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  • The People Alchemist

“Believe in Yourself – You Can” – The Woman Alchemist , Natasha Makhijani


Interview with Natasha Makhijani Founder & Group CEO, The Oliver Sanderson Group PLC.

This interview is an extract from the book “STOP IT! It is all in your head” available on Amazon now.

If you want to be the best, you need to learn from the best – I have not invented this phrase – you can hear it from the lips of the most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, billionaires out there. And that is the point.

You need someone who has been there, seen it, done it and got the t-shirt so to speak and you can emulate exactly what he or she has done and shortcut your way to success.

If you want to be successful, find someone who has achieved the results you want and copy what they do and you’ll achieve the same results” – Tony Robbins.

In January I started a feature monthly blog covering Women in Business who have inspired me in the past and in the present. These women were and are my personal choice, I have looked up to them as examples, beacons of what is possible to achieve if you are really determined; they are not perfect women by any means, but I am who I am today because of them.

They are examples that the only thing standing between you and your goals are the stories you tell yourself as to why you can’t achieve them. They were true ‘Alchemists’ turning their ‘metal into gold’, the hand they were given in to what they wanted.

There are many women alchemists out there, either working in senior positions/at the top of a corporate environment, or founders/CEO of their own successful biz and I wanted to bring these “flesh and blood women” to you in a series of interviews to inspire you to #smashthatceiling – women inspiring women.

The interviews are about their personal journey rather than the companies they work in and what these companies are doing for Women in Leadership.

You may ask why is that? Surely Big (or small) Organisations should do more to promote women in leadership positions and/or women on board’s blah blah blah…

Yes sure. I am however a great believer in personal responsibility and most importantly that mindset is everything.

I met Natasha Makhijani quite a few years ago when I was still climbing the corporate ladder and she was working for a well-known global recruiting agency and she placed me within an organisation as Head of HR. We had an immediate rapport and I realised then she was one to watch…..

Natasha eventually left and founded her own company, Oliver Sanderson, a Search & Selection agency across different disciplines and industries and has taken the company to Group/Plc. status. She was nominated for the Diversity Champion of the Year Award, Women in Logistics two years in a row.

This is a woman who gets noticed and kicks ***.

So, without further ado…

1. When you were a child what was your dream job and why?

My dream job was always to open my own business but not in recruitment but in the Asian Bridal Industry, as I am a very creative person. My dream was to open a shop east meets west in Chelsea or Knights bridge and cater for the one-stop-shop for the bridal industry from the dress, to make up to the Jewelry for the Asian, English, Arabic bride and so forth.

2. Can you tell me the time that you started to consider yourself successful?

From a young age, I was always hardworking, confident, and ambitious. I believe if you work hard and have faith you will succeed. The road may not be easy there will be ups and downs but continue and your path will change its course to success.

3. I’m sure like every business/business person you have faced adversity: how do you motivate yourself and force through the worst times?

My belief, my values, my family, and my passion for life. The fact that if I have struggled and seen the worst times which believe me I have, I pick myself up, smile, and continue as I know it is a passing phase and there is sunshine at the end of the tunnel.

4. What are the best things about your job?

My business is a people led industry, I have fun and do what I do best: change people’s lives. Working with clients and candidates and making them happy, building a relationship with them there is nothing more rewarding than this.

5. As Tony Robbins says, “Success leaves clues”: what are your daily/weekly habits?

I am very focused and disciplined. I train three times a week at the gym and practice yoga, eat healthy, work long hours, and always deliver to my clients and candidates. I would say to run your own business you need to be disciplined and focus. It means sacrifice in certain areas of your life. Success comes with hard work and confidence and to never give up. It will not be handed to anyone on a plate.

6. What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

The most significant barrier to female leadership is that the boardroom is still very male-led although several businesses have now become very diverse. The barrier to entry is that women must balance being a business leader, a wife, a mother, and manage the house. There are some amazing women out there that have achieved all of this and some that have had to sacrifice certain aspects of their life to reach the top. The industry has opened these doors for women but I still feel a lot more support can be given. Look at how many women are lost to the world of work once they become mothers. Industry and the workplace need to make this easier for those women who would like to pursue both avenues. The Female leader should not be lost and when she reaches the top feel guilty as she cannot fulfil all her duties as a woman. She should be given support in all areas. Society is changing but we still have a long way to go.

7. What women inspire you and why?

  • Susie Robinson – VP of HR EMEA – DHL

  • Tanith Dodge – Group HRD Value Retail and ex M & S Group

  • Sharon Doherty – Vodafone Global Organisation & People Development Director

These three women are an inspiration to me now and as a young woman from my earlier career. I have watched and followed how they have managed to balance and achieve great things in their careers, professionally, personally, and be successful in the board room. A real inspiration to women across the globe. These three women are shining examples that there is nothing you cannot achieve.

8. What advice would you give to your 16year old self?

Believe in yourself, You can.

9. Your instant mindfulness fix…

Yoga, peace and to smile.

10. And finally, something frivolous: the best thing about being a woman…

Handbags and Shoes. But most of all being able to have my hair and nails done every week. You don’t need to make up but if your hair looks good, nails are done and eyebrows are shaped you are ready to face the world and conquer all.

Top Takeaways from Natasha:

  • Believe in yourself, You Can.

  • Work hard and have faith.

  • In difficult times pick yourself up, smile, and continue (it will pass): there is sunshine at the end of the tunnel.

  • Love what you do and have fun with it.

  • Be focused and disciplined – success comes with hard work; nobody is going to hand it over to you on a plate.

See you, next week folks….


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