The Female Focus

THE FEMALE FOCUS: EMMA HAMMETT

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Meet the Founder of First Aid For Life

We met Emma through our work with the British Library and we’ve seen her business grow and grow through sheer passion and determination for giving people the confidence and tools to save lives. Here’s her story!

Empowering people with the skills and confidence to administer first aid, saves lives and prevents life altering injuries

Did you have a female role model or someone you admired as a kid? 

My older sister, her daughter and my mother, certainly. All three women epitomise everything I strive for - to work hard, have integrity, look after other people and to have a legacy. My sister was twenty years older than me, had been a very successful nurse and sadly she is no longer with us. She was involved in a car accident which left her brain damaged and my niece (and my sister’s wonderful husband) were her carers for twenty years. My mother had seven of us and worked extremely hard, always put the family first, therefore she wasn’t able to do what she wanted and really achieve her own ambitions sadly until after my father died, when I was 9 and the only one still at home. We had great fun together and our family remains very close. She had always been a grafter, making sure we had everything we needed. She taught me that you get out what you put in. I hope that I am passing this mantra onto my children. 

 

How do you think your early years have influenced what you do today?

I have always worked hard and as an entrepreneur, resilience is so important. It’s come from being a headmaster’s daughter and having a huge, supportive family. As kids we always mucked in, helping my dad out with things like sending out letters to parents. There’s over 150 people in our close family and we all keep in touch and lean on each other. There’s a strong ethos towards education and health in our family’s careers and interests and doing things that help other people. Having that security of a family voice and values influence me hugely.

 

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You trained as a nurse before setting up First Aid For Life. Tell us what made you start the business.

As a nurse, particularly in A&E, you see time and time again situations where first aid has been positive or sometimes it hasn’t happened, because someone has misunderstood something. There was a pivotal moment when I was looking after a little boy and the mother spilled hot coffee over him. She ran outside with the screaming child to get help, when what she should have done is run cool water over the burns - just simple first aid. He suffered severe burns and secondary infections, which could have easily been prevented. Empowering people with the skills and confidence to administer first aid, saves lives and prevents life altering injuries. It was frustrating knowing how many people could have avoided A&E altogether had they known how to help and give appropriate first aid in the emergency.  

Fabrice Muamba came perilously close to death on the football pitch. His life was saved with a defibrillator and treatment that is readily available if people have the skills and confidence to step forward. First aid saves lives and prevents minor injuries becoming major ones. 

We do loads of work in schools to prevent knife crime and we know that the overall impact is positive when first aid is taught in schools. In Scandinavia, it is compulsory learning in schools and their survival rates following cardiac arrest are 3 times better than ours. Take road accidents; the UK is one of the only countries in Europe where first aid isn’t a mandatory part of the driving test. Elsewhere, if you’re hit by a car or knocked off a bike someone will know what to do and they’ll carry a kit in their car. That’s when you start seeing a real impact. We’re still chipping at the edges.

 

You are positive impact personified! What have been some of the most positive results come from the work you do?

We receive loads of lovely messages thanking us for what we do and for the impact our training has; from people saving people, to people saving animals. We are creating peace of mind giving people confidence that they would know how to help themselves or others in a medical emergency. If a child starts choking, they’ll know whether it’s serious and they can act calmly and know the majority of the time they will be able to help. It takes away the panic, that it’s not going to be a disaster. We have so much free information to give people - for schools, new mums, nurses, carers, doctors and beyond. For those who don’t have the money, we can help them with information, which is all on the site. We have three books too (which are Amazon Bestsellers)- Burns, Falls and Emergency Calls; Slips, Trips and Fractured Hips and First Aid for Dogs. We train professionals as well as volunteers of charities, such as the MayTree Trust for suicidal crisis, as well as helping adults and children to learn these skills and working with people with learning disabilities to ensure everyone can gain access to these skills.

 

How do you keep learning more whilst on the job?

Learning is so important in different ways. I am well aware of sounding sense in the saying, “Use it, or you’ll lose it” so I am constantly trying to stimulate my mind. Learning from other businesses is just amazing and I love my peer mentoring, networking and mastermind groups, where we all support each other on our businesses. The British Library Business & IP Centre is also incredibly helpful - it puts on loads of events with a host of business owners to guide us on what works and what hasn’t worked. I really loved working as a mentor with the British Library and getting to know another business in detail, digging deep to help them find new ways forward and maximise their business potential. I am an active member of the Guild of Nurses and the Guild of Health Writers. I do a show with Talk Radio and Eamonn Holmes, which keeps me on my toes. Tomorrow, I am on a mental health first aid course as there’s so much confusion between physical and mental health. We need to understand as a society how we address mental health and the connection with physical. As employers we can do a lot to care for staff wellbeing.

It’s also nice to learn things that aren’t to do with work. Last week I took a day off to visit a National Trust property and my daughter and I have started Spanish lessons too. The beauty of running your own business is that you can adjust your own hours to do the things that matter.

 

One of many free resources from First Aid for Life

One of many free resources from First Aid for Life

What have been the essential factors that have enabled you to get to where you are today that you think you'd struggle without? 

My supportive family, for sure. My husband, children and extended family appear all over my books and blogs and are happy to appear in various states of distress. I stress that no one’s been injured in the making of these images (!). My admin team are utterly fab and their attention to detail is superb, it is vital to recognise that members of the team are often better at elements of my business than me. It is critical to be able to delegate, without this, the business can’t grow. Start delegating and stop doing things that you are not best at, or don’t fuel your passion, as otherwise you will just trade your time for money. The only way to grow exponentially is to get other people on board.

I think as an entrepreneur you need to understand what you are good at and what aren’t your strengths. You also need a huge dollop of resilience, self-motivation and dogged determination. When I set up there were a lot of doubters, which wasn’t helpful. The first person that didn’t choose to book with me, I took personally, which is ridiculous in hind-sight as no-one has a 100% conversion rate. I soon learnt that it’s about getting to a point where you’re working with people you want to work with, who understand your personal and business values and become part of your tribe. 

 

Where do you get your inspiration?

All sorts. A lot of the time it’s other businesses. My family too; my son was responsible for me building the first online first aid course for Zombie Apocalypse! My customers often suggest topics and courses and we are always listening and reacting to their feedback. Overall, I have a real desire to leave a positive legacy and create a positive impact. You only get one chance at this life and I would like to leave it knowing that I have enabled more people to access life saving first aid skills and that the world is consequently a slightly safer place. 

 

What do you think is missing from businesses in building true diversity? 

