New IFS stats show there's still an 18% pay gap between men & women

Women earn 18% less than men on average, according to new research. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) also found that the gap balloons after women have children, raising the prospect that mothers are missing out on pay rises and promotions. That is echoed by a separate report on Tuesday suggesting that male managers are 40% more likely than female managers to be promoted.

I think we need to stop putting women’s pathway in a box and say ‘well it would be the same for men’ – it’s simply not! The stats show that. Whether it’s men or women, if they become a parent with responsibility for child care and are stepping back from a career but they wish to continue working and prospering, then it’s important that companies value the skill and experience and where possible (and some need to make effort to make it possible, if not currently) for them to work flexible hours and be eligible for the same salary rises as those working full-time. Becoming a mother gives you fresh ambition and if valued and invested in, it can provide much asset for companies. Instead it’s wasted.
Yes we are improving and we should celebrate the lower rate – however, for the current focus there is on innovative thinking, working and female empowerment, it’s actually disappointing. InspirEngage International, a social enterprise I run, delivers a programme called ‘Startup & Stilettos- The Future is Female’ (see a snapshot video here)  and in this, we train women who have lost their confidence to launch their own social enterprises and become economically independent. It has shown us that business sometimes is the only place women can create their own rules and those women should be applauded. However, a vast majority of women who work in companies who still operate with a marked gender pay gap, are affected. I support Government’s plans to publish the bigger companies’ pay gap, but the change will continue to happen slowly unless we are willing restructure the labour market to allow skilled and ambitious women (particularly mothers) to thrive.

However, the problem isn’t solely for companies and Government to solve. Another important factor in addressing the gender pay gap is women being afraid to challenge their employers in asking the tough questions & wanting to be paid their worth. Research shows that women’s ambition dips whereas men’s grows- is that due to the system of being undervalued or is it us?

We need to work on the women as well as challenging the employers. This is what we do at InspirEngage with our programmes aimed at women and the speaking tours I undertake- once you understand your worth, your skills and what you are working for, you’re more likely to be able to match it with ambition and productivity. Not only that, but we are now working with companies to increase a sense of purpose connected to the company vision for women which research has shown increases retention. This is good for the employer and for the women.

 

Upcoming events Melody will be speaking at, connected to this subject:

  • Keynote speaker, Future Fest, on the subject of future of work for young people and women, 17 September, London
  • Speaker at 18th Global Women in Leadership Economic Forum in Dubai, on the subject of career and purpose for women, October 2016
  • Speaker at CSR Lebanon Forum in Beirut, October 2016
  • Trainer at Women’s Forum, Deauville, France, November 2016
For all enquiries, email info@inspirEngage.com. Tweet: @inspirEngage / @Melody_Hossaini

Watch Melody speaking at TEDx Women in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

Melody Hossaini speaking to staff at University of Brighton

On Tuesday 22nd March 2016, I was invited to deliver a keynote at the ‘Make it Happen’ conference at University of Brighton. The conference which brought together some 100 staff from all levels at the University, had the aim of advancing women in the workplace and inspiring them as individuals.

This is an area that has formed a large part of the work we have undertaken at InspirEngage International, as well as my speaking tours (see blog on our work at the most influential gathering on women’s issues in the world; The Women’s Forum here). The world is waking up the importance of supporting and engaging women to prosper and to be ambitious enough to want what they deserve. Underlying issues remain around pay gap and lack of representation in certain sectors.

Within my 30 minute presentation, I covered the following components:

  • What the current landscape looks like for gender equality and pipeline for advancement of women
  • Statistical data in the difference in cognitive abilities and ambition traits of men and women
  • Studies on what women have expressed they require for fulfilment and retention in the workplace
  • The changing dynamics in the business world with growth of social enterprise
  • Practical tool on reconnecting participants with their personal purpose and career goals
  • Dialogue with colleagues, sharing insight, challenges and opportunities for change and social impact

It was a great session and I was struck by the depth in thinking on the matter and willingness to practically improve the situation. I urge other educational institutions to engage their teams on this topic. The power lies in addressing unconscious bias, challenging unjust processes that hold women back, encouraging women to become more confident and allowing each person to connect with their personal purpose and connect this to their role.

Testimonials

“Great conference and great presentation. Thank you.” Mairead Stickings, Staff, University of Brighton

“Fascinating talk by Melody” Nicola Ashton, Alumni Engagement Officer, University of Brighton

“Inspiring talk by social entrepreneur @Melody_Hossaini @InspirEngage “what we think we become” “create your own reality” – Penny Simpson, HR Member of Staff, University of Brighton

 

Email info@inspirEngage.com for all enquiries and bookings.

 

 

This must be the top issue raised by young people. Sorry, but if you graduate or even finish school and have zero experience, then what were you doing in your most time-rich period? You can get involved in so many fun things, meet amazing people as well as clock up years of experience.

A lot of employers are now telling us that they are rating experience on par with qualifications, if not higher. I started in the youth and community sector at the age of 13. Now at the age of 31, I have 18 years experience in my sector. Aside from the experience, volunteering allows you to also make a difference in your community. And what you do out of pure choice- for free, says a lot about you. #DoingWellByDoingGood

 

Watch Melody’s Top 10 First Job Vlog (in partnership with the Department for Work & Pensions).

