Vanessa Sanyauke is the Founder and CEO of Girls Talk London and a keynote speaker and presenter based in London. Vanessa has over 8 years’ experience in the financial services and charity sector in a number of roles helping FTSE 100 businesses with corporate social responsibility, gender, and youth consulting. Vanessa has worked with clients such as The Bank of England, Societié Generalé, O2, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Barclays, State Street, Igate, Salesforce, Vodafone, BT, Ericsson, Allen and Overy, Lloyds Bank, Bauer Media, UBS, RBS Legal, Rabobank, Reed Smith and CMS Cameron McKenna delivering and managing corporate social responsibility and gender diversity programmes.
She is a regular speaker on leadership, gender and corporate social responsibility and has spoken at UN Women UK, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Google UK, City Hall, Inside Government, Institute of Directors, Imperial College and The Southbank Centre. Vanessa was a London speaker for the 2012 WIE Network event alongside Vivienne Westwood, Rosario Dawson and Jameela Jamil.
She has written for publications such as The Guardian, Confederation of British Industry, Entrepreneur Country, 02 News and Precious Online on leadership, gender and enterprise as a contributing writer. Vanessa has met with the Prime Minister David Cameron and advisers at No 10 Downing Street on numerous occasions to advise them on issues that affect young people in the UK.
Vanessa is the Host and Creator of Girls Talk London Sessions, a new online panel talk show that provides inspiration and tips from leading experts on fashion, beauty, careers, business, health and well-being alongside conversation on current news. Her co-hosts include Sky 1 Presenter Remel London, Cast Member of Bear Grylls Series 1 on Channel 4 Dean Quinton Smith and Journalist and Blogger Yazmin Joy Vigus.
During her final year at Brunel University in 2008, Vanessa started her first social enterprise, The Rafiki Network, an award winning organisation that provided mentoring & training services for over 2,000 young people in London. In April 2010 until January 2014 she was a Trustee of national youth volunteering charity vInspired. In 2011 she was presented with a Peace Award from The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson for her contribution to the well-being of people in London and was Co-Chair of the Spirit of London Awards Select Committee in 2012 producing their biggest ever show at London’s 02 Arena. After completing a Masters in Sustainability & Management at Royal Holloway, University of London in 2012 she started Girls Talk London and began working for The Brokerage CityLink as a Senior Programme Manager. The 9th March 2015 issue of Look Magazine featured Vanessa as one of the most inspiring women in the UK and in June 2015 She was named as one of 67 Changemakers in the UK at The Southbank Centre as part of their annual Festival of Love. During the same month she was also invited to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In December 2015, Vanessa was nominated for a Digital-IS award for Best Online Presenter.
VS: I try my best to wake up early although I have to admit I am not a morning person and it is always a struggle! If I am working from home then I wake up at around 7:30am and am at my desk by 8:00am. I have a ritual every morning that I brew my favourite coffee and drink this before I can even think about doing anything. I then check online for any news and read my favourite business blogs( inc.com or fastcompany.com) to get my mind clear. If I go to my office which is a 1.5 hour journey as I live in Kent and it is in London then I get into work around 10am. I usually go into the office if I need to work with my team or have meetings. My day usually ends very late around 8pm I stop working.
VS: The coffee ritual is one and also I try my best to exercise whether that is going for a walk or talking a ride class at Rebel. I also have Sundays off always and that is where I sleep in, watch my favourite TV shows, meditate and get ready for the week. Sunday’s are always amazing and relaxing for me.
VS: I have run 2 businesses since 2008 and the previous one failed because I did not really have a proper revenue model in place so the major change with my current one is that I have created multiple streams of income and am clear about these channels and who the customers are.
VS: Funding! This is always an issue, it is hard to keep up sales and also to grow and get a bigger team. Sourcing funding and clients is always a long process in the social entrepreneurship space and the time it takes to write bid after bid as well as continuing to deliver well on your current programmes with your clients. The major challenge is time, resource and funds.
VS: Innovation for me is a word I feel gets used too much and nobody really knows what it means! To me innovation means doing things differently but to be honest I prefer to do things simply and be the best at it. If you get caught up in trying to be innovative you may miss the mark on what your business is there to do.
VS: Dreaming big is realistic to me. I think if you don’t dream big then why sacrifice everything for something small?
VS: Bills! LOL that is honestly the truth. The fact that I have responsibilities means I have no choice but to keep going and working hard. If I don’t put 100% in my business then that means no income. It all depends on me so you have to get up and keep going.
VS: Slightly, I have more emphasis on success meaning fulfillment and happiness and about experiences rather than material things.RB: What would you say is the most important skill required to run a business?
VS: Determination and perseverance because it is bloody tough!
RB: There are a lot of myths about entrepreneurs. Now that you have started and are successfully running your own business what would you say is the biggest myth? What have you learned most from it.
VS: That you will be living a life on a yacht because you have all this time in the world. Running your own business is a 24/7 job with long hours and not immediate results. Too many Instagram Memes that lie and make you think being an entrepreneur is a carefree life.