It’s something businesses should be thinking about but when they’re starting up and ensuring that their language and accessibility enables diversity. However, the reality is that people in small businesses generally recruit based on need and suitability for the position and diversity becomes a secondary factor.

 

What are you working on this year?

I want to do a lot more for schools, we have produced a wealth of invaluable free resources and I am also working on a campaign around preventing non-accidental injury – such as child and elder abuse. We have set up a social cause called http://www.staysafe.support with the support of RoSPA, Age UK, Dame Esther Rantzen, Hugh Pym (the BBC Health Correspondent) and Carolyn Cripps OBE, Fit for Safety; signposting older people and their carers, to resources to help them remain fit and well. There are many issues for older people, from their susceptibility to falls, to fraud and loneliness. I am also ensuring that we’re creating loads more quality content that resonates with the audience and press. 

 

Who's a woman to watch or someone you admire in 2019?

What a difficult question: Emma Watson holds herself with integrity and is a strong ambassador and great role model. Meghan Markle and Michelle Obama are similarly trying to leave a positive legacy and stand up for their beliefs. I also admire the people of my son and daughter’s generation who, as young people, often get a knocking but are still able to be focused, with a sense of integrity and strong work ethic. It’s a tough world out there and I think it could be even harder for the next generation.

  

Name the quote you live by

‘Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today’. There’s often too much overthinking going on and people dilly dally striving for perfection – once it is good, get your message out there. You can perfect it afterwards.



Catch up with Emma’s next move for saving lives on Twitter and Instagram!

THE FEMALE FOCUS: EMMA SEXTON

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Meet Emma, Serial entrepreneur and Connector

She is the epitome of the word ‘entrepreneur’ and we’re never sure how she makes time to run her business MYWW™, present on talkRADIO for The Badass Women’s Hour, advise at board level on design strategy to brands and businesses, feature as Creative Pool Top 100 Influencer 2017 & 2018 and take up the post of Creative In Residence at King's College, London, Entrepreneurial Institute. Phew!

I am a bit tired of businesses who decide on a set of values to operate by and decorate them onto a wall but in reality they never get authentically lived

Did you have a female role model or someone you admired as a kid?

I can’t remember anyone specifically but there were lots of people I admired for different reasons. There were those who intrigued me and had attributes of the person I wanted to become. I suppose I was drawing up my own human Pinterest board. I don’t mean celebrities, I mean people I looked up to and thought, “I want to do that one day”. I was aware of a theme I was drawn to and it was those running a business or a person’s mindset towards life.

How do you think your early years have influenced what you do today?

As much as I had a great upbringing I don’t think I was exposed to enough of the world as a child. I lived in a very comfortable bubble. My desire to go to London and then to finally move here really opened up my world. I had never felt like I fitted because I know I wanted to experience a very different life than what I was seeing around me. I couldn’t identify with them in many ways and I really struggled with that. I sometimes wonder what I would be doing differently had I grown up around more diverse people, lifestyles and culture, for instance.

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You’re a business founder, a broadcaster, a speaker and connector and you don’t have an office. How do you create a culture amongst the people you work with?

I can’t count the times I’ve heard people say, “if we don’t have an office, we don’t have a culture”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. At MYWW™, our culture is built on the way we communicate - it is about how we interact with each other, be that face-to-face or via a smartphone. I am a bit tired of businesses who decide on a set of values to operate by and decorate them onto a wall but in reality they never get authentically lived. From the very first day I started my business the culture has been focused on being respectful to one another. We embrace candour and honesty and make sure we have the difficult conversations. We also just get the fucking work done while weaving our lives around our client’s needs. There have definitely been some learnings mastering this approach but it works. It’s a culture we can sustain because it is authentic and people can thrive as individuals.

You’re a propagator for pushing real women’s conversations into the mainstream and redesigning ‘business as usual’ to make it better, not just for women but for everyone. What would be the first thing you’d do in your redesign?

I feel like I am doing it all the time by allowing people to weave life into their work and challenging our traditional ‘masculine’ approach to business. As an employee you are often a resource - there to make someone else more money while the business interest is in paying you the least. I stand by a people first, business second principle. I do not have a business without great people so my job is to keep my team content so they can do the best job for our clients. Happy team = happy client!

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What do you think is missing from businesses in building true diversity?

A lack of consciousness. It’s about consciousness versus unconsciousness. If you’re unconscious you’re only seeing the world from your point view. If you’re conscious you learn that there are things you haven’t experienced that others have and you try really hard to understand this as best you can. We have lived in a very one dimensional society for so long and it’s high time we all listen more, raise our awareness and massively dial up our empathy.

What does ‘badass’ mean to you?

For me, it’s about living life on your terms. It’s about being authentic, seeing multiple dimensions to one thing and choosing the one that fits with you and how you want your life to be.

You are positive impact personified! What have been some of the most positive results you’ve seen from the work you do?

It makes me happy that I can make my staff happy. Recently, one of my employees told me that MYWW™ has changed her life. She’s always worked agency-side and was never able to balance work with looking after her child. Now, she can do pick-up from school, work at home when she chooses and vary the times of days she works. She’s happier, less stressed, and no longer feeling like she’s torn between two worlds. That’s important to me. The more money I make the more I can help others live happier work lives. Work has become such a cumbersome thing where people end up self medicating at the weekend and head towards extremes to escape their working lives. It doesn’t have to be this way. I had read so much about better ways to work and what we need to be happy human beings, now I am practicing it rather than talking about it and always happy to share my learnings with anyone else who wants to know how to make it work for them.

(Being a badass) is about living life on your terms

How do you keep learning more whilst on the many jobs you have?

I think having a mindset that the more I know the more I realise I don’t know! And you don’t have a choice to keep learning if you want to have a successful business! I am a work in progress and want to keep evolving even if I am 90 years old. As the business changes, I change with it. As I change, the business changes. The day I don’t want to learn is probably the day I am done with life!

What have been the essential factors that have enabled you to get to where you are today that you think you'd struggle without?

Resilience; overcoming fear of rejection; sheer bloody mindedness!

Where do you get your inspiration?

People always inspire me. There are lots of different sources and I keep it varied in the types of people I interact with. Working with the ventures at King’s in my role as Expert in Residence on their award winning accelerator scheme has opened up my eyes to new ideas, technology and fresh business perspectives. Every year, through the initiative, I meet over 40 of some of the smartest entrepreneurs from all the over the world - I gain so much from my sessions with them.

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You’re constantly interviewing interesting women on a weekly basis as part of the Badass Women’s Hour. Who's a woman to watch or someone you admire in 2019?

