WHEN Dragons' Den returns for a 15th series later this month, Jenny Campbell will make her debut, alongside fellow newcomer Tej Lalvani, in the fearsome line-up of multi-millionaire investors that includes Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden and Touker Suleyman.

Campbell was only 16 when she left school to begin working in a bank. Swiftly rising through the ranks to become one of the country's few senior female bankers, after three decades she decided to throw herself into a new venture - turning around a failing cash machine business. Sticking with the company through the toughest of times and relaunching it as YourCash, last year the business was sold for £50 million.

A recipient of the Business Woman of the Year, here Campbell reveals why she was determined to become a Dragon, stresses the importance of being proactive and shares her thoughts on pay disparity within the workplace.

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"When I first walked into the Den, I felt a bit like Goldilocks looking at the empty chairs and wanting to go and try every one. Once I knew how everything worked, that was it, I was off, no problems. I just claw myself into it and you just get on with what is hard work. For six weeks, it's 14 hours a day and it's full on. There are 102 pitches, and you need to try to remain fresh for all of them. I was apprehensive waiting to watch episode one but once I'd seen that, I thought, 'I'm OK. I don't look stupid and I think it is quite humorous'. The next hurdle will be getting episode one out with however many million viewers and then normalising whatever's normal when you're a full-blown Dragon.

"My role in Dragons' Den came about because I went to get it, frankly. People say, 'Well, did they target you?' and I reply, 'I would like to say I was headhunted but I saw the two Dragons were stepping down in the newspaper and I phoned my press office and said, 'That will be my seat then, won't it?' I was half joking but I'm usually half serious as well. They got me an interview in about a week. Then I waited three or four weeks to learn it was me. I've probably done a lot of this in my life. I make things happen and I made that happen. I don't wait for things to come to me. I go and get them.

"I'm not easily fazed by things. I don't really sit there and say, 'Gosh I'm a Dragon, gosh I'm celebrity'. I just think about the task in hand and I also think about doing the job properly and to a high standard and the job is giving that entrepreneur all your time, attention and expertise, that's why you're there. Forget the cameras are on you, this conversation I'm having with the entrepreneur is no different to the one I have with people in my office and people in the pub. I do what comes naturally, I know business inside out and back to front."

"We all go out to dinner together each night. Occasionally I go off to meet my family because they've come to Manchester (where the series is filmed) but most nights, all five of us are having dinner together and sometimes we're joined by some of the production crew. We just talk about life and families and so on. We don't talk about the day or investments, they're our private portfolios really. We just have normal restaurant conversation, a few laughs, of course, and we all walk back to the hotel and maybe have a night cap."

"I understand why Steve Parish decided to step down before filming because you've got to realise it's a very deep commitment to the show. He came to the training day when we sat in our chairs and did a couple of dummy runs with real entrepreneurs that haven't made the cut for filming. I came into the Den knowing that this wasn't just six weeks of filming, I knew the whole due diligence (that's required) after filming and I'm committed to those businesses for three, four years, however long it takes to grow them and get my investment out. I knew that going in, and I think it probably dawned on Steve as we did the rehearsals, he probably couldn't invest that alongside his existing commitments."

"The progression of women in corporate careers and the speed of progress still disappoints me across corporate industries. We're still not making enough of a positive stride forward and we lag behind other countries. For years and years, I've said I don't believe in quotas and stuck to that line, but you see the progress being far too slow. I have to say, I'm now beginning to think if you need an intervention to make change happen, then that is what we should do. I think that revolves around working practices. It was difficult for me when I had my career in London; I was commuting, I had two young children and had to get on that 5.30pm train to pick the kids up. I would get all the frowns from the male managers even though all my work was in my bag and I would start it again at 9 o'clock at night. I had all of that in the 90s and I'm not sure an awful lot has changed really, unfortunately."

"I think the more transparency (regarding wages), the better. I believe in people being paid the same amount of money for the same job but then it's sometimes difficult to argue that it is the same job and people bring different things, and if they can command a higher price, then that's what they're worth. I do think women's negotiation skills are not as tough as men's. I've said that for years. If I was offering a job, let's say with a pay range of £40,000 to £50,000, a male would come in fully expecting £50,000, whereas a woman would be happy if she got £40,000 plus some flexible benefits around child care and working hours. That's just the way we're wired unfortunately, and I think we need to wire ourselves a bit more like the men."

"Success starts with believing in yourself and pushing yourself forward. You don't have to tick all the boxes. I've always said, every new job I went for in the bank, I knew I could do 80% of the job, I knew I couldn't do 20 per cent, but I would learn, and as I have recruited people, I have always said, 'Recruit for attitude and train for skill'."

Dragons' Den begins on BBC Two on Sunday