In our True Connections Podcast, Alan Hooks speaks to entrepreneur, journalist and Co-Founder of EnterpriseAlumni, Emma Sinclair MBE. Her story starts with how the school-run with her father helped mould her passion for the stock market, her experience as the youngest person to take a company public, her UNICEF work, and what three things she stands by.
Listen to the podcast
Click on the player below to hear Alan and Emma’s conversation:
Emma’s exposure to financial markets started at a younger age than most and it’s clear that has led to a lifelong passion for stock markets. While Emma admits that it probably wasn’t until she was in her thirties that she realised the impact of the ‘guess the share price’ game she played with her father as a 4 year old on her way to school had made - considering her accomplishments, most famously being the youngest woman to take a company public, it’s clear that the impact was a good one.
Emma also credits her father with teaching her the art of “door knocking” - to this day, Emma still cold-calls and cold-emails prospective clients. Most business leaders will tell you that one of the key challenges of setting up a new business is finding and keeping customers. As Emma explains, those school runs with her father meant that she learnt the often difficult skill of building relationships with new people, which ultimately laid the foundations for her to build her businesses from scratch.
Often entrepreneurs will cite a lightbulb moment that drove them to start their first company but Emma’s story is slightly different. Emma explains that the ambition to run her own business was always there and it was a matter of circumstance rather than a grand idea that led her to found her first. In her mid-twenties with no family responsibilities, it was the right time to give it a go.
Advice given to her by her then boyfriend’s mother – who was an entrepreneur herself – before Emma started her first business was “the moment you hire somebody, you have politics”. The topic of surrounding yourself with the right people is often discussed by entrepreneurs in this podcast series and it’s interesting to hear Emma’s take on this. While Emma admits that managing people can be a challenge for all founders and managers, the trick is ensuring one’s recruitment style aligns with the business objectives you want to achieve. This is where technology can really help – making processes easier through digitalisation and automation so people can spend their time working on initiatives that count.
It’s no wonder then why Emma and her brother, James, founded their latest business, EnterpriseAlumni, which powers the alumni networks of major global corporations. The use of technology to help organisations tap into a regularly underused pool of individuals to help with their business objectives seems like a perfect fit for an entrepreneur who clearly sees that value in people.
This interest in people is also clear in Emma’s work with UNICEF. She cites her first trip with UNICEF to Zambia as the moment she realised the “universality of entrepreneurship”. There she met Kenneth, who’d received a $10 grant to buy seeds to plant fruit and vegetables in his garden, which he ultimately turned into a business. When asked by Emma why he continues to work 19-hour days despite having enough produce to sell, Kenneth said that he wanted to provide his children with the opportunities he didn’t have – the same response Emma suggests her own father would give if he were asked why he worked so hard. Ultimately, Emma explains, entrepreneurs are all the same.
To hear more about Emma’s fascinating story, please listen to the podcast player above.