Working cross sector within the private, public and third sectors, Conning Towers is focused on delivering programmes and reviews that enable employee engagement; inclusion; value and talent management whilst simultaneous improving organisation profitability and efficiency.
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6 Jun 2013
Tell us a little about what you do in addition to your work at Conning Towers.
I have also recently founded Engaged For Success CIC, a Social Enterprise set-up to work on encouraging the recognition of human value and purpose at an individual level, within local Communities, wider society and the global community through education, business and community engagement.
As an additional expression of what I believe in, I have written and published two books – Consequences: Diverse to Mosaic Britain and Touching The Heart of Milton Keynes: A Social Perspective.
What was the catalyst that made you decide to go into business?
It was more of a journey than an outright decision. My interest and belief in people led me into Human Resources.
The project nature of the work that I do means that I’m best positioned to go into an organisation, do what needs to be done and to then move on to the next project.
My interest in community led me to set up the Community Interest Company so that I can be more effective.
My writing is a natural expression of things that I see as important.
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What was holding you back from being an entrepreneur at the time?
Fortunately, I didn’t allow things to hold me back as I felt naturally driven to do things that are central to who I am and what I believe in. I could have otherwise been held back by fear – nothing more.
What was the best business advice you were given?
I am my biggest critic and I often question myself when I come up with new projects and ideas.
When I finished the draft for my first book, I happened to have a conversation with one of the ladies that I had interviewed for the book.
I told her, I had finished, but I wasn’t sure if it was good enough. Her response was simply – Just do it, put yourself out there. You’ll never know unless you do.
What is the most exciting thing happening in your sector right now?
There is a big focus on employee engagement within the Human Resources community at this point in time.
At a certain level you could argue that the importance of people within business and beyond is something that is obvious that everyone should naturally be doing anyway. The reality, however, is that this is not the case.
The most exciting part of this to me is how engaging people relates directly to the value that they bring.
I therefore see the employee engagement movement as an opportunity to create an awareness of this and to work with organisation to optimise the value that the people bring in order to enhance engagement.
What are your customers demanding more from you at the moment?
In line with what I’ve just mentioned above in a time of limited resources, organisations are looking to understand how they can make the most of the people that they have and most cost effectively employ the additional people that they need.
I additionally find people constantly asking for my perspective on social issues within society as this very much aligns to what I write about.
What social media tool are you using at the moment?
LinkedIn and Twitter.
LinkedIn for my business profile, reaching people and connecting.
Twitter is where I talk more about what I’m doing, who I am and what I’m thinking i.e. the person behind everything that I do as whilst people have never questioned my professional capability, they do often want to know more about me as a person
What is your take on personal business failures?
They are part of the journey you can’t totally avoid them – most especially if you want to be an innovator or a forerunner.
Accept them, learn from them, but try not to repeat them.
What is difference that is making the difference?
It’s all about having a real impact and really making a lasting difference.
It’s great to be paid and paid well for doing so. Even better is the simple acknowledgement and appreciate from a simple thank you to something even more significant.
For instance I was recently honoured with an award as Author of the Year by Women4Africa.
What book would you recommend for entrepreneurs?
I’d have like to have said one of mine, but … I’m going for Jim Collins, Good to Great.
What is your favourite quote?
I have several. I will, however, go with one that I came across recently.
“Don’t aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally” — David Frost
To some extent this comes naturally to me as what I do is very much about what I believe in and what I am passionate about.
It is, however, easy to be extract by the things around that may not seem to be working or what other people are doing.
The key is that I am therefore learning to focus more and more and work with a support team of advisers and friends who encourage me when I need to encouraged and challenge me when I need a bit of challenge.
What next for your business?
Conning Towers has developed a Diversity programme called The Mosaic Workforce which focuses on shared values that I’m currently looking to pilot.
For Engaged for Success, I’m working with a local college on a youth portal for young people aimed at enabling them to better understand who they are and the value that they have to offer.
Finally, I’ve started the work on my next book which in very simple terms looks at the combination of both the skills that we have and need for 21st century Britain.