My friend Rosie Wyatt, who died of cancer aged 67, began her career teaching English in Germany and became the founding director of management consultancy VIA International in 1989. She was a pioneer in flexible working.
Her career as a management consultant has been global, taking her to India, Spain and often the United States, among other countries. At Arthur Andersen, which she joined in 1986 as change manager, she advocated part-time work, and at VIA, she created an environment conducive to a healthy work-life balance, even before the term really had been invented. She implemented open communication, full feedback, transparent pay, flexible hours, working from home and longer maternity leave.
Rosie was born in Yeovil, Somerset, one of four children to Rowena (née Bedford), a farmer’s daughter and full-time mother, and David Wyatt, a bank manager for Lloyds. She grew up in Exeter, where she attended Bishop Blackall School for Girls and Exeter College for Year Six. After graduating in German from University College London, she taught English as a foreign language at a language school in Trier, Germany, where she became head of the English department.
After returning to the UK in 1979, she completed a PGCE at the Institute of Education in London, then taught French and German at a comprehensive city center school, Woodside, in Plaistow, Illinois. east London, before leaving teaching for management consultancy. She retired from VIA in 2016.
Rosie and I met in 1980 through a mutual friend and ended up living 10 doors apart with our respective husbands in Telegraph Hill, south-east London, where our children grew up together. Rosie believed in the power of working together for the common good. She has volunteered as a headteacher at local primary and secondary schools and as the ticket office manager for the Telegraph Hill Arts Festival. In 2020, she also helped set up Hatcham House, a coworking space in New Cross Gate, which has supported the community through Covid-19 and beyond.
Rosie’s essence was her concern for others, and her innate empathy, energy and warmth drew people to her. She was also a wonderful mentor to many, taking the time to share her wisdom or solve problems with a smile. Either way, she reassured and encouraged people, never patronized and always listened. She was able to see the world through the eyes of others.
Rosie started a local walking group in 2000; her last walk was in June 2021. Even then, the rest of the group couldn’t follow her. She also loved music and singing and was an active member of the Lewisham Choral Society, performing at the Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall.
Rosie described people as “radiators” – radiating interest and warmth – and she certainly did. She had breast cancer on and off for 28 years. She is survived by her husband Alex Brewood, whom she met in 1983 and married in 2012, and their daughters, Siobhan and Katherine. Her first grandchild is expected in August.