We had an amazing author on, called Tomi Adeyemi, who is the author of the very successful book ‘Children of Blood and Bone’. Her interview was so inspiring so she was one (of so many guests) who really stood out for me. Tomi is only 21 and tipped to be next JK Rowling. She had always really wanted to be an author and hearing her journey of how she went from quitting her job to getting the book published was really special. As a teenager she’d been fixated with fiction but could never identify with it because of her African heritage. She’s rewritten for the genre from her perspective.

 

Name the quote you live by

“The world will not invite you to the feast. You must burst in, demand a seat, and take it.” John Carlton

I realised early on that no one was going to go, ‘here you go Emma, here’s all the opportunities you are waiting so patiently for’, so I got my head down, decided what I wanted and worked bloody hard to get them all - but I am not stopping yet!

Keep up to date with what Emma does next (we’re sure there’ll be something exciting) on Twitter and Instagram.



THE FEMALE FOCUS: CAROLINE HAILSTONE

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Meet Caroline, a Content Writer, Journalist & Producer at The Fable Bureau and Pioneers Post

She’s a multi-hyphenate of our era, straddling roles at both the creative agency for social ventures as well as at the mission-driven magazine. She’s also an incredible musician, roaming the streets with her street orchestra collective. She’s an old colleague and we love what makes her tick. Read on!

Did you have a female role model or someone you admired as a kid?

My mum. As long as I’ve been alive she has always helped people in the community. She runs the local soup kitchen and always takes the load of everyone else. My friends at school too - they are ambitious and go-getting and still are.

Caroline on location for a production job

Caroline on location for a production job

How do you think your early years have influenced what you do today?

Studies show that older siblings have more traditional roles, paving the way for their younger siblings to often do more creative things. That’s certainly true in my case. From a young age, my sisters and I were always encouraged to do everything drama to music. I was encouraged to do what I enjoyed. When I was at school, I realised early on that I was quite good at writing because my teachers would ask me to read out what I’d written to entire classrooms. I got to know that with writing you can tap into your non-thinking brain and not overthink so good stuff comes out.



You started your career in a marketing agency doing PR and social (with Clo)! What experiences did you develop there that have helped set you up for your role right now?

Loads of stuff - I definitely learnt the basics! I learnt to be strategic and I remember thinking, ‘why are we doing this campaign?’, ensuring that everything we did had an outcome. I also learnt how to do things on a smaller budget and the beauty of being creative with it, which has stood me in good stead in the area of social enterprise!

Caroline in action recording a podcast

Caroline in action recording a podcast

Pioneers Post is setting the agenda for the new wave of responsible business leaders and social entrepreneurs. What businesses have peaked your interest lately?

Hey Girls, which tackles period poverty, for sure. It’s a good reminder that strong branding and marketing are important in creating social change. The brand is beautiful, it’s got a cool edge, it sells really nice products and has an ethical supply chain. The CEO Celia Hodson is really cool too - she used to be deputy Chief Exec of Social Enterprise UK - and she’s created a family business heaped in purpose.



What are the main barriers for businesses and social enterprises creating positive impact in the UK?

Standing out. Brands like Innocent, who launched the very successful Big Knit campaign to raise money for Age UK, give knitted hats to old ladies, have tapped into the social change bit but are not a social enterprise. So some social enterprises struggle to stand out from commercial brands doing good.



What do you think is missing from business in building true diversity?

It was interesting visiting the Diversity Forum recently. It’s a collective with a mission to drive inclusive social investment in the UK. Danyal Sattar, CEO of Big Issue Invest as well as John Bird, founder of the Big Issue spoke there. They told us about how the Big Issue was set up by the children of working class Irish immigrants, who saw themselves as diverse, but actually when they eventually looked around they realised they were full of white men.


You are positive impact personified! What have been some of the most positive results you’ve seen from the work you do?

Being part of the WISE 100 - Women in Social Enterprise Awards - has been really impactful in seeing change. WISE 100 brings 100 women together in a room and it’s like the FTSE 100 but for those in social enterprise. You see how passionate these women are to be a part of it and immense pride for being a woman in the space. I want to be a part of keeping these awards going, along with the passionate team I work with.


How do you keep learning more whilst on the job?

Sometimes it’s easy to keep a job easy when you know it inside out. But what keeps me on my toes are the monthly impact analysis meetings we have in place at The Fable Bureau / Pioneers Post. When we’ve made a film we will sit down together and assess as a team how we can make it better. It’s changed the way I think about doing my job and I am more conscious of how we can improve and get better.



Where do you get your inspiration?

At work I can get it from anywhere. In our meetings, we’ll bring films and documentaries that inspire us. I regularly go to galleries and concerts, which keep my mind ticking. I also play in Street Orchestra Live, where we play in hospitals and random places rather than concert halls. It takes away any sense of ego or any nervousness about making music, because it makes you realise that at the end of the day it should be about bringing people joy.

Street Orchestra Live

Street Orchestra Live


Who's a woman to watch or someone you admire in 2019?

All my teammates are cool, strong women. All 7 of us are women apart from the CEO and we keep our boss on his toes. We also work with Ealing Community Transport, which is a really important service for those who are immobile and would otherwise be stuck at home. Their CEO Anna Whitty is very cool and she stands her ground in what is a male-dominated industry.



Name the quote you live by

There isn’t one particular quote I live by, though recently I like the song ‘Make Love to Your Mind’ by Bill Withers...it’s cool to think about people you meet that make you intrigued with their minds.

 

And if you’re a social enterprise reading this, get on board with Caroline and the Pioneers Post team for a day of marketing and communications workshops, including a key note from the awesome Sam Conniff Allende. It’s on 26th February, with more details here. Follow Caroline and the teams at Pioneers Post and The Fable Bureau on Twitter.

THE FEMALE FOCUS: GEORGIE POWELL

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Georgie Powell, Founder of SPACE

We’ve been lucky enough to work with Georgie and SPACE, the app she founded to encourage us to have more tech/life balance and less mindless phone scrolling. Georgie tells us why her own tech overdose led her to create SPACE and why millions are downloading it.

(Having kids) made me realise more than ever that if I am to be working away from them, I need to care about what I do.

Did you have a female role model or someone you admired as a kid?

My first headmistress. Her motto was to always make a difference. She had gravitas, poise and purpose.

How do you think your early years have influenced what you do today?

Both of my parents showed me how what you put into life you get out. They both worked hard and I lived abroad for much of my youth, experiencing different cultures whilst living in different places.

What led you down the path of building Space and what has surprised you most about the process so far?

