We are celebrating International Women’s Day by shining the spotlight on Minx Consulting's very own Sophia Ali. Her story is an inspirational one, from breaking free of stereotypes to running her own company. It’s a quite a journey……
Minx Consulting is one year old. What made you start Minx?
My parents bought a family business, an off licence, when I was 10 so I guess running my own company was something I always imagined I would end up doing. I’d been doing contract roles for a number of years, so in some ways it was the natural progression to set up my own consultating company.
You are working in a male dominated industry, can you give examples and what it was like to be a woman there.
I have 3 younger brothers so I probably never was a girly girl. BMX’s, getting muddy playing hockey and fixing cars were more fun when I was growing up. As a kid, I would describe myself as a bit of a bossy boots, girl power had not yet been invented in 1970’s Yorkshire, so I guess I was a head of my time!!! My first job real job was my graduate placement with Baird Menswear Brands manufacturing tailored menswear in the North East of England, so after measuring inside leg measurements one whole summer in the 90’s, working with men just became the norm. I’ve always found it easier to be in male company, I think the same way as a man which I guess is as a result of spending a lot of time growing up with my dad and granddad as a kid, strong characters who encouraged and inspired me to break free from the stereotypes that I grew up with. I remember my doctor once giving me some career advice to not become a doctor, lawyer or accountant, so I guess I took that to heart as a kid and looked to be different in my career choices and working in male dominated industries and jobs became the norm for me.
Has being a woman set you back or been an advantage in you career?
Not at all, I think it’s given me an advantage to be a woman and as an Asian one in a male dominated world, I’ve stood out from the crowd. I started my working career in the North East of England, working for a female Factory Manager in the Clothing industry, so I guess I thought it was normal for women to have empowered roles, managing people and processes.
What advice would you give other women to be successful in their career? Or do you have a motto to live life by?
Find a boss that inspires you and believes in you!!! I was very lucky I had several male bosses and work colleagues who believed in me and gave me jobs and responsibilities way beyond my age. As a woman you need to also stand your ground and ensure that you get paid equally if not more than you male counterparts. Finally, ensure you have a work/home life balance, I’m a workaholic, but it not something I expect from my staff or my extended team of associates and consultants, genuine dedication and integrity is more important that the hours that you put into a job.
Are you part of any women only networking events?
I have recently joined a local networking group which happens to be predominately women in South Yorkshire, it’s a great environment to do business. I am also a Women in Logistics UK member and attend a number of business events to support women in South Yorkshire. Women do business differently from men, they plan more and take less risks, creating a different work environment.
You work with quite a few charities can you tell us about them?
I was always brought up to respect my elders and support young people, so I have a soft spot and love of older people and the under 25’s. My dad always helped the elderly and inspired youngsters in the community when he ran our family off licence in Huddersfield, so I guess I’ve picked up the batton, so to speak, from him. Minx Consulting support local charity Valley React, based in Stocksbridge who work with local elderly people getting them involved in activities which get them out and about, Barnsley Hospice, St John Ambulance & Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice. We even support an amazing U12’s Rugby team in Hull!!!! I have a vision to eventually create a charitable arm to Minx Consulting, headed up by my trusted dog character, Minxy, with Minxy telling the tails of what the charity is up to and how we are helping the community, but as the saying goes ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’.