 

For all speaking enquiries, email: info@inspirEngage.com

 

The social enterprise movement in the UK has grown to be one of the leading eco-systems globally. InspirEngage International is working across the world, supporting the development of social enterprise- most recently in Hong Kong. Here’s an insight into what we observed in this growing economy.

On panel at Social Enterprise Summit Hong Kong, Chaired by Mr Timothy Ma

A beautiful country and former British colony- Hong Kong now stands proudly with much activity in its business sector, but what about social enterprise? I was invited to speak at the Social Enterprise Summit 2015- an annual event bringing together Government, Business and community to further efforts on social enterprise in Hong Kong.

Speaking at Social Enterprise Summit Hong Kong

As part of my international speaking tour ‘How To Change The World’ – I delivered a seminar + Q&A on the reform of education with social enterprise. I shared the InspirEngage programme ‘Social Enterprise Revolution’ where we have been able to enhance the curriculum by connecting it to life skills development and social enterprise – this way making learning real, making a difference in the community as well as giving students an opportunity to generate an income. See here for more information.

I was fascinated by the interest and questions within the seminar- seemed there was much interest in the connection to education and the role of parents. As part of the summit, I was also a guest at the HSBC Business Luncheon- attended by leaders of the corporate and political sector, discussing how to advance the collaboration between business and community. This also provided a valuable insight.

Having previously delivered InspirEngage programmes in the East Asia region, it’s always been apparent that the work-ethic is strong- but furthermore, there’s a natural spirit of social responsibility which is a powerful foundation for social enterprise. The skills are there and so is investment and funding opportunty- however, I discovered other trends which I believe could be a barrier. There seems to be a notable fear of risk. People are in search of a tried and tested model and a source of support – as opposed to a hunger to innovate (which was much more the case in the UK- the social enterprise sector wanted to find another alternative to the status quo & innovate real change). It’s an interesting predicament, which I feel undervalues the power that is held by the people of Hong Kong who have every reason to be creative.

Topic of Educational Reform with Social Enterprise

There are currently 500 social enterprises in Hong Kong- almost all of which are extremely small-scale initiatives, only 2 having gained investment. There are certainly more; those who are operating with a social mission, but aren’t aware they could be a social enterprise. Either way, it’s the task of those who attended the conference to give growth to this figure.

Much can be done- impact investment, scaling-up of the current social enterprises, capturing and sharing the stories of the local social entrepreneurs, connecting it to the curriculum and also general awareness-raising.

The year of 2016 will be a significant one in the quest to strengthen the social enterprise sector in Hong Kong, as they get ready to host the 2 substantial social enterprise conferences- so watch this space!

Melody Hossaini
Tweet: @Melody_Hossaini / @inspirEngage

Women’s Forum Panelist

Since 2005 the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society has been the world’s leading platform featuring women’s views and voices on major social and economic issues.

'Lighting Many Fires' Panel at Women's Forum 2015

Deploying the experience of both women and men – business leaders, researchers, politicians, entrepreneurs across all generations and geographies come together in rich and edgy debates, acting as a sounding board for today’s important ideas and a springboard for tomorrow’s solutions. I

Panelists at Women's Forum on advancement of women in business

was thrilled to be invited as a speaker at the 2015 global gathering in Deauville held 14-16 October. I was instantly hit by the unique energy- it’s not often you are surrounded by 1000′s of incredibly powerful women.

On the panel, I was joined by Seraina Maag- President & CEO, AIG and Jane Griffiths- Company Group Chairman, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), moderated by Christie Hunter Arscott. a mother with business, as well as personal anecdotes (revealing that Seraina grew up wanting to work in the circus!). My contribution was focused on the role of social enterprise in the changing dynamics of the business world, as well as how we can better equip young people (especially young women) to advance.

Watch a short clip of my talk on this:

It was a fascinating panel discussion highlighting the fact that children of those mothers who work are statistically more likely to also work and do well, than those who don’t. Another interesting point was also the importance of sponsoring alongside mentoring. This is vital to supporting women to reach senior position (this is a large factor in both Seraina and Jane reaching theirs).

CEO Champions Member

As part of the conference there’s also a private gathering of of 45 leading figures from the public and private sectors called the CEO Champions, which I am a member of, that come together in a luncheon to debate concrete action on “building and strengthening the pipeline” for women’s advancement. Hosted by Clara Gaymard, President, Women’s Forum and CEO and President, GE France.

CEO Champion Members 2015- Deauville

The partner representatives were: Sandrine Devillard, Director and Global Leader of the McKinsey Women Initiative, McKinsey & Company Anthony Gooch, Director of Public Affairs and Communications, OECD, Mary Goudie, Member, UK House of Lords, and Founding Member, the 30 Percent Club, Jane Griffiths, Company Group Chairman, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, Seraina Maag, President & CEO EMEA, AIG Property & Casualty. Among the participants, the CEO Champions meeting, welcomed notable leaders including Marie-Christine Coisne-Roquette, Executive Chairman, Sonepar, Yves Daccord, Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Agnès Ogier, CEO, Thalys International, Stéphane Pallez, Chairman and CEO, Française des Jeux, Jean-Paul Paloméros, General, former Chief of the French Air Force and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation, Shamsa Saleh, CEO, Dubai Women Establishment and Su-Yen Wong, CEO, The Human Capital Leadership Institute and many more.