I had been thinking about my relationship with technology for a while - how it didn’t always make me feel great. I had a wakeup moment when I became a new mum, whilst breastfeeding my child, that I was scrolling through photos of her on my phone. She was right there in front of me and I was missing the moment! I instantly became interested in the technology overdose that so many of us are experiencing.

I never anticipated that startup life would be such a rollercoaster. One of the things that put me off corporate life is that success is often based not on what you do, but how you communicate what you do to your peers and bosses. I know I’m having an impact in making this app, but communication is still so important. I have learnt I need to make storytelling present in everything SPACE does. I know I need to find the right way to communicate our successes, our vision, our impact. If this business was run by guys they would spin it into something bigger. I’m conscious of this but haven’t found the solution yet.

Georgie and her baby

Georgie and her baby

How do you keep learning more whilst on the job?

I care so passionately about the issue of tech/life balance and am constantly on the hunt for more research and findings on how it’s impacting people’s lives. It was really important for me to choose a business I really care about. I learn a new skill every day, from building a new email template, to understanding how PR works. There’s an element of enforced learning with start-up life.


What have been the essential factors that have enabled you to get to where you are today that you think you'd struggle without?

Having kids. They gave me the impetus to make this a reality. They made me realise more than ever that if I am to be working away from them, I need to care about what I do. Technology and social media is going to have an impact on their future too.

SPACE has had a lean model from the outset which has allowed for flexibility. I was able to have a day job and launch the venture alongside it, which was great. This meant that I learnt whilst still on the job and we didn’t have upfront fixed costs. I was looking for partnerships from the beginning to avoid capital risk.


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Where do you get your inspiration?

I have a few things. A close friend who has a very successful startup - Messly, an NHS recruitment service - definitely inspires me. He has amazing tenacity and drive. I get ongoing inspiration from my kids and I continue to be inspired by the sector I’m in. Having a flexible lifestyle keeps me alive too. The thought of being back in corporate life makes me feel grey.


You led YouTube’s content business in Australia and New Zealand. Do you think businesses of such a large scale can have a grip on staff work life balance? And if they don’t, what can they do about it?

They can. Google did it really well. For them, it’s not about having staff face-time but about deliverables - it’s on you to make it work. It’s a fine line to make sure people have enough work; complex enough but not too stretched so they don’t lose their balance. And it’s about ensuring it’s flexible enough so that time is carved out specifically not for work.


What do you think is missing from businesses in building true diversity?

There’s still a lot of unconscious bias out there in the way people are hired and promoted. Business leaders often hire versions of themselves and it’s evident particularly in tech.


Who's a woman to watch or someone you admire in 2019?

Women in my daily life inspire me - friends, family and other mums who give so much to everything. And this might be controversial, but to be honest, at the moment Theresa May is also a huge inspiration. The way she has conducted herself with class and tenacity throughout the Brexit process and how she took on a job that was always going to be a poison chalice is impressive.


Name the quote you live by

Always make a difference, as my headmistress taught me, and what you put in you get out, following in my parents’ footsteps.



Check out Georgie on LinkedIn and if you feel you need more time away from your phone but are unsure of what to do next, find out more about what SPACE can do to help here.



THE FEMALE FOCUS: SOPHIE HOBSON

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Sophie Hobson, Head of Comms at the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE)

SSE helps 1,000 people a year develop the skills, strengths and networks they need to tackle society’s biggest problems. We caught up with Sophie on fangirling Esther Rantzen and her passion for creating opportunities for the people society has left behind.

Most organisations do not reflect the society they serve. We need to ask difficult questions of ourselves, if we want to counter our biases and become more inclusive.

Did you have a female role model or someone you admired as a kid?

I was obsessed with Esther Rantzen as a kid! I learnt about Childline when I was quite young and thought it was an amazing idea for supporting children who were having a difficult time. As the founder of that charity, she could do no wrong in my little eyes. A pretty unusual role-model for a seven-year-old, I suppose, but there you go!



How do you think your early years have influenced what you do today?

My mum has volunteered for Cancer Research since before I was born, and is always organising fundraising events that seem genuinely fun. That – along with my fangirling Esther Rantzen – definitely sparked a commitment to charitable causes and social change. There was a lot of campaigning going on about greenhouse gases and protecting endangered species that reached me as a child, too. I remember I had a children’s book created by Greenpeace about the Rainbow Warrior, and another by the Vegetarian Society that was a kind of survival guide for vegetarian teenagers. I guess all those things wiggled their way into my identity. (And made me annoyingly self-righteous as a teenager... sorry, everyone.) And I’ve always loved writing and drawing, which explains the communications bit.

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You have helped build several startups in the past. What led you down this path and what were some of your biggest learnings?

It’s so exciting to work at a start-up. I loved feeling like I was genuinely helping to shape the direction of those businesses, and how quickly I could make ideas a reality. It’s very fast-moving, and I enjoy wearing lots of hats. It is also – as everyone says – an emotional rollercoaster. You have to be prepared for the days when everything feels frustrating and desperate, sometimes just days apart from the successes - when it feels like you’re going to take over the world! I think my biggest learning is how important it is to be working with a team that you trust and you like, when you’re in that environment. You often have to go above and beyond the call of duty to make things work, and that only feels worth it when you respect your team-mates. In a small team, mutual respect and a shared vision are essential.



How do you keep learning more whilst on the job?

Talking to people in similar roles to me at other organisations, reading and doing regular training to develop my skillset, and keeping an eye on what other sectors and organisations are doing to innovate in my field.

I have had a relatively privileged life. I would be an idiot not to recognise how that has opened certain doors for me.

What have been the essential factors that have enabled you to get to where you are today that you'd think you'd struggle without?

I have learnt how to keep my work-life balance in check. I love talking to people and I am creative. Overall, I feel okay about myself… apart from the inevitable imposter syndrome sneaking in from time to time. Also, I have had a relatively privileged life. I would be an idiot not to recognise how that has opened certain doors for me. For example, I have had a good education, a loving family, generally been in good health, and always had a roof over my head. I believe it is completely random that I have ended up with that amount of luck, and it’s not fair that people in other circumstances might find it more difficult to find meaningful employment or support. I guess that’s why I spend my working life supporting social entrepreneurs and social-sector leaders – they’re tackling injustices and creating opportunities for the people society has left behind.


Where do you get your inspiration?

Trying to take in a diverse range of media, observing other people’s behaviours, and finding out what other people are excited by and geek out on. Also, walking among lots of plants helps clear my mind.

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What do you think is missing from businesses in building true diversity?

