Dr Anino Emuwa, international management consultant with over twenty-five years’ professional experience in Europe and Africa and former corporate banker with Citibank tells us what prompted her to start Avandis Consulting.
What do you currently?
I am an international management consultant and founder Avandis Consulting in France which provides strategy and financial advisory services to entrepreneurs and business leaders. I convene global and regional communities of women in business leadership and I am an international public speaker on entrepreneurship, fintech and diversity.
I also mentor and coach female entrepreneurs for Cartier Women’s Initiative’s and University of Cambridge Judge Business school’s EnterpriseWomen programme and sit on the boards of several companies.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
I started out my career in corporate banking and booking loans for large corporates. However, I found that smaller businesses found it difficult to access bank loans and this constrained their growth. After taking courses on entrepreneurship during my MBA, I became an independent consultant to SMEs, running management seminars and advising them how to manage their finances and structure loans requests.
I found this financing gap for smaller businesses in several countries in Africa where I had lived with my family, and decided to undertake my doctoral research on entrepreneurial financing to shed light on the specificities of the issues and find specific solutions to this problem.
My work with entrepreneurs and founders also evolved into working with corporate leaders on strategy. From there we started to build communities of female entrepreneurs and CEO’s working to promote gender balance in leadership
Who do you admire?
Many women! Particularly for their work with women and girls and working in development and philanthropy: Michelle Obama, Melinda Gates, Winnie Bwanyima Head of UNAIDS, Phumzile Mlambo-Nguka, Head of UN Women Graca Michel. Entrepreneurs like Sara Blakely who are not only highly successful but who are providing grants to women entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 crisis I admire as well as Kathleen Griffith, founder and CEO of Grayce and Go, and her “Build in Like A Woman” to support women entrepreneurs and Shelly Zalis, founder of The Female Quotient.
In the corporate world, Christine Lagarde former head of IMF and now head of the ECB who has worked to bringing women to the table, Gini Rometty former IBM CEO one of the few top women leaders in technology.
From my country of birth, Nigeria, many women including Chief Mrs Akande, a two time minister and also successful business woman who at the age of 70 is still very active, and Betty Irabor an icon media and publishing, founder of Genevieve Magazine- a pioneering lifestyle magazine for women- and a champion for mental health.
But most of all my mother, a lawyer, who was called to the bar at Middle Temple in the UK over 60 years ago – there were very few women at the time -, and she was the first female lawyer from the Mid-western region in Nigeria where she was from. In addition to her work as a corporate lawyer and partner at a law firm, she promoted legal rights for young women and girls, and was the first woman from Nigeria to be a director of two publicly listed companies. She was also the first Nigerian woman from the country to be elected a fellow of the Institute of Directors in London over 30 years ago.
Looking Back is there anything you would have done differently?
I think when I was in the corporate world and especially as a manager, I would have encouraged the building of professional networks of women to support them in their careers.
What defines your way of doing business?
I think offering high quality service to our clients that helps them to transform their businesses and to is the simplest way to define how I do business.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
There is enormous uncertainty about how the world will emerge as a result of the pandemic. Our ways of working will change and values are also changing. We are in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution where technology is transforming our lives.
This structural change means that we have to be adaptable, flexible, and acquire and upgrade our skills through our working life. Whilst many sectors are shedding jobs at this time, digital transformation is accelerating and the underlying trend of innovation will continue with short supply in many areas of technology.
As AI and automation take over routine tasks, it means developing competencies to work in a technologically enable world –with digital skills as a minimum – but also the qualities that make us uniquely human will be more in demand such as creativity, empathy, and Emotional Intelligence will be highly desirable. Depending on industry, people will have to prepare to some level of working from home for some time to come.