Melody Hossaini presenting at CEO Champions

Our discussions were fuelled by findings from The Power of Parity: How advancing women’s equality can drive $12 trillion in global growth’, a new study by the McKinsey Global Institute which was previewed during the Global Meeting.

We brainstormed in break-out tables on two main issues: How can we help close the gender gap in society to bring more women into the workforce? How do we create a robust and sustainable pipeline of talented women at each stage of our organizations?

Following this meeting in Deauville, all CEO Champions 2015 will co-sign a white paper capturing key insights and recommendations from the workshop — including their commitments as a group — for sharing broadly with the media as well as with preeminent institutions from the private and public sectors.

Among the “big ideas to explore” that arose:

  • Identify the “invisible” women in organizations and give them what they need to advance
  • Allow family life in the workplace: how family life can better define our professional life (not vice-versa)? Appoint gender diverse couples for CEO positions: a man and a woman to co-lead
  • Build coalitions between public and private sectors or NGOs: partnerships to influence the G20 and governments for greater equality in societies
  • Launch a global survey on employee self-esteem and develop organization-based self-esteem (important for women but also for GenY)
  • Create and disseminate a Gender Parity Index — similar to the McKinsey Gender Parity Score and sustainability index — to assess gender equality in private and public organizations on critical performance indicators
  • CEOs and Executive Committee members can act as role models: take paternity leave, part time, etc.

Look forward to taking the initiatives forward and fighting towards gender parity.

 

Stats have shown that social enterprises are outperforming the mainstream business model (see full stats here). Watch this uncut interview with me at the National Social Enterprise Festival held at Greenwich University. Questions include what qualities young people need to go into social enterprise, what educational institutions can do to help and main lesson I have learned as a social entrepreneur.

Tweet: @Melody_Hossaini

 

UNESCO Paris 2013

Do you consider yourself wealthy? When thinking about it, how do you measure it? This Vlog is inspired by a conversation I had with a young person in my community, who carries herself with dignity and poise despite not having the material things her other friends have. This Vlog is about how to increase your value, 1.37min.

 

Tweet us your thoughts on @Melody_Hossaini


Kicking off IWD 2015! InspirEngage Seminar to Adult Aspiring Entrepreneurs, Birmingham

International Women’s Day Activities

Speaking to adult aspiring entrepreneurs in Birmingham

My IWD activities kicked off in the heart of Birmingham when I was invited to be a keynote speaker at an event to inspire adult females to go into business.

'Breaking barriers in Business' IWD Birmingham

Some had already launched an enterprise and wanted to grow it, some were sitting on ideas and were not sure whether they wanted to take the plunge and some were there networking. I shared a little bit of my journey, including a personal stories, but my main focus was on being honest with the ladies – it’s hard work, yes, but it’s never been a better time to go into business, if that’s what they want to do.

I also shared the first practical steps they can take as well as low-cost methods in building their business and getting it out there. It was a pleasure, and I was moved by the ladies who came up to me afterwards. The aspect which had impacted on them most from my interactive speech was about women supporting eachother- I call it ‘becoming women-lovers!’ – see my youtube video on this > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdJ6hA4pFBs

Melody Hossaini, founder and CEO of InspirEngage International, began her talk with a strong statement: “I’m not going to give you an inspirational talk, I’m just going to keep it real.” She then proceeded to give an incredibly powerful talk, highlighting challenges she has faced so far as a business woman. The room was in complete silence as she shared stories, tips and advice, from being on BBC One’s Apprentice in 2011 to tales of how she has disarmed people with kindness. Melody gave a realistic account on the impacts of social enterprises and provided encouragement for women who are considering taking the same path.” Annika Spalding

School girls from Tamworth- Taster Startup & Stilettos Bootcamp

On 11th March, I was invited to speak to some 200 schools girls.

Provoking thought is always interactive

The day was split into half- half the girls first, then a repeat session for the rest. I spoke to the girls (aged 14-16) about how to break a task down and plan to make it happen. I did some interactive exercises with them and got them moving and thinking! They also got an opportunity to ask me any questions they wanted, mainly around my tips to them about paths to success but a couple of questions also about my fave hair products may have come up!). It was great to see transformation, despite the short session.