Inclusivity, and shying away from difficult questions. Most organisations do not reflect the society they serve, but the people working there are afraid to ask why some people have ended up excluded. We need to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. It takes hard work, self-reflection and challenge to our own beliefs to understand why we are prejudiced towards certain people. We need to ask difficult questions of ourselves, if we want to counter our biases and become more inclusive.



Do you think social entrepreneurship is opening more doors for women to come through?

Absolutely! The majority of social entrepreneurs we support at SSE are women. Across the UK more broadly, 40% of social enterprises are led by women, according to research from Social Enterprise UK.

SSE Global Team

SSE Global Team

You now work with the School for Social Entrepreneurs. How can businesses help make social entrepreneurship a success in this country?

Loads of ways! Businesses can work in partnership with social enterprises, get them in their supply chain and buy from them (this directory will help). Larger corporates can provide funding to the social-enterprise sector. Of course, the ideal solution would be for businesses to become social enterprises themselves! Even big businesses can make this change, as Cordant Group proved last year.



You’re an expert in content marketing. What brands are on your radar right now that you believe are pushing the boundaries in this space?

I’m more interested in how organisations are using technologies like virtual reality (VR) and voice to create more powerful communications. For example, the National Autistic Society’s Too Much Information film gave me an insight into autism that I don’t think would have been possible without the VR element. It’s a great example of using technology to improve story-telling, rather than using tech in a novelty way that feels clumsy.

Who's a woman to watch or someone you admire in 2018?

I think June Sarpong is doing brilliant work to promote the diversity and inclusion agenda. Also, all the women in the recently announced Women in Social Enterprise 100 are well worth watching (and SSE’s managing director Nicola Steuer is among them!).

Name the quote you live by

“Unless you catch ideas on the wing and nail them down, you will soon cease to have any.” – Virginia Woolf

Chat to Sophie on Twitter @sophiehobson

THE FEMALE FOCUS SERIES: LACEY HUNTER-FELTON

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Lacey Hunter-Felton, Founder of Hunter Collective

Hairdresser Lacey saw an opportunity to build a space for beauty and fashion people wanting to be independent and work flexibly. Hunter Collective is an incubator for the mums who still want to work and the next generation of tastemakers who want to forge their own path. We caught up with her on why the co-working salon studio and event space is filling a dying need for change.

If I can give women flexibility and independence through the business, I am doing what I set out to do. And even if it’s helping just me and one more woman, Hunter Collective is giving us another option.

Did you have a female role model or someone you admired as a kid?

Very much so. From a young age I was surrounded by strong female cheerleaders throughout the generations and into my adulthood. My mother, grandmother, friends, my hairdresser, Cheryl, who inspired me as a kid to become a hairdresser. I’ve taken different things from each of them and carried them with me. For me, it’s so important to have strong female influences and keep gathering them. And there’s a couple of my clients too, who are powerful, articulate and beautiful women who have been following my career and invested time in me. When I was mulling over the genesis of Hunter Collective, I realised that they were stepping up and motivating me to do it. And since the birth of the business they haven’t steppedback. For me it’s not a gender thing. The women in my life are strong influencers with my priorities at heart. I’ve expanded my network as an adult and have tried to bring others into it - to inspire back.

A pic of Lacey with her grandmother May Ivy Hunter. She takes the name from her and she symbolises the amazing women who have influenced Lacey’s upbringing.

A pic of Lacey with her grandmother May Ivy Hunter. She takes the name from her and she symbolises the amazing women who have influenced Lacey’s upbringing.

What led you to start Hunter Collective?

I needed to. I had to. Hunter Collective was born out of waking up and looking around, thinking ‘where do all the women in my industry go?’ It’s crazy but 70% of women drop out of the industry by the time they’re 34 years old. In hairdressing, the strongest influencers are men and they’re usually the owners of the salons, while women are the mentors. In my experience, women were having kids and not coming back. I was working in central London and the chance of having a long career in hair as a woman wasn’t sustainable. I kept in touch with my mentors, who went on to diversify their careers, which was great, but in reality they didn’t have a choice. Classic salon life did not accommodate them and their families.

I definitely learnt from these mentors before deciding to potentially have a baby myself. (Lacey had her baby Gene last year). I thought to myself, ‘if I become pregnant, I can’t wait for these barriers to move as I could be waiting forever.’ Instead, I built my dream of what I wanted for my career and as a mother. I quit my job, feeling very frustrated with the situation. I set about spending two years collecting and building what is Hunter Collective now. I am a creature of consistency and cosmic ordering so it was ultimately fear that put a rocket up my arse.

How do you think your early years have influenced what you're doing today?

My mother raised 3 children on her own. The stability my mum created in a tough situation is a cornerstone that I have replicated for myself. She supported me to become a hairdresser at the age of 16. We couldn’t afford for me to train at Vidal Sassoon London but she encouraged me to learn the skill and do it well. Hairdressing gets a bad rap outside the industry but not everybody can be a hairdresser.

I learnt a skill rather than studying a skill, one which I could use anywhere in the world. This gave me loads of confidence. I moved to London, which was the making of me. I wouldn’t have had the career opportunities, I wouldn’t have met my husband and friends, and built my aspirations of how I would raise my child. London’s vibrant diversity and beautifully complicated way was oxygen for me.

The Hunter Collective space

The Hunter Collective space

How do you keep learning more whilst building a business?

Listening. Simple as that - I listen all the time. I’ve made it my job to take every person I work with for coffee and get feedback. I’ve also learnt to say ‘I don’t know’. This was difficult at the beginning but it’s massively rewarding now. I work with interesting, dynamic characters every day and I always ask them to tell me what they’re doing. I have realised that asking for 5 minutes of their time to listen, people will share.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Where to start! My connections from Hunter Collective - our members, my son – are massively inspiring. Through the business, I meet people with diverse careers and backgrounds - that’s inspirational enough. These are the people who I wanted to build Hunter Collective for and help them build their own businesses. And Nico, my co-founder, is inspirational - he took on a major risk doing this. Ultimately, inspiration is people.

It was ultimately fear that put a rocket up my arse.

What do you think is missing from businesses in building true diversity?

Awareness. Businesses don’t understand bias. A lot of businesses remain unconscious. Many of us are guilty, including me. I was always conscious of culture and diversity but even I was complacent. Hunter Collective, alone, has proven to me how everyone has a responsibility to take diversity seriously and actively take part in building a diverse society around them. In some parts of our lives we’re just cruising to be happy and support ourselves. But some businesses need a reality check and structure within so that diversity becomes second nature and part of everyday life. We’re not there yet.

What brands are on your radar right now and why?

