WOMEN ACHIEVERS: Pinky Lilani “I think the key challenge is always to be innovative and to take a fresh approach, since it is so easy to repeat a formula that has worked”

Our women achiever this week is founder and CEO of Women of the Future Ltd and the Asian Women of Achievement Awards. She is a food guru, author, motivational speaker and internationally acclaimed champion for women. She organises a number of awards recognising influential women and leaders and also sits on the advisory boards of Global Diversity Practice and Sapphire Partners. She is a patron of Frank Water, a charity that partners grassroots organisations in India to provide safe water and is a British Red Cross Tiffany Circle Ambassador, a powerful group of women leaders and philanthropists.

In 2006, she was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the CBI First Women Awards.

In 2012, she was named as Woman Entrepreneur of the Year at the Indus Entrepreneurs UK Gala Awards. Our achiever was listed on the BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour Power List of 100 most powerful women in the UK in 2013. She was awarded an OBE in the 2007 New Year Honours for services to charity and a CBE in the Birthday Honours 2015 for services to women in business. Meet Nusrat Pinky Lilani, CBE.

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
I spend most of my time running the Women of the Future Ltd, which includes the Asian Women of Achievement Awards, the Women of the Future Awards, the Women of the Future Network, the Women of the Future Ambassadors Programme and the Women of the Future Summit. I founded the Asian Women of Achievement Awards and Women of the Future to recognise and support the talented and inspiring women we have in the UK. I’m thrilled that we’ve celebrated the 2017 Asian Women of Achievement Awards in May. Alongside my work at Women of the Future Ltd., I also spend my time giving talks and working with several charities.

I have a very close family set up and at the heart of everything I do is my family – my husband, sons, mother and siblings. I now have a granddaughter who is 15 months and I spend a lot of time looking at videos of her as she lives in Singapore.

If you could describe your journey in one sentence what would it be?
Full of surprises but always interesting.

You wear several hat’s; do you find keeping a balance challenging?
I love the variety of what I do and I enjoy jumping from one thing to another. However, I have read that multitasking apparently increases the time you take to do the different things, and that it would be better to do one thing at a time. So maybe I am not doing it right! Life is full of challenges, but I love what I do and if I don’t get the balance right, there’s always the opportunity to start again.

How do you decide what you want to focus your time on?
It’s about keeping my overall vision in mind and staying true to this. The things that are important on my journey take precedence over the things that are not. However, it’s also important to focus my time on the things I enjoy.

What’s the most difficult challenge you have faced within any of your organisations and how have you overcome it?
I think the key challenge is always to be innovative and to take a fresh approach, since it is so easy to repeat a formula that has worked. Getting the finances right, including getting sponsorship, is always important and at the heart of any good business, but we have overcome this challenge by building strong relationships across our network.

What or who has been your greatest influence in your work and why?
The greatest influence has been all the inspirational people I have met through the Asian Women of Achievement and Women of the Future Awards – their achievements, warmth and kindness makes me want to work harder to give them a platform.

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
One of my greatest achievements is my journey from starting from scratch and teaching myself to cook, which lead to the publication of my first book, “Spice Magic”.  Another great personal and professional accomplishment has been learning to speak in public, which was so terrifying in the beginning.

What one thing have you learned through your career that has served you well over the years?
The importance of hard work, integrity and humility.

Finally, what’s the best advice you have received in your career that you wish to pass on to our readers.
Always be yourself and be kind.

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