“Thank you so much for today. I really enjoyed what you had to say and it really has opened my eyes to different career paths that I may not have considered before. You were an amazing inspiration”Holly Boyne

“Thank you for the incredible speech, you’ve inspired me never give up at the first hurdle”Chloe Kindon

“Your talk was amazing, you really are such an inspirational person” – Luke Ash

“I loved your talk today, it was great. I learned a lot from what you said. Bootcamp sounds good too!” – Paige Nagington

“Your speech was really good and inspiring!” – Alex Reynolds

“Such a good speech Melody, you’re inspiring and beautiful”Chels Simpson

Selfie with the girls at IWD Tamworth

“The girls were very upbeat on the way back to school and I wanted to share a couple of their comments with you. One student said ’I now believe that you don’t have to be someone big, to make something big of yourself”(from a student with negative self image) and secondly, my House Captain thanked me for adding her to the list for the talk, she said it was the ’lift’ she needed to go on, when the pressures of impending exams was getting her down. Thank you for being such an inspiration to them. You have inspired me to do more work with them in school in year 11. Where do I start?” Susan Taylor, Teacher, Wilnecote High School

In the press: http://www.tamworthherald.co.uk/Teenaged-girls-Tamworth-inspired-successful-women/story-26200408-detail/story.html

Mentoring Girls with Corporate Execs

On 12th March, I was invited by Miriam Gonzalez, wife of Nick Clegg, to join the #inspiringwomen campaign (led by Education & Employers Taskforce). The campaign brings together successful women from various fields to mentor young girls. I was honoured to be joined by senior women such as Claire Valoti, Head of Agency Relations, Facebook, Nishma Robb, Head of Marketing, Google,  Simone Schuurer, Community and Social Media Manager, Microsoft and Ngaire Moyes, Director of Communications, LinkedIn.

Mentoring girls at Mulberry School

We walked in to around 150 girls at round tables, with lots of questions prepared for all of us. As mentors, we were all seated at a different table each and had 7mins to take as many questions as possible before the bell ringing and having to rotate! The girls asked me questions such as; ‘what did you study as school’, ‘what do you do on a typical day?’, ‘What advice would you give your younger self?’ and lots more! Really interesting day and a great energy in the room. The girls seem very motivated!

 

 

Last blog of 2014

It’s been a year of enterprise booming in Britain (most notably social enterprise), of Gogglebox making us laugh and Google becoming more valuable than Russia! As always, the year has flown by way too quickly, packed with exciting developments both at InspirEngage International and in my personal life. Here are my highlights.

InspirEngage International has had an exciting 2014:

  • Startup and Stilettos has been growing and helping more women to launch their social enterprises. One of the ladies, Patricia made her dreams come true by setting up a business selling her art, using profits to help young people in her area have something to do

    Startup & Stilettos

    and create their own Art which they can sell! We also branched out and for the first time ever delivered a Social Media Bootcamp in partnership with Hillcroft College and Astonish Email. This is vital for adult women and it was really well-received inopening a whole new world of possibilities. Blog on this here > http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2014/07/startup-stilettos-social-media-for-adult-women/ Another highlight was attending and contributing at G8 Summit in London on women in the Arab world attended by the World Bank, Eve Branson, Cherie Blair and Royal family members.

  • Social Enterprise Revolution – Embedding social enterprise into the curriculum, this year featured in the Lord Young ‘Enterprise For All’ report. Our first year has come to an end with our Pioneer Colleges. We’ve seen several social enterprises being born by students- impacting their communities, making money and being assessed in their curriculum. Here’s an insight into our work at Harrow College > http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2014/08/social-enterprise-revolution-harrow-college/
  • InspirEngage Grows! – This year InspirEngage has expanded our team by taking on new expert Trainers as well as extended our intake of Young Ambassadors, Patrons (including Princess Badiya of Jordan) and Mentors. A special thank you to everyone who make up the InspirEngage story.
  • Personal news: Kian… My 2014 is defined by me becoming a mother. On 10 September, I gave birth to a little boy who has changed my world. We named him Kian (name of the ancient Persian Kings – pronounced ‘Kee-aan’). He’s a happy little boy and a social entrepreneur in training! I regularly baby-blog; keep an eye!

Kian and I

Wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful 2015 ahead.

Throw Kindness Around Like Confetti!

 

What was your first job? The Department for Work and Pensions has launched a brand new campaign sharing #FirstJob stories, in the hope to inspire young people seeking their first job. I’m pleased to be supporting it, and this is my first job story video.

Melody’s #FirstJob Story: 

Also see ‘Top 10 Tips for finding your #FirstJob’: http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2013/11/how-to-have-the-perfect-job-interview-my-top-tips/

 

Join the conversation with hashtag #FirstJob and tweet us @Melody_Hossaini / @DWPgovuk

Are women better in business than men? What challenges do women face? This and many other questions in a recent interview with Melody Hossaini with Ultrapreneur Magazine.

1. Describe your business or current project

We are a social enterprise delivering innovative programmes that support young people and women to be successful by giving back. We work with educational institutions and businesses delivering shock-tactic skills Bootcamps.

2. What made you want to be an entrepreneur?

I’m an accidental social entrepreneur! Since the age of 13, I had been volunteering and being part of building engagement frameworks for young people’s participation in their community, and after my law degree, I made it my career. Just thought to myself- how can I continue doing what I love but earn a living out of it, that’s how InspirEngage was born.

3. What do you think are the biggest challenges’ that women face today as female entrepreneurs?

It’s different for different women and each sector has its own traits, however, here are the most common I’ve seen:

  • Not being taken seriously if you’re a feminine woman- you don’t have to be alpha-female to be strong in business ladies!
  • If a man is a go-getter he’s ambitious, if a woman is a fiery go-getter she’s often branded as aggressive.
  • Women with children (I’m pregnant right now and really thinking a lot about this) have barriers relating to their priorities at home and work. Something has to give and it’s not easy.

