Entrepreneurs are the Change

When I was asked to be one of the speakers/contributors to the Managing Culture: Diversity and Equality panel at the Leaders First finale to Entrepreneurs 2012 on 16 November, I was asked to compose answers to a few interview questions.

Other notable keynotes included the 42nd President of the USA Bill Clinton, Dragon’s Den entrepreneur Levi Roots and Comedienne Ruby Wax. The event was held at London ExCeL in the Docklands. The after-conference dinner held at the Intercontinental hotel in Mayfair.

Levi Roots (Dragons’ Den entrepreneur) pictured with Lena Benjamin at the after-conference dinner held at the Intercontinental hotel in Mayfair London UK on 16th November 2012. Useful links to empower opportunities: Work with Lena BenjaminOne Hour Group Virtual BrainstormIncome Generating & Uncover RevenuesMovies & TV shows

Here is a synopsis of my response…

What’s the best advice you could give to a young entrepreneur?

How can my entrepreneurial pursuit best serve the customer and the wider community but at the same time enable me to grow both personally and professionally? So not – what about me but how can I best serve others. Iyanla Vanzant said ‘Your passion is your purpose’ and I completely agree – whatever you are passionate about; that ‘thing’ that you would do for free is what will serve you and others (Oprah Winfrey has said that!). Many true leaders will always focus on their passion for helping others. They are the ‘Leaders’ who will be known ‘First’ and forever known throughout time – that is their legacy (I’d like it to be mine and to ensure others achieve the same!).

What are the major impediments to British business today?

There is so much talent out there and I don’t think British businesses know where to look. The traditional sense of talent doesn’t necessarily derive from graduates of top universities and business schools. There needs to be outside of the box thinking in British businesses or as someone once put it to me “does the box even exist”

Those companies that are less than entrepreneurial, whether they are British or not, and have a superiority complex – as if governance; adhering to company values or having some kind of integrity should somehow not apply – will be a thing of the past because they simply will not be able to operate in the new paradigm – not when it is so easy to find out information and spread the word (and not when it is now deemed unacceptable by the general public –the bargaining power has finally shifted!)

Should there be more women in management? Why? 

The most entrepreneurial companies that lead at all levels are the ones that have foresight. Governments and businesses alike have people around them that can identify what is likely to happen in the future. They will do the necessary scenario planning to become as innovative as possible to service the needs of the customer and the wider community. Those same organisations have already looked at a scenario that shows what the future would look like without women being able to make a positive contribution – socially, environmentally and economically (this is in the developed and developing world). I can tell you that the world would be a stark place – an unequal world – a homogeneous one.

Was your MBA worthwhile? What has it brought to your management technique?

The MBA was worthwhile yes – I learnt a lot about human behaviour and managing people (still a long way to go – it’s part of the never-ending story!). The MBA developed my strategic capabilities, it taught me about being patient (which I am still working on). The MBA strengthened my character (my resilience). Doing the MBA has been one of my divine interventions despite the sometimes gruelling journey I needed to take. However, I do not think people need to do an MBA to develop their business acumen and management technique. For some, it is like a badge of honour but it can create a false sense of security!

Are there people who have inspired you? How? Why?

People who have humanity and humility inspire me – there is leadership longevity in humanity and humility. Those women and men who have paved the way for others – for the next generation, I have the utmost respect and admiration. People like my grandparents, particularly my Grandmas – Dutchie Grant-Williams and Veronica Benjamin. They were the ones who sacrificed and had the determination to achieve their goals despite inequality.

Those unsung heroes inspire me to those who enable others through their unique talents that make this world a better place.

Are there any emerging business sectors or applications that particularly interest you? 

I thought and still think that the robotic ‘business sector’ is an emerging one – if you look at it there are more and more machines taking over from what humans currently do and this will only increase. This is having a profound impact on the economy and how people work – certain jobs are and will become obsolete and more and more people will need to reinvent themselves (a job for life is no more as it was in the baby boomer generation!). I think there are many positives to the robotic business sector but also of the need for people to be entrepreneurial when jobs come under threat when robots take over doing the jobs once made for humans…The fact is globalisation is upon us and if you want to be entrepreneurial perhaps looking at opportunities that can be utilised online or by machines (not to say that face-to-face should be obsolete that would be completely unacceptable as far as I’m concerned, but online and the utilisation of machines has the thumbs up for tackling climate change!)

Speaking at UCL – Women in Management Society Launch
Spoken For
UCL Feedback
Lena is clearly passionate about improving overall business dynamics. Her talk inspired the students and the leadership team.
Workshop facilitated
Spoken For
Lena Benjamin – Entrepreneurs 2012
Entrepreneurs 2012
Panel Speaker At
I received glowing feedback from our senior personnel. I hope to work with Lena again on a speaking engagement or consultancy service.
Lena Benjamin at Inspiring Women in the 21st Century 2013 at the House of Lords
Chief Executive Officer Feedback
Lena provided an engaging talk on how to enable a customer-focused business
Book Speaking Engagement
Workshop Event Faciltation
Escape the City
Spoken For
City Business Library
Spoken For
Lena Benjamin speech
CMI Feedback
Lena helpfully contributed to my book, Financial Times Guide to Management
Book Speaking Engagement
Pictured with Dragons Den Entrepreneur Levi Roots at After “Leaders First” Conference Dinner in Mayfair London
Association of MBAs
Spoken For
The speaking session was inspiring, engaging and empowering
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