legacy and it's something we take very seriously in everything we do."