Having said all that, the times are changing and this is the best time to be a female (social) entrepreneur.

4. What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?

The freedom to innovate.

5. Do you think that the entrepreneurship sector is too male dominated and that more doors need to be open for women?

In the world of social enterprise, the male/female ratio is now at 50% with women changing the dynamics of business. Buckle up ladies- this is our time!

6. Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

Been running InspirEngage International for over 5 years now having achieved some awesome things like launching the UK’s first hands-on social enterprise programme embedded into the curriculum of schools, colleges and Unis (http://inspirengage.com/wp-content/uploads/SocEnt-Revolution-Flyer1.pdf) and contributing to international platforms such as Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (which featured on the Queen’s speech)- but most important, supporting young people who never believed they could, and adult women who had lost confidence, to launch their own successful social enterprises that not only make money but give back. I want to continue this- a lot more to do.

7. What would you say to other women out there both young and older that want to break out there as entrepreneurs but don’t know how or where to start from?

There’s a lot to say! I often blog about it – see http://www.melodyhossaini.com/blog/. But in short:

  1. What do you ultimately want? Don’t set up a business for the sake of it- tap into what you’re passionate about, your strengths and where you want to go and find a path that fits.
  2. Make a 1 pager and run it by some people in that sector
  3. Make a start! So many times, people build things up so much that it overwhelms them and they never begin. Take the first step and watch it snowball.

8. One of the main things that female entrepreneurs get most cross about is that they are treated differently, that they don’t get the same chances and opportunities as men. What is your perspective on that view?

Perhaps that’s true for some- but I actually think that the greatest barrier to women’s success is other women unfortunately. I recently recorded a Vlog (a video blog on my youtube channel) about this and how we can become ‘women lovers!’ > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdJ6hA4pFBs&list=UUlGNevYoZDDNarSIeCHf4ng&index=2 Tweet me and let me know what you guys think!

9. As a female entrepreneur, do you feel that you have had to work harder, or change your way of working, in order to make a success of what you do?

I’m a feminine woman in business, an ex-asylum seeker/ immigrant who started in my sector when I was just 13. You could say I was ‘disadvantaged’ but I resent that label. I think mindset is everything. See no obstacle and that will be your reality. That’s not naive- that’s proactive.

10. It has been said that women do make better entrepreneurs than men? Would you agree?

No- not necessarily. Women, men, young people – I don’t care what you are, but I care about what you can bring to the table and what difference you can make. Ultimately your work should speak for itself.

See Melody’s youtube video on how women can support other women to prosper!

 

Follow Melody on twitter + ig: @Melody_Hossaini and @InspirEngage

InspirEngage Bootcamp for students

“Everybody is a genius- but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree- it will live its whole life believing that it’s stupid” Einstein. This is ethos behind the InspirEngage Skills Bootcamps- each young person needs to find their path to success. In order to do that, we support participants to explore their personal identity, strengths and long-term goals, coupled with practical life skills to achieve their goals. We use unique shock-tactics and extremely (!) interactive methods to push participants out of their comfort growth, resulting in growth.

In June 2014, we were invited by Mosaic to support their Enterprise Challenge for the 2nd year running. As one of the prizes, students came together from across 5 schools to receive a unique Bootcamp- and here’s what happened…..

(Piece below from Mosaic article)

MELODY HOSSAINI TAKES APAX-MOSAIC ENTERPRISE CHALLENGE 2014 FINALISTS TO BOOTCAMP!

Melody Hossaini with Enterprise Challenge students

Melody Hossaini, former contestant on BBC’s The Apprentice, took this year’s Apax-Mosaic Enterprise Challenge finalists to a special Enterprise Bootcamp organised by her company InspirEngage International.

Part of a series of follow up prizes to the competition, the enterprise-focussed workshop gave the 23 students from the five schools that finalised in the competition – St Bede’s Catholic Grammar School in Bradford, Harborne Academy in Birmingham, Langley Academy in Slough, Ladybridge High School in Bolton and Brondesbury College for Boys in London – a day to remember.

The students heard from Melody at first-hand about her experience in setting up her company and were given an opportunity to develop their own knowledge and skills across a range of areas linked to setting up and running a social enterprise.“Was really impressed with the students’ progress – not only in their engagement but also their personal growth and consideration for each other.”

Commenting on the Bootcamp, Melody Hossaini, founder and CEO of InspirEngage International said:

“Really pleased to have worked with the Mosaic Enterprise Challenge Finalists for a second year in delivering a taster InspirEngage Bootcamp! The Bootcamp covered life skills modules as well as a strong theme of social enterprise. This forms part of our work with schools on embedding social enterprise into the curriculum- a programme called ‘Social Enterprise Revolution!’

“Was really impressed with the students’ progress – not only in their engagement but also their personal growth and consideration for each other. Look forward to InspirEngage International and Mosaic working together again in future.”

Here’s what some of the students had to say about their day:

“Memorable, exhilarating and definitely a lot better than I thought.” – Abdulhamid, Harborne Academy.

