No Plan B! - Magdalene Adenaike FRSA

Impossible is only impossible when I fail to admit that I AM POSSIBLE - Magdalene Adenaike FRSA

Founder/CEO - Music Relief Foundation. Over ten years' experience running a youth charity, passionate about making changes in people's lives by influencing