Founder Alldens Lane
I’ve have had a rich and diverse international career to date, starting out two decades ago in the UK working as an international development practitioner and a management consultant with an international consulting organisation. My career geographic focus has always been Africa, and I have worked in nearly 20 countries across the continent. I love the emerging and embryonic character of the continent – there are so many opportunities and possibilities to unearth, and this has always made the continent very stimulating and inspiring for me to work in professionally.
I moved to Ghana from the UK a decade ago, and now work with a leading global professional services firm as a management consultant, focusing on business advisory services in the area of strategy and operations. It’s been an energizing and rewarding experience to date.
I turned 40 a few years ago, and began to reflect on a number of issues – one of which was my career and how I could give back to society and the continent at large through my career and life-time professional experiences. One of the areas that I have given back commonly has been in the area of mentoring and coaching – mentoring and coaching female entrepreneurs in the SME/small and growing business sector. When I turned 40, I thought I would formalise this through a movement I have termed Alldens Lane.
Alldens Lane is an ode and tribute my late father, who in his lifetime was a very successful entrepreneur and industrialist. He was born to very underprivileged parents but with a vision, hard work and a lot of perseverance built industries across the country of his birth, employing thousands in the process. One of the homes that he had in the UK was on a private lane in a lovely village in Surrey called Alldens Lane. So Alldens Lane to me speaks to the power of vision, the power of aspiration, and the art of the possible in entrepreneurship. As Walt Disney said, if you can dream it, you can do it.
Through Alldens Lane, I provide business coaching and mentoring to women entrepreneurs. Women are critical catalysts for meaningful change on the African continent – they form an essential part of the Africa growth and AfricaRising story. The purpose of Alldens Lane is, through an iterative coaching process, to provide female entrepreneurs with business direction, balanced support and thought provoking business performance and growth analytics, from which they can grow and transform their businesses – and their lives.
Alldens Lane mentors and coaches female entrepreneurs in the SME sector to achieve their business goals through:
1. Providing professional, bespoke business coaching service;
2. Convening events which bring together like-minded female entrepreneurs to network, learn lessons, and acquire valuable business insights on how to better manage and take their business to the next level. The events schedule comprises:
- Executive Talk: Female CEOs Share – a quarterly group coaching event on a topical business management issue, including a panel discussion facilitated by leading female CEOs and entrepreneurs
- Executive Wellness – an annual residential retreat to nurture the mind, body and emotions of our network of female executives and entrepreneurs. Executive Wellness convenes and connects female entrepreneurs with professional service providers such as health and fitness practitioners, nutrition and weight loss professionals, life coaches, finance doctors, HR professionals
3. Curator services on Women in Business in Scoop.it! and Twitter, providing a free online facility where female entrepreneurs can access articles on business management, and read through interviews with successful female entrepreneurs.
I currently mentor and coach in my spare time, after hours on weekdays and during weekends. It’s exhausting but I could not think of a better way to spend my time.
To be honest, I don’t think I would do anything different in my career. I must admit though, that over the past two decades there have been times when I have thought that I may have done things better. Today I know that not to be true. I am thoroughly enjoying my career path and find tremendous fulfilment in what I am doing.
Coming into corporate Africa with a mindset of corporate UK meant I needed to make some adjustments. Things work totally differently here. The mindset and expectations are completely different – particularly for women – and yet I came in with all the bullishness, exuberance and confidence that I would meet an equal or equivalent environment when I relocated here 10 years ago. I might have adapted my mindset earlier.
I want to offer the world my best. My mind works in a curious, lateral way. I have a diversity of interests, knowledge and experience – and often make multi-disciplinary connections in ways that others may not see or perceive connections. This curiosity, the curiosity to see if and how things can be done better – strategically and operationally – inspires me every day. Particularly for Alldens Lane, I really want to support women to offer the world their best and to bring out the giftings from the inside of them through their businesses and passions.
For young women setting up their own companies or working as an employee my advice is very simple. Offer the world your best. Have a dream, a goal, a purpose, document the vision, run with it and get professional help in actualising it. Modify your route to that goal if you have to but lead a purpose-driven life. There will be obstacles along the way but these are not there to stop you – rather they are there to ‘pause’ you – pause you to think, re-strategise and to prepare for the next phase of your trajectory.
How different is it being a working woman in Africa?
Generally, apart from the urban enclaves, society has more limited expectations of women. Yes, women are actively engaged in the economic sectors, but the vast majority of women are expected to predominantly play a lesser, subordinate role. What does it mean for the working career or business woman? You often have to work harder and smarter, demonstrating meticulous diligence and duty of care in your work/business and interactions, whilst respecting the inherent culture of deference and gender socialisation of society which has seeped into corporations and the business sector. It’s a Herculean exercise and navigating the process is not easy.
I would like to leave a lasting legacy which sees Alldens Lane as a catalyst in encouraging and supporting African’s female entrepreneurs in the SME sector to realise their business aspirations.
Thank you for reading my adventures and to end one of my favourite quotes “Offer the world your best”