We’re always looking at brands to partner with and inspire us. They won’t interest me if they don’t back themselves up ethically and sustainably. At Hunter Collective, we build long term relationships with partners so it’s in our culture to work with businesses who celebrate ethnicity and address waste and pollution, which is a big issue in the industry. We’re trying to set an example so we can influence others and create a knock-on effect. We’re quietly encouraged that brands are being more responsible and future-proof.

What have been the essential factors that have enabled you to be an entrepreneur that you'd think you'd struggle without?

The knowledge that it takes a village. I didn’t know what the phrase meant until I needed a village. When s*** gets real you need people around you and a support network cheering you on. I thank my family and husband on a daily business as I couldn’t come to work if my family couldn’t look after my child and I couldn’t have done it without my husband financially supporting me. Their commitment is still high even a year after my son was born. This pushes me forward as I’m determined not to let them down.

The Hunter Collective meeting room

The Hunter Collective meeting room

What's your biggest learning so far since starting Hunter Collective?

I have learnt a lot from working with Nico. That everything we want do we’ve got to do ourselves. From the structure and framework of the business, to how it’s run. It’s endless and I’m still learning. I still have confidence wobbles but I know that as long as I keep going, it will get better. Being a hairdresser has given me a good basis for knowing how to treat every meeting with a high level of customer service. And then there’s the stamina. Fourteen hour days standing on my feet has taught me what a hard day’s work feels like.

How has work changed since having a child relatively recently?

It was the best thing that ever happened. I was treading water and not really sure about whether to set up Hunter Collective. In my mind I was an unemployed girl with an idea and I couldn’t do anything with it. When I got pregnant, my mindset changed. I needed to step up and look after my family and future. My son, Gene, was a ticking time bomb – and kicked me into getting some funding and a location. I met Nico when I was already 6 months pregnant and 12 days after the birth, together we signed the lease. By week 3 of Gene being born I was working full time and by week 7 Hunter Collective opened.

If I can give women flexibility and independence through the business, I am doing what I set out to do. And even if it’s just me and one more woman, Hunter Collective is giving us another option.

Who's a woman to watch or someone you admire in 2018?

Well, two that I need to name are my clients and they’ve been quiet pushers for me to grab life. Firstly, Nishma Robb, Marketing Director at Google, who is someone whose career I see getting bigger and bolder. And Emma Sexton has been a massive influence on me. I can only thank her and keep beating her drum. She is the ultimate badass. Emma was one of my first clients and she ignored the fact that I was on gardening leave when I left a former salon and took me for a drink. These are two women who I want to be even more publicly successful so that they can inspire lots more women.

Name the quote you live by

“You have as many hours in the day as Beyonce”, which is on the side of a mug my husband bought me. Otherwise, it has to be “It takes a village”, which I constantly cling to as my guiding prophecy. My husband, Liam, is the best man and he’s been in this 100% with me. I feel that men are often taken for granted these days because equality has shifted. Liam and I both co-parent our son. He’s never told me not to go to work so he can prioritise his work. He has not let me down when I’ve needed to push harder. But beyond my husband, the quote reminds me that I need everyone. It’s not just about having a husband and girls squad around me, it’s about everyone who has a genuine impact on my life. We’re all in it together.


Find out more about this incredible woman’s creation here and follow Hunter Collective on Instagram.

THE FEMALE FOCUS SERIES: NICOLA KEMP

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Nicola Kemp, Trends Editor at Campaign

Nicola has been leaving a trail of positive impact behind her in setting a new agenda for the magazine. She’s punching age old sexism and gender equality right in the face of the marketing industry. We find out what drives her to push diversity beyond the soundbite.

I struggle with some of the stories we haven’t been able to tell

You’ve been covering marketing trends for over a decade. What about the industry keeps your attention?

I’ve always been hugely interested in consumer trends and technology, but for me it would be the people that keep my attention.

As a journalist what do you love and struggle with the most?

I struggle with some of the stories we haven’t been able to tell. And like most parents of young children I struggle with constantly feeling like I am not in the right place at the right time. But I love the opportunity to push for progress when it comes to working cultures in the industry and the opportunity to support and celebrate people doing really brilliant work.

What story are you most proud of?

This piece was important to me in highlighting that motherhood should not create a full stop for women’s careers.

And what is the greatest change in the industry you want to see?

I would like to see more honesty, humility and openness in how the industry addresses its challenges. The culture of NDA’s and workplace bullying must end.

The industry has a big pressure to address equality right now. For example, the IPA just announced it will introduce a code of conduct in the wake of the 'Top Five' email. Do you think the industry is doing enough and what, in your opinion, should help to solve this?

I think the industry could absolutely do more to push the diversity agenda beyond the soundbite and there is certainly an ‘action gap’ amongst certain companies when it comes to driving the diversity and inclusion agenda forward. As a white woman I am also very aware of the importance of intersectionality to true progress.

Sometimes I think there is a desire to ‘draw a line’ under bad behaviour as ‘one bad apple’ without properly addressing the underlying culture which enables this kind of behaviour to thrive. Key to this is creating a culture in which employees feel that they can truly speak up and that they won’t be penalised for it - but we are not there yet.

WPP’s horrendous treatment of Erin Johnson is quite simply shameful. Yet all too often it is the women speaking up, the whistleblowers, that are penalised. As an industry, advertising has a business and moral imperative to change this.

I’m confident that this change is coming, largely through the commitment of brilliant people in the industry pushing for change and the hard word of organisations like NABS and initiatives such as TimeTo. As individuals we also have a responsibility to call out bad behaviour and celebrate those who speak up.

Do you think the media have a responsibility to uncover these stories?

Yes, it is an immense privilege to be a journalist and to have a platform to give others a voice.

Speaking at the Creative Equals conference

Speaking at the Creative Equals conference

You've been demonstrably spearheading the gender equality agenda for Campaign for some time. Have you seen a positive reaction from the male audience as much as the female one?

There was a particularly memorable email in which a (male) reader complained I was trying to turn Campaign into Spare Rib, I keep meaning to frame it and put it in my downstairs loo. But honestly I haven’t seen a big split by gender; there are lots of brilliant men in the industry pushing for change and I don’t think your gender is a barrier to pushing for equality, diversity and inclusivity. Likewise being a woman doesn’t give you a free pass for turning a blind eye to bad behaviour, or worse still appropriating the language of inclusivity and feminism while steadfastly maintaining the status quo.

What do you think has taken so long for us to get to a point where the subject of equality and diversity is gaining a much needed platform?

