Lisa Maynard-Atem is the Director of Marketing & Inclusion at the award-winning Acacia Training. Lisa is also a founder member and former Managing Director of the award-winning Black United Representation Network (BURN CIC), an organisation focused on the economic and social empowerment of the Black community in the North of England.
Alongside her role at Acacia, Lisa remains on the Board of Directors for BURN, is a Non-Executive Director on the Board of MBH Plc and is also a member of the General Assembly of the University of Manchester. Her work is focused around her passion for equality and creating a society with systems and structures that work for all.
My name is Lisa Maynard-Atem and currently, I am the Marketing & Inclusion Director for the award-winning training provider Acacia Training. Alongside this, I sit on the Board of MBH Corporation Plc as a Non-Executive Director – a diversified investment holding company. Previous to this, I was the Managing Director of The Black United Representation Network (BURN), and organisation that is focused on the economic and social empowerment of the Black community in the north of England (I remain on the BURN Board of Directors). Before all of this, I worked for Harrods for 7.5 years heading up their social media department, growing their following to over 2.5M.
I would not say that I have ever had a definitive plan but I have always been ambitious and knew from a very early age that senior leadership was where I wanted to be as the top is the best place to be in order to bring about meaningful change. My childhood was spent in various countries around the world, seeing the inequalities of every day life for people (lack of clean water, basic medical healthcare, food shortages, etc…). I decided that I wanted to make a difference and understood that position, power and influence would need to play their respective roles if I was going to be successful when it came to having an impact.
I have faced many challenges along the way. Being a Black woman has meant that I have had to work much harder than some of my counterparts and even then, I have been denied opportunities. However, I have never let this stop me as I am a firm believer that at the heart of any difficult situation, lies opportunity.
My biggest achievement to date is definitely transitioning to the position that I now find myself in as I am now able to do what I have always wanted to do – use my skills to have a positive impact not just on my own life but the lives of others. True leadership lies in service to others.
Self belief. You have to believe in yourself and know that you are capable of being successful, especially when others doubt you. Always bet on yourself even in your moments of doubt. When I was offered the role at Harrods, there were people who doubted that I would be able to do it. In those moments, I doubled down on my self belief. Although the path was not entirely clear (not that it ever is), I knew I would find my way and achieve success which is exactly what I did. You are your best asset – never forget that.
I feel that mentoring is extremely important especially as a woman of colour. A big part of the reason why I continuously work on raising my profile is that I want others to see me and see themselves in terms of what is possible. You cannot be what you cannot see. Furthermore, when you get to the top, you should send the lift back down for others and ensure that you support and open doors so that others can gain a seat at the table. I have a number of mentees and I give as much time as I can to helping others. I have received incredible support throughout my career (and still do) so it is important that I pay that forward.
I would ensure that every single girl and woman has access to education and other means that will help to improve their lives and as a direct consequence be able to contribute positively to wider society. I would also challenge anyone existing in spaces where there is a gender imbalance. I feel that too many people in the world are still too uncomfortable with being uncomfortable. In order for real progress to happen, this needs to change. Disruption and discomfort must be endured in order for parity to prevail.
Lean into not only your strengths but your fears. Far too often in life, we shy away from challenge and difficulty. In my experience, I have found that leaning into my own fears and facing them head on has led to success and greater learning. I am better person for finding the courage to face what scares me most.
My next challenge is the same challenge that I have always set myself. What are the things that I need to do in order to bring about meaningful change for myself and for others?