“InspirEngage International is a valuable enterprise for young people like us, Melody is a fantastic ambassador for social enterprises.” – Abrar, Ladybridge High School

“This was a very different working environment I enjoyed it as well.” – Justin, Ladybridge High School

“It was Amazing!” – Francis, St Bede’s

“I’ve never done anything like it. It was unique.” – Dhanseet, Harborne Academy

“It was an amazing and unique experience, I need to do this again!” – Chabir, Ladybridge High School

Jonathan Freeman, National Director of Mosaic, said:

“This was a unique opportunity for the students and provided them with really exciting way to develop their knowledge and skills from somebody who has a very successful story to tell. We are very grateful to Melody Hossaini and InspirEngage International for their time and support for the Apax-Mosaic Enterprise Challenge and to all of our sponsors.”

Photo Credit: Romana Love Photography

There’s absolutely no hinderance for women to succeed, if they work hard and kick ass! Or is there…? I’m a 37 week-pregnant entrepreneur running InspirEngage International and for the first time, I am feeling the difference in men and women as I prepare to juggle motherhood and a busy career. Here’s my latest pregnancy blog.

On 7th January, we found out I was 2-3 weeks pregnant and it’s been a beautiful blur since, made up of baby nurseries, travel systems (yes that’s what a pram, car seat and whole thing is called!) and baby Ralph Lauren all-in-ones! I’m now 37 weeks pregnant with a little boy and due to give birth anytime in the next 3 weeks.

I’m also the Founder and CEO of social enterprise InspirEngage International- an organisation focused on developing skills of young people and vulnerable women in order for them to be successful by giving back. Have been working in this sector since the age of 13, taken InspirEngage into 100 countries in the world and supported thousands into work that also supports the community. It’s an important part of my life- not just a job. One could say InspirEngage is my baby.

So what happens when a real baby is about to enter the picture? Well, needless to say, the answer is different depending on the circumstances and choices of that particular parent and the needs of that particular baby. But that’s the key word- choices. You have to, as a female career-driven mother, make choices. The age old question of- ‘can women have it all’, I’ve always felt is, yes! However, with that, comes a level of sacrifice.

My pregnancy has been a pleasure and pretty hassle-free (not counting the unbearable itching in this last growth spurt!). This has meant that I’ve been able to balance pregnancy and work very well. Going into the office, travelling -even out of the country delivering a tour of InspirEngage programmes for students and teachers in Jordan, and managing a team have been doable. But that’s just the beginning- have been asking myself, what happens, when the baby arrives?

Well, firstly, I see this is a beautiful journey and feel extremely blessed- I can’t wait to see what’s in store! However, reality remains that there will probably be a lot to juggle. How long do you take off to dedicate to the baby? How long should you breastfeed and be available to the baby? Is it ok to want to get back to work? All questions women may ask themselves at this stage.

I tweeted about this earlier and @Michelle_BID responded: “that’s just the start of it, then nursery costs / juggling career and then school holidays all to come”. Yep that’s true- and it’s all a pleasure and what life is about, I am looking forward to it all- but it has impact. An impact which I think men feel a lot less- career wise. For the first time, I am really feeling the difference between men and women in business.

Having said that, women don’t have to let having babies be the end of their career- that’s not what I am saying at all and every mother is different! However, you do have to give birth, you may have to take time out and do things differently for a little while at least.

During my time of working and training incredible women as part of ‘Startup and Stilettos’, I have also seen inspirational stories of numerous women who reassessed what they wanted to do following having children and changed their career for the better- perhaps due to the added motivation gained by having their baby – many female entrepreneurs are born this way, in fact! They naturally find a way to balance their growing priorities better.

Startup and Stilettos ladies and I. 27 weeks pregnant

So what’s the role of men in this – I read the above to my husband and this is what he had to say: “The role of men is to be the pillar and rock. I’m already used to you being independent and career-driven, balanced with marriage, and this is just another step. The role of a man (or my role, at least) is to create a stable platform for you to pursue your ambitions.”

I’m just at the beginning of this journey- so much yet to experience and learn once the baby arrives and no idea what the answers to the above questions are, but know that it’s never been a better time to be a female entrepreneur, I know that it’s important to have a strong support network, I know that it’s vital to have a strong mindset. I look forward to the challenges and pleasures ahead!

Tweet me your thoughts- how did you find it? @Melody_Hossaini

 


Aug 142014

Did you (or someone you know) open that special envelope today to get your A-level results? Was it what you expected or disappointed with your results? I cried my eyes out when I opened mine- didn’t go to plan, and here’s my story and what I did next.

At A-levels I took German, French, English Lit and Psychology. I wanted to study Law at University and my first choice was University of Birmingham which, I think, was 4th or 5th in the country for law at the time. I needed AAB to get in.

Having grown up in Sweden (came to England when I was 13) and English being my 3rd language, meant that I always had to work harder than everyone else academically in order to achieve. I worked hard for the A-levels and thought I’d done well.

I remember the morning of the results so well! I woke up really early despite the results not being out til 10.30am at our school. I made my mum go with me early and I was literally the first one there! As I opened my envelope, I was full of hope, but that soon came crashing down as I read my results. I got BBCC…. at that moment, I felt like my world fell apart. I burst into tears and kept staring at the paper hoping that the letters would change.

