Leila Andrews Interview

A need to inspire others has lead Leila Andrews to live a very interesting life thus far. Having lived in Australia, India and Canada, Leila has dedicated her career to working and volunteering for non-profit organizations in managerial roles all around the world. Her entrepreneurship has lead her to start a human movement in India which educated schools on child safety. In her spare time this business savvy women uses her PR persona ‘Leila Love’ to run her own successful events and promotions business, Fashion Society. Leila shares what inspires her in this ACN interview below.

1.   Why is it important that woman succeed in business?

I think it is extremely important for women to succeed in business, the same way men succeed in business. To be honest I don’t think we need to segregate men and women in business. I am all for women business seminars if they are empowering, but I am against anything referring to women as a separate entity. I believe that women can achieve anything that men can within a business sense. I personally believe that success is mostly determination with a mix of theoretical and practical knowledge, which is irrespective of gender.

2.     Do women bring to business something men don’t?

Yes women definitely have attributes they can contribute to business, this often comes second nature, comparatively to men’s natural attributes. For example, nurturing, listening and multitasking are skills that most women do naturally and without effort or training. These skills can be extremely beneficial when applied to human resources, training and the organizational aspects of a business. In saying that, I also know many males that excel at nurturing, listening and multitasking so I guess it is really specific to the individual. I do know they are currently looking for more female truck drivers for the mines in Western Australia because of their attention to detail, which is food for thought.

3.       What motivates you to succeed?

My motivation to succeed is rather personal and possibly very different to other peoples. I lost 2 women very close to me at an early age so I think about all the things they didn’t have the opportunity to achieve and channel it into determination. My main motivation is knowing that one of the women had a goal that they never had the time to achieve, which is upsetting, but learning from that and moving forward means anytime I have a goal I try to achieve it straight away. You never know what will happen tomorrow and when my time is up I want to know I gave everything 110%!

4.       What advice do you have for women hesitant about their own abilities?

This is a great question! I think the reason why most women do not succeed is their lack of self confidence and lack of support. I know I have personally struggled with this very topic. I think women need more approval and reassurance from peers than men do and when we don’t receive it we get discouraged to continue on our quest. I have found that within Australia you can gain support from working a 9-5 job, watching TV at night and getting drunk on the weekend. That’s the Australian dream and most peers will support you to achieve that. Trying to start your own business, get a higher education, or aim to achieve something out of the social norm can some times lead to isolation or others trying to cut you back down to size, known as ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’.

My advice is to never let other people’s opinions discourage your personal goals. If you have a dream or a goal you want to achieve then just focus on achieving it. Getting other peoples opinions and advice is great, but don’t let it affect your ultimate decision if they disagree. For example in 2010 I wanted to move to India by myself and work with disadvantaged children, everyone who I told thought I was mad. I can honestly say to date that it was the best experience of my whole entire life and if I had of listened to everyone I never would have gone. Another example is Richard Branson, when he told people about his initial business idea, 90% of the people he told said he would fail. Look at him now!

5.       Do women do enough to help other women in business?

It depends on your location and your current network. I found that when I lived in Toronto business women were very supportive. I even remember one example of a friend who approached this really successful business woman and asked her to go for a coffee and the business women went without hesitation. I find that everyone in Toronto / Canada is extremely good at networking and supporting other people. I also feel very lucky that I had the opportunity to experience business within that culture.

Within Australia I have found women are a bit more secretive in business but you just have to keep searching and be open to meet new people. It is a lot easier to connect with women through business if you share a common interest. For example, I am passionate about fundraising so I approached business women in Brisbane who were also interested in fundraising to contribute to a charity event. I am still in touch with most of them today and really appreciate their support.

6.            What top tip would you give to a woman trying to get ahead?

Determination overrides natural ability’. A teacher told everyone that in high school on the lead up to HSC (High School Certificate). Obviously I didn’t listen to that advice as I went terrible in the HSC, but I have learnt from that lesson. Since then I have completed a Diploma in Liberal Arts, a Bachelor in Behavioural Science (Psychology), a Certificate in Fashion Business and Merchandising and am about to start a Masters in Business (Public Relations). So I guess the moral to the story is, even if you are naturally talented at something it doesn’t mean you will definitely be successful. Success means knowing how to overcome your failures whilst still pushing towards you goals.

7.            Do you see a culture change-taking place in the boardroom?

Definitely, I know many business savvy women who could easily go up against men in an intellectual debate within a boardroom setting. I don’t think anyone would be able to say that 40 years ago. We are lucky to live in a society where women are regarded equal to men within the workplace. I personally know some females and males who have the same job title and the women are on a higher salary. That’s awesome!

8.            Who inspires you and why?

Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Courtney Love and Ted Talks. Although I know Ted Talks isn’t a person but I still watch them on a regular basis for inspiration. Richard Branson and Steve Jobs are a given, I have a lot of respect for where they came from and how much they have done with their lives (RIP Steve Jobs). Anyone can be handed money but it takes a truly determined person to make their own fortune. Courtney Love because when I was growing up everyone else was worshiping the Spice Girls. I admired that Courtney was being herself; a loud, opinionated woman who used her words to express her thoughts and her past. Courtney to me represents freedom of speech and individualism, hence why I adopted the last name ‘Love’ for my PR and fashion persona.

9.            Can you celebrate your own success?

That is a tricky question. I am a huge believer in celebrating other people’s success but it is often difficult to celebrate my own success. I think it’s because I always want everything to be bigger and better, so as soon as I have achieved something I think about how I can improve it or do something better in the future. I really should start reflecting more on my own achievements though. In saying that after all events I definitely let my hair down and have a few drinks to celebrate, I am a firm believer in letting go of your inhibitions every once in a while. I think one of the best traits a person can have is being able to have fun without caring what other people think.

10.          Is the question “Can women have it all?” an excellent question, an offensive question or just old hat?

I think it is still an excellent question because it is always going to be relevant for women. The reason why I think women find it difficult to have it all is because of the biological time limit, whereas I don’t think men have that pressure. Out of all the questions this one really stands out to me as I want to achieve so much before I have children. By the age of 30 I want to have stepped foot on all the continents, finished a masters degree, have an established career within my industry, have a successful business on the side, still be with my partner, maintain good relationships with all of my family and friends, be financially free, be physically fit, and still be able to have a fun night out now and then. It is a real juggling act for me but I really want to have it all and am willing to fight for it!

11.  Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

This is a tough one. I know that I am meant to refer to a 5 and 10 year plan and say something wise but to be honest I just take each day at it comes. I guess I won’t really care what I am doing as long as I am somehow positively contributing to the world and I am happy. Also I think it’s nice to leave a few things up to fate.

12.   Quote that inspires you?

There are 2 quotes that I live by. The first one is on the wall of my home office:

‘A year from now you may have wished you started today’.

The second one is a tattoo I have on my back ‘Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today’.