The work-life quiz: Merlie Calvert

What was your first-ever job?
I worked Thursday evenings and Saturdays in a shop selling leather jackets and bags, then I moved to Marks & Spencer.

What was your worst experience as a trainee?
Splitting the seat of my trousers shortly before a client meeting and having to ask the partner’s secretary to bring me a needle and thread so I could make a mad dash, lever-arch file strategically placed at my rear, to the ladies. The worst part was that I had happily walked through my department oblivious to the fact that my knickers were on show.

Where’s the best place to go if you want to find out what’s really going on in the office?
The secretaries, the post room and the security guards.

What time do you leave the office?
Between 7pm and 9.30pm.

What do you do at weekends?
Sleep, shop, gym, garden, re-acquaint myself with my very tolerant husband, work a bit, write fiction, watch movies and try to spend time with friends.

What’s your favourite restaurant?
Fredericks and Bavo in Islington, Galvin on Baker Street and the Oxo Tower. If you weren’t a lawyer what would you be?
I wanted to be a farmer at one point, then an astronaut, or maybe something medical or veterinary.

Who’s your hero and why?
My father for being a real rock on all occasions. But in the business world, De Beers managing director Gareth Penny who’s energetic, dedicated and constantly positive.

What’s the best thing about your job?
The people, the variety of work and its cutting-edge nature, the opportunities and the subject matter: diamonds. What’s the toughest thing about your job?
Not enough hours in the day.

What’s your biggest work/career mistake and what did you learn from it?
Not trying harder to avoid six months’ training in commercial property. I was bored senseless.

What car do you drive?
Audi A3 Sportback.

What book are you reading?
Seven Wonders of the World, but I’ve forgotten who the author is.

What’s on your iPod ?
Corinne Bailey Rae and the latest Hed Kandi CDs.

What’s your favourite children’s book?
Malcolm Saville’s Lone Pine Club books, Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons and the Famous Five books.

What’s the most exciting deal/case you have worked on and why?
I used to love working with one of SJ Berwin‘s music industry clients – particularly around the time that Napster came out and all sorts of new and never-before-contemplated issues emerged.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what two luxury items would you take?
My Prada sunglasses and a solar-powered laptop so I could write fiction uninterrupted.

What’s the longest you’ve worked without sleep?
About 36 hours when I was a trainee in corporate finance.

If a movie was being made about your life, which actor would play you and why?
Sarah Michelle Gellar, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer actress, would probably be a good fit. Someone who scrubs up OK but can kick butt when necessary.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with?
Anyone neurotic.

Name: Merlie Calvert
Title: Group manager of corporate legal services (north), senior competition counsel
Company: De Beers Group Services UK
Lives: Islington/Hackney border
Education: University of Bristol, College of Law, BPP Law School
Work history:
1997-2002: Solicitor, SJ Berwin;
2002 to date: Competition counsel, De Beers
2004 to date: De Beers group manager, corporate legal services (north)