So what do you do if the results aren’t what you were hoping for? There’s no right or wrong answer in a way- depends who you are, how badly you wanted ‘the plan’ and what you want to do. I immediately phoned Uni of Birmingham and told them of my grades and they confirmed that they had filled their places with AAA students and some AAB- so there was no chance I would be accepted (another spurt of tears!).

My second option was Oxford Brookes University- which, at the time, was 7th in the country for Law. I really didn’t want to move away and am the kind of person who focuses in on a goal so I hadn’t even entertained the thought of going to my second choice. I had to make the decision of whether I wanted to go through clearing or go to my second choice. I chose Oxford Brookes Univerity.

The day I had to go see the city of Oxford and the uni was my first time there altogether! I cried the whole day (I’m not a big crier by the way, but my education and University plans were so set in stone in my mind and it was a shock).

September came and I moved to Oxford to begin my course. Thinking back now, Uni years were some of the best years in my life. I absolutely loved living in Oxford, loved the Uni and the course. The Uni supported one of my projects for the community and funded £4,000 for me to get it off the ground (for which, I later won an award from the Home Office). I also did really well in my degree achieving a high 2:1.

Not only that, but it was at Oxford Brookes that I met my husband. I was in the canteen having lunch with a friend, when my friend recognised one of his friends. She was sat with my (now) husband and they introduced us!

Whether you got the grades you wanted or not- this is just the beginning. I tweeted earlier saying young people have more opportunities than ever for creative career paths- whether it’s Uni, business, social enterprise or employment and apprenticeships. Stay focused, apply yourself to whatever you choose to go with and don’t rush – make an informed decision that’s right for you.

I ask people why they do what they do and too many shrug their shoulders and can’t remember the reason. Don’t live your life on auto-pilot. “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” InspirEngage Bootcamps support young people to develop the skills and support to consider their passion and create viable career plans backed by the core skills- so we see time and time again the difference that mindset can make.

My warmest wishes to all those entering the next chapter of their lives. As always, tweet us your thoughts and questions on @InspirEngage / @Melody_Hossaini

For those going into the job market- see the below video for my top tips in an interview!

 

In 2013, Harrow College became a national Pioneer of Social Enterprise Revolution- an InspirEngage programme and the UK’s first hands-on programme to embed social enterprise into the curriculum of schools, colleges and universities. By incorporating social enterprise into their curriculum, they took an innovative approach to pathways into work for students. Here’s the round-up!
 

The InspirEngage team put the students through the intense 8 Skills Bootcamps and Incubator throughout the academic year to develop core skills to launch their own social enterprise connected to the curriculum area. Make money and make a difference!

Student projects included,

  • Hair, Beauty and Love! > One group of students took the initiative to organise an event to offer their hair and beauty services to staff and visitors of Great Ormond Street Hospital. Fees from treatments offered were donated to the renowned children’s hospital
  • Bringing cultures together! > A group of female students felt passionately about celebrating and bridging the gap between various cultures in their community and planned a wonderful event with culture food and dance that students contributed to!
  • Be active- be healthy! > If young people have something to do and somewhere to go, they can get out their houses and be active and lead healthier lifestyles. This group of students organised outdoor games for young people in their area.

One student said, ‘I’ve found it very inspirational, because you’re doing something to help someone- which is a good thing for us teenagers – doing something good to help and give back to our community.’

As part of the programme students promote their social enterprise projects at the end of programme Showcase Day. On reflection one student said, ‘Social Enterprise Revolution has helped me develop my future. I know better what I might be doing and I’ve gained knowledge in business and my future is a bit clearer now, than it was a few months ago’.

After Showcase Day, students who have successfully completed the one year programme attend the Social Enterprise Revolution Graduation Day! After graduating, one student said, ‘Social Enterprise Revolution has helped me develop my employability skills, my leadership and management qualities and I am more confident about my future and I’ve got a better idea of how to start and run a business thanks to Social Enterprise Revolution – thank you’.

InspirEngage Mentors, Hannah Catmur and Seun Oshinaike who are successful young entrepreneurs gave up their time to support the students on their enterprise journey at one of the InspirEngage Bootcamps.

InspirEngage Founder and CEO, Melody Hossaini said at the “Amidst a time when there is so much pressure on educational institutions to think innovatively about pathways into work for students, I would like to congratulate Harrow College for adopting social enterprise within their curriculum. Over the course of the year, we have seen positive development in the students, and feel Social Enterprise Revolution finally offers the opportunity for formal education and creative social enterprise to collide.”

Benefits of Social Enterprise Revolution:

  • Allows students to develop their life skills
  • Make their learning real by connecting it to local community causes
  • Develop an enterprising mindset
  • Students make money & start potential work whilst still in education
  • Educational institutions become national Pioneers of Social Enterprise

For all enquiries email: info@inspirEngage.com

Tweet: @SocEnt_Rev / @InspirEngage

Putting other people down to make yourself look big is one of the most cowardly things one can do. Ever thought about why bullies behave the way they do? Felt angered and just put them down to a lost cause? We speak to a lot of young people who are victims of bullying and we explain that those who attack and generally feel the need to belittle someone, are very troubled individuals themselves.

If you think about it, no one who is confident, stable and happy would feel the need to put someone down. Nothing is gained. However, unfortunately, it’s a very common coping mechanism for others. What we do and say is a reflection on us, not on the person it’s said about.

In 2011, I took part in BBC’s ‘The Apprentice’ – and a competitive show like that does push you to your limits. Although it was a little cringe at times when watching back me justifying why I was the worthy winner, it did make me proud to know that I don’t put other people down to make myself look big. Focus on what you can bring to the table and what you can do, rather than relying on why other people can’t, because otherwise, when that component is removed, you’re not left with anything.

You can disarm people with kindness. Sometimes that shocks people more than being mean. I spoke about this in a previous video which can be seen below. Ultimately, that gives you a good kind of power. That’s what’s important and that’s what will make you big- by helping someone else. Blowing out someone’s candle, won’t make yours shine any brighter.

So here’s the challenge we’re setting you- next time, you come to say something negative about someone, don’t and replace it with expressing kindness or a compliment. This will help them and you.

Tweet us your thoughts and experiences on this @InspirEngage/ @Melody_Hossaini

Watch the video explaining how you can disarm people with kindness!

Just started a business, or thinking of starting one? Then you need to know the following basic essentials! Watch my video interview with expert Accountant Sue Towner with her top 3 tips for startups.

Hope it’s helpful. Your thoughts and questions welcomed as always- tweet us: @InspirEngage/ @Melody_Hossaini


Ballerina? World-leader? Cowboy? Inventor? What did you want to be when you were little? This blog explains why going back to your childhood dreams, could make your career more fulfilling today.

Remember when you used to say the sentence ‘When I grow up I want to be a…’ and it was so easy to commit to an ambitious dream. Not because it seemed unrealistic or so far away but because as children our thoughts are bolder and free of complexities that also create barriers. Those early dreams are more important than you think. Here’s why.

When I was 8 years old, I was obsessed with being a clothes designer (I couldn’t even spell the word ‘designer’!). I remember walking to my local library, sitting there for hours with old books about clothes and fashion through the centuries and sketch in my little sketch book until the library closed. That same local library became something I kept connecting to my ambitions. A couple of years later aged 10, I wanted to be a lawyer when I grew up. An inherent sense of wanting to make a difference through knowledge. A passion for social justice.

Aged 13, upon moving to England, I became a co-founder of a national democratic youth organisation working in the community (including with libraries!) to help improve the lives of children and young people. We lobbied, changed policies and even laws. Years later, I went to University and studied for a qualifying law degree. But upon graduating, I decided to ask Oxford Institute of Legal Practice (where I had a place to complete my LPC) to hold my place for the year, while I explored my passion in the sector I’d held since childhood. I never looked back.

I realised I was the child who needed to be out in the community, I was the child who couldn’t be bound by rigid lines- but a creative child who liked to innovate (drawing new designs), and fight for what’s right (lawyer). So I created a brand new thing. A social enterprise called InspirEngage International.

The dreams you held when you were a child, are some of the most daring dreams you’ll ever hold. It wasn’t because you wanted to hit your financial targets, it wasn’t because people forced you and you were caught in the flow of the system to be something, and it wasn’t out of fear, therefore settling. Those dreams reflected the purest part of you.

So what should you do now?

Research released by Foosle.

The point isn’t about going and pursuing whatever you wanted to be when you were 5! But sit down and reflect on why perhaps you were drawn to those things at that age- the notions behind it. When your mind allowed you to be daring and bold without limits- what did it choose? Then see whether you have incorporated those elements into your life in your career now… or are you 1 million miles away? Going back to my personal example, I feel that although I am not a clothes designer, nor a lawyer, I have incorporated the reasons I was drawn to them, into my career now.

According to research released today by job site Foosle, people don’t just measure job satisfaction against a salary. People want to enjoy the work every day (40%), have a feel-good factor (37%) and have passion for the role (34%). See picture.

So when it comes to entering a career you truly enjoy- think back to those things you enjoyed for the sake of enjoyment when you were young, and passions you held without reason and ask yourself whether there is room for this in your career now. Seems our childhood dreams- weren’t just dreams, but perhaps even a forecast of a side of us more reflective than our current reality.

And before you go- here’s something to make you chuckle!

This is a genuine picture drawn by a little girl depicting what she wants to be when she grows up! Followed by a very uncomfortable explanation by her mummy the next day!


Melody Hossaini. CEO, InspirEngage International.

We want to know what you wanted to be when you were little! Tweet us using #WhenIGrowUp @InspirEngage / @Melody_Hossaini

 

 

 

 

Melody Hossaini- CEO of InspirEngage International and survivor of the ultimate interview: The Apprentice!

InspirEngage International delivers ‘Career Clinics’ supporting participants to secure successful employment- from confidence building, crystalising a career goal to mock interviews and techniques. In addition to that, a couple of years ago, I took part in the toughest interview process there is- BBC’s The Apprentice! In this blog, I’ve put together my ultimate Interview Tips- The full Youtube Video is below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can also watch: Application Forms- Top Tips:


 

 

You can tweet us on @Melody_Hossaini / @InspirEngage and for all enquiries and bookings, email info@inspirEngage.com