Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your current role
I am the founder of Be the Boss International, a business growth strategist, coach, consultant, TEDx Speaker and charity trustee. My journey into entrepreneurship started early on. At school, I was always trying to hustle and make money, primarily because I came from what would typically be described as a deprived background. Therefore, I would braid hair, wash cars, babysit, etc., to make extra money. My hustler spirit continued when I went to university. I started the African Caribbean Society at my University and began putting on events. Unlike some of the other society presidents, I attempted to commercialise the society quickly, targeting big businesses for sponsorship. I learnt many leadership and entrepreneurial skills during that time. After leaving University I had several jobs but realised early on that working wasn’t for me. I had always known that I would want to do my own thing, but my experiences of work accelerated my journey. I started my first business within a year of completing University. I initially started the business with three university friends, but within another year, it was just me leading the business. The business was a social enterprise specialising in event management and youth training. We grew to six figures very quickly, had a team of staff, began winning awards, were featured in the press and were basically living the dream. However, things didn’t pan out the way I anticipated and within a few years, the business went into decline. I was forced to sell it in 2015 shortly after the birth of my daughter. I then spent the next few years doing my MBA and researching the critical success factors for sustainable business growth, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. During this time, I came up with the VISSA growth framework (Vision, Innovation, Strategy, Systems, Accountability). I began testing the framework with SMEs as a contracted Senior innovation and growth advisor for Coventry University. I then started my new business, Be the Boss, officially in 2020. Be the Boss equips ambitious entrepreneurs with the tools, knowledge, and support to build, grow & scale profitable, sustainable, systems-driven businesses. We provide a range of packages, programmes, and products to support ambitious entrepreneurs and business owners using the VISSA framework. My role now comprises delivering coaching and consultancy support to clients, providing the strategic direction for the business, identifying, and securing partnerships, coordinating events and producing content. We are currently in the process of launching our digital learning platform which will include our first self-paced e-learning programme – The VISSA business growth programme.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
I have always been quite intentional with planning my career and next steps. I have always had a strong vision for my life and a career in entrepreneurship has always been at the forefront of this vision. Whilst I didn’t know that this would be the specific business I would be running, I have always known I would run a business which operates internationally.
Vision:20 is a 3-year vision framework which I developed several years ago and use with my clients to help them plan their visions. When I started this business, I completed Vision:20 for myself to outline exactly what I wanted to do (and not do) in the business. I revisit my Vision 20 every January and update it to represent any additional wants or changes.
Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?
One of my biggest challenges occurred in 2015 when I was forced to sell my business. The business had been in a sustained period of decline, and I literally didn’t know what to do. My whole life and identity were wrapped up in being the Founder of the business. I was also a new mother, so was struggling to find my identity. It was a rough time. That’s when I coined the motto “Think Big, Take Action, Keep Pushing”. That was literally what I had to do to get myself out of the hole I was in. I got a new vision, began to take consistent action and continued to keep pushing. I had a great support system who encouraged me to get back on the horse.
What has been your biggest career achievement to date?
I have several clients whom I have worked with who have hit 7 figures in their businesses. This has been incredibly amazing to watch and to be involved in. I am proud of the fact that I have been able to support them, encourage them, provide them with ideas, help them to overcome challenges and guide them on their respective journeys. I am proud of myself for my contributions. I also thoroughly enjoyed giving my first TEDx talk in 2022.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
My motto: Think Big, Take Action, Keep Pushing. Literally, doing those things consistently has helped me achieve so much. I have embodied it, lived it and breathed it. It has helped me overcome major obstacles, chase big audacious goals, have clarity on my vision, and remain consistent and unwavering in my pursuit of success.
What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?
Get clarity on the vision! Identify exactly what you want to achieve within the industry and by when. Reverse engineer the steps you need to take to get there. So let’s say in 4 years you want to have a specific role. What do you need to do between now and then? Consider training, getting a mentor, joining a programme, and raising your personal profile. Set specific goals around those things and break the goals down into actionable tasks.
What barriers for women working in tech, are still to be overcome?
Gender bias. Tech is seen as a traditionally male-dominated industry and therefore it can be difficult for women to be recognised for the value they add. This can include being overlooked for roles, not getting recognition for their hard work or being discriminated against within the workplace. For women with caregiving responsibilities, the demands of tech roles and sometimes lack of work-life balance can be challenging. Due to disparities, there is a lack of representation of women in senior positions, which means women going into the tech space don’t always have relatable role models. It can also be quite isolating working in male-dominated environments.
What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?
Increase hiring diversity. The more women are hired, the less isolating it will be for women entering those spaces. Address discrimination, harassment and bias swiftly and properly. Don’t sweep things under the carpet and really take a stance of creating an inclusive environment for all. This goes a long way towards helping to change attitudes and internal cultures. Provide mentoring and coaching opportunities for women, to support them on their career journeys.
In an ideal world, how would you improve gender diversity in tech?
Invest much more in organisations like Niyo and Coding Black Females who are currently working tirelessly to get more black women into tech for example. There are many companies like this that should be celebrated and praised for helping to change the landscape and make tech more inclusive for women and women of colour. Starting early is also important. Girls in school should be encouraged to learn about and embark on careers in tech and role models should be highlighted so they can see tech as a viable option for them. If more women go into the space, change will begin to occur. I know that quotas can lead to pushback internally and people assuming that individuals are given a role due to a tick box as opposed to because they are worthy of the role, however, I think there is value in ensuring that organisations have to fulfil a quota as it pertains to the diversity of those they both interview and they hire.
What resources do you recommend for women working in tech, e.g. podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc?
To read about more inspirational women, click here.