Lime interview - Community & Support
EDITOR - Vernia Mengot
In business you have to do what you say you are able to do and if you can’t do it find someone who can
Ronke currently holds the position as a vibrant chamber and runs her own business; RSL management that was set up in 2004. A truly positive and inspirational lady, Ronke’s main ethos is integrity and flexibility. Growing up in Hackney, east London her life now is far from the deprived childhood she once had. After some risky adventures and life changing decisions she has made her mark in business.
Talk to me about how important education was for you, growing up?
It was the base and foundation of my life. We grew up in a council estate. Being of Nigerian origin, it was always education; the path was already set. I think it comes down to discipline and my parents keeping us focused.
How did your interests develop in a career involving marketing management and business?
I’ve always loved business from an early age. I remember writing down a list of what I wanted to accomplish. When I was younger I used to make friendship bracelets and sell them. In school, business enterprise isn’t taught. You have to have that installed inside yourself, there wasn’t anyone in my family who said take that risk. I was offered a management position for a health and fitness company, it was a completely different sector; all about sales. But I still had that burning desire. I became friends with a lady who had a business plan involving beauty. I used my education and my common sense. That was my first client. So I quit my job and started my business from scratch with no funding, just savings and in a couple of months I got another big, big client. The work thing didn’t work for me so I created a job myself.
In 2005 you became a Business Partner for The Simone Williams fashion label, tell us about that experience for you...
We grew up on the same estate. We lost touch when she went to a different secondary school. We hadn’t seen each other for 10 years. When I came back from university, we met up and she bought her portfolio. I saw she was so talented, then I thought let me see what I can do to help. I offered to invest and put money into her business if we could become partners. It was an interesting industry to work in.
Throughout your career journey, what has been your biggest challenge?
The big challenge was overcoming my own insecurity; my own self belief. I limited my own growth. The obvious would be limited finance and not knowing where to go. Trying to build my business based on me was quite challenging.
In 2011 you were appointed the non-executive director of The Hoxton Apprentice, a Charity Restaurant, what does that involve?
I’m on the board of directors; it’s close to my heart, as it’s in Hackney where I grew up. And the ethos is to help people who are struggling or deemed as hopeless. The charity gives them hope.
You were also presented with an award for ‘Inspiring Leadership’ at the Fifth Annual Precious Awards. How amazing does that feel?
That was based around the work at the Chamber of Commerce and my business. It was a complete and utter shock. I was humbled to be honoured in that way, everyone was so pleased and I’m forever grateful.
Your current job sees you as CEO of the Islington Chamber of Commerce. It sounds like a very demanding role, it could even be seen as a male dominated area to work in, how do you do it?
It literally was six months until they closed it. I almost gave myself a job. It has been amazing. The majority are men and they are white European. I don’t fit the profile, but overall I try not to let it bother me. A lot of people underestimated my role there. It doesn’t matter where you come from you can still do the best.
THE GODDESS ISSUE
What’s so fabulous about being a woman?
There is something so gentle about women, something gentle in our core. You’ll always find something within women that we can relate to and were prettier than men. [Laughs]
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