In our latest edition of Julius Baer’s True Connections podcast, Calum Brewster, Managing Director at Julius Baer UK, speaks with Robyn Scott, Co-Founder and CEO of Apolitical – the global learning platform for government used by tens of thousands of government officials in 170 countries – about her journey as an entrepreneur, the challenges female entrepreneurs face and her take on the current Coronavirus pandemic.
Listen to the podcast
Click on the player below to hear Calum and Robyn’s conversation:
We spoke with Robyn shortly after the UK introduced the social distancing measures seen across Europe in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in her team of 30 colleagues suddenly all working remotely. But, as Robyn says, it is times like these that show the criticality of principled and well informed leadership. Good leadership can be the difference in keeping livelihoods – and indeed lives – protected.
This pandemic has also thrown the lack of inter-government sharing into the spotlight and the importance of how beneficial this can be when it works well – which is the purpose of Robyn’s business, Apolitical. The platform is designed for any public servant, anywhere in the world to find and share what is working around our increasingly common global challenges - of which the Coronavirus is the epitome right now.
But before founding Apolitical - even in her early childhood - Robyn was showing signs of real entrepreneurship and problem solving. At the age of nine, having asked her parents for a horse-riding saddle and being told she can have one if she contributes to it, Robyn got the chance to show off her entrepreneurial spirit. Robyn’s idea was to rescue some chickens and sell their eggs - and it worked. That first leap into entrepreneurship ended up being the title for Robyn’s acclaimed memoir – Twenty Chickens for a Saddle.
It was that book that gave Robyn the capital to start her first for-profit business, OneLeap, an executive education company, as well as two Southern African not-for-profits, both of which focused on providing income generation skills to those that needed it most. That theme of education has run closely alongside Robyn since her home-schooling in Botswana, her time at Cambridge university, and into her career as an entrepreneur.
Robyn’s goal for the next business was to create a wider positive impact on the world by moving further upstream and solve the causes of problems rather than their consequences. This is what brought Robyn to combining that passion for education with government – and so Apolitical was founded.
In building her talent pool for Apolitical, Robyn’s core belief was that her colleagues (as well as her investors) should be ‘mission-driven’. And that, perhaps coincidentally, resulted in an all-female Executive Board at Apolitical, which in turn led to an influx of highly skilled engineers joining the company looking to escape the “macho” companies they were in.
But running a female-lead company in technology does come with its own challenges. Click the player above to hear more about Robyn’s journey as an entrepreneur.
Having a good idea is one thing. Pushing through and implementing it is another. We portray entrepreneurs who share their personal stories and reflect on lessons learnt.