The fact is that a lot of people in the advertising industry, like many others, have benefited greatly from the status quo, so they have a vested interest in maintaining it. I also see it as part of a broader shift towards transparency in business; we have seen it with the gender pay gap and we are beginning to see the impact of Glassdoor and Fishbowl.

Yet the uncomfortable truth is the marketing director of an agency in which almost every single employee review makes reference to the ‘old boys club for friends’ has no qualms in selling in a story to Campaign about how they are pushing the equality agenda. In this way the idea of change is used as a proxy for tangible change.

There was a particularly memorable email in which a (male) reader complained I was trying to turn Campaign into Spare Rib. I keep meaning to frame it and put it in my downstairs loo.

The rise of #metoo and #timesup has created an important opening in discussion on gender equality but it has also put fear into young women of what they may expect to experience in the working world. What would you say to those wanting to pursue a career in advertising /marketing?

Now is the time to make a difference. There has never been a better time to be a young woman in advertising because it has never been such a business imperative to challenge stereotypes and change business cultures.

What are you reading at the moment?

Silicon States by Lucie Greene and Dogs Don’t Do Ballet by Anna Kemp

Who do you look up to in the industry?

There are too many people to name them all, but Amelia Torode, Helen Calcraft, Ali Hanan, Sulaiman Khan, Robyn Frost, Nat Turton, Dan Shute, Gemma Greaves, Ade Onilude and Jemima Bokaie are always at the top of my list. And of course Cindy Gallop; it is truly incredible what she does behind the scenes; the emails, the support, the encouragement that she gives to women in our industry that have gone through some truly horrific experiences. The industry owes her a huge debt of gratitude.

If you weren't doing this, you'd be....

Pottering around writing books, looking for all the odd socks that have inexplicably gone AWOL in our house and campaigning for flexible working.

Check out what Nicola’s up to at Campaign in pushing the equality agenda forward here and follow here on Twitter @nickykc.

THE FEMALE FOCUS SERIES: ELIZABETH BANANUKA

If you run a business and you understand the importance of diversity but aren’t doing anything about it, what’s the matter with you? To me it’s simple: you’re either the agency of the past or the future.

What drove you to create BME PR Pros?

I started thinking about the diversity issue in 2015 when I attended a panel event on global communications and international development. I was the only black person in an audience of more than 100 white comms professionals. It struck me that there was a real disconnect and underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in the industry. But more than that, a complete irony given the discussion focus – reporting stories from the global south. From there, my frustration snowballed. I went to events put on by the PR community purporting to challenge the diversity problem but I found many were disempowering, vacuous or both. Diversity always seemed to be attached to some kind of reward or CSR initiative. I realised that nothing is going to change through a trickle of quarterly meetings and – in my opinion – some pretty poor initiatives.

I felt I could do better and lift the game on how BMEs are viewed and I wanted to root for talented BME PR professionals. It still surprises me that in such a creative industry, diversity has not been tackled. I suspect a lot of agencies - big and small – don’t want to see change. Don’t get me wrong, I know incredible agencies doing great work where they just get it. But, to me, the Weber Shandwick’s, Golin’s Manifest London’s, M & C Saatchi PR’s, Ketchum’s, Dynamo’s, Cirkle’s et al are the exception and not the rule. I believe far too many don’t show a will for it. And there is such a low benchmark for what we consider to be effective diversity initiatives.

I believe if an agency had a dream client knocking on their door with golden budgets but the deal was pinned to creating a diverse team of people, that agency would find those BME candidates. It’s sad that money could be the rare incentive to change the status quo.

Here’s the thing; the business case for diversity has been pushed for years and years. If you run a business and you understand the importance of diversity but aren’t doing anything about it, what’s the matter with you? To me it’s simple: you’re either the agency of the past or the future.

What's the biggest lesson you've learnt from starting up BME PR Pros?

I’ve learnt the lesson of self-belief. The ability to do something entirely on your own. I’ve worked ridiculous hours, unfunded. I currently pay for every aspect of BME PR Pros including the website myself and with no-one next to me to make this initiative a reality. I’ve made no room for self-doubt, I’ve tried to believe that it’s going to be amazing. It’s not like an entrepreneur setting up a business is eager to fail or launch a mediocre business! I’ve had to force myself to believe I could do something good that would work. I couldn’t afford – financially, emotionally, mentally – to consider failure.

It’s been a very lonely business but I believe there is a whole load of talented BME PR Pros out there and I felt it was important to celebrate them and I felt compelled to do it. I still do. Being a consultant, I have much more freedom to make this work and I can talk uncensored and unfiltered. I am able to be authentic and vocal about BME issues. We work in a vanilla and muted sector, where some employers I’ve had would be very uncomfortable around the topic and wouldn’t have been happy to have me doing what I’m doing with BME PR Pros. I feel I have a responsibility not to censor myself for the good of other BME PRs striving to progress.

What's been the biggest milestone so far?

The happiest moment was on 4th December last year when the BME PR Pros / PRWeek Mentoring Scheme mentors got together for the first time for the PRWeek photoshoot to accompany a feature on the launch. Seeing these passionate, talented, generous, diverse individuals come together, who had taken a leap of blind faith to be part of the scheme and my little initiative, brought it to life for me.

It’s interesting that my biggest milestones around this come down to human interactions. Yes, it’s great the website has now had 100k hits in just over 7 months but to me, it’s the human stuff. It’s having a Skype chat with a BME going through a tough time and getting an email later to find out you’ve made a difference. Or hearing the impact our mentors are having on the careers of the mentees. Or the emails - I can get up to 100 a week- from BMEs saying how inspired they are by the mentors and mentees. Or genuine diversity champions that have heard me and got me, got what I’m trying to do and supported it. Shout out to Colin Byrne and Rachel Friend at Weber Shandwick who were there before I even had a website. That’s the stuff I care for. That’s the stuff that affects me and keeps me going.

The lack of diversity is well-documented in the PR industry. What do you think is the biggest barrier to people of colour getting in and what should businesses be doing to tackle this?

Too many recruitment practices are flawed and old fashioned and too many recruiters don’t get it. It’s a weird sector - we perpetuate the myth of how we see talent and what colour we’ve decided talent must come in. The PR industry wants candidates to assimilate to the cookie cutter profiles made in the past and there is no BME-shaped cutter to use. Too many recruitment processes are subjective. Take the NHS, it’s interesting that when it comes to medical staff and the skills needed being black and white (pun intended) then the staff are very diverse. Then you step into a comms team within the NHS and other healthcare organisations and the comms teams are very white. That is weird to me. How can we have so many agencies and organisations with massive comms teams in a city as diverse as London and yet the sector is 91% white? I think that’s weird and I think anyone that doesn’t think that’s weird, is weird.

Why can a Nigerian guy be a doctor in the NHS but not a Director of Communications? Or a girl with a hijab a dentist but not a Head of News? It’s really simple: if BMEs don’t apply for your jobs then you need to rethink your recruitment practices. If you have a BME retention problem, you need to look at your working culture. I’m not willing to accept that talent is not there. This is not a BME problem but a sector problem.

I am very aware that many of my white counterparts will have access to more opportunities than my BME counterparts. There is also a BME pay gap – not just in PR but across sectors – and it is much larger than the gender pay gap. And it’s not easy being a lone BME in a large organisation.

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The rise of #metoo and #timesup has created an important opening in discussion on gender equality but it has also put fear into young women of what they may expect to experience in the working world. What would you say to those wanting to pursue a career in PR?

Prejudice and discrimination shouldn’t impact your dreams. I always say to BMEs just starting out that they deserve to have the same dreams and aspirations as a straight, middle class, home counties white guy from Oxbridge. Yep, maybe they’ll face more obstacles and their starting line may be further back, but they too are entitled to have the biggest dreams and aspirations.


It feels like female solidarity is slowly starting to crest a wave. Do you think women are feeling more confident to stand up and be heard right now?

I do. We have a lot to thank Twitter for. It’s been a powerful campaigning tool for minorities, women, LGBTQ and many others. And not to mention some vocal individuals (a shout-out to Reni Eddo-Lodge, Afua Hirsch and Laura Bates). Our sector needed it. Women have been on the receiving end of atrocious harassment by some agency staff, journalists and clients – I can tell you some horror stories. I also think a lot of agencies need to be much more responsible for guiding young people. And of course, there’s a strong drinking culture and an expectation on young staff to ‘look after’ clients at client parties and award ceremonies. Young people are vulnerable to the pressures to perform both professionally and socially and I think the sector needs to be kinder to them.


You hold down a day job on top of building BME PR Pros. If this side-project turned into something greater, would you be eager to give up the day job?

I wouldn’t give up my freelance life altogether, but I’d love to get to a sustainable position where I could be working on BME PR Pros in working hours, rather than my evenings and weekends. I don’t want to exploit the format though, this initiative is non-profit making and is driven by a mission to support BMEs in the sector. To me, it’s about ensuring our talented BME mentees get the careers they deserve and the sector gets to benefit from their talent. I want it to be pure. I’ve been overwhelmed by the desire of people to help. Over 130 people have offered to be volunteers just this year and I’ve struggled with the demand. I’m not keen on exploiting BMEs and wouldn’t want anyone to work free.

I need to find a balance. I didn’t get into this to fall into volunteer management but I don’t want to close the door on goodwill and support. I came up with this sitting alone in my flat. Naïve – perhaps – but I just saw myself working with clients and then in my free time organising events, developing initiatives and uploading web content. I started working alone in January 2017 because for years, when I tried to work with others, they either weren’t interested, couldn’t or didn’t want to give the time or they just didn’t get it. So, I worked on it solo and I got used to that. It never occurred to me others would want to get involved and I didn’t plan for it.

Working solo is exhausting but working by committee can be too slow a process for someone like me. I feel a sense of urgency around this and don’t want to waste valuable time on bureaucracy, meetings and minutes.

I also don’t want to create a new diversity echo chamber where the BME issue is dominated by me. My ideal is that others are inspired to create their own initiatives and in 18 months BME PR Pros won’t have to exist and I can finally sleep.

I have a responsibility not to censor myself for the good of other BME PRs striving to progress

What's the one thing that's shocked you in your mission to raise the profile of diversity?

Well, to be honest, it’s the number of people who want to get involved for their own profile or the profile of their business. I’m not for sale. I’ve been careful who I work with and interact with because my integrity is important to me. My primary audience are BME PR Pros. I can’t and won’t sell them out for an agency with an appalling diversity track record wanting to throw money at me. Every diversity champion I shout out has – to me – passed the BME PR Pros unspoken code. They’re beyond the tedious, boring, kill me now “why is diversity important” nonsense. They get it, are doing something and want to do more.

For all the wonderful stuff that has come out of this, I also see and hear some pretty awful stuff. It’s a constant reminder that diversity is far from fixed. PR is still very old-fashioned and for me, there’s a confidence issue. There are far too many people scared to voice an opinion away from the norm and too weak or indifferent to create change.

I don’t think diversity is challenging but I do think lack of opportunity, the gender pay gap, the BME pay gap, inequality, prejudice and lack of opportunity are. If you live in a diverse city like London but find diversity in the workplace challenging, well I think you need to ask yourself some tough questions.


Where do you get your inspiration?

I’ve got lots of good people around me to inspire me every day. My parents are amazing and both very different – a perfect combination of ying and yang. We came over here as immigrants and my mum has worked very hard to put me in a place with loads more opportunities than she had herself at my age. My family is a bit of an oddity as we’ve never really fitted in. Unlike other relatives who are Rwandan, Tanzanian or Ugandan, we are a mix. And unlike other relatives we are the only ones here. I’m aware how freeing it can be to not fit in but also how divisions can lead to such horror. My Dad lost family to Idi Amin (there’s a road in Uganda called ‘Bananuka Drive’ as a tribute to my paternal grandfather) and my Mum lost relatives in the Rwandan genocide. I guess this motley background has shaped my thinking and the fighting spirit of family members inspires me.

My friend Nyree Connell is another person. She always rooted for and respected me professionally and she got BME PR Pros immediately. And Daljit Bhurji has been incredibly generous with his advice - I would have lasted but a day in PR without his unflinching encouragement.

I’m also inspired by grassroots diversity initiatives. I love the work of Women in PR and Ethan Spibey’s work on InterComms. I love what Krish Jeyakumar and Rowan Ellis are doing with Ruckus Retreat and Mercedes Benson with Social Fixt.

And of course, there’s all the positive feedback about the initiative, which keeps me going and inspires me.

Finally a quote which hangs on my wall, “If I knew that the world would end tomorrow, I would still plant new apple trees today”. There are different versions of it and some are attributed to Martin Luther and others to Martin Luther King Junior but this is my favourite version.

What's in store for the cause this year?

The plan is a whole load of new content for the website, a really big initiative which scares me but I need to keep telling myself “you can and will do it and it will be amazing”. And a series of panel events like we did last year. We’ve also got a high scale conference scheduled for spring next year which I am very excited about but I would be ruining the surprise to tell you more about it now!


Find out what the BME PR Pros are up to next by catching up with them on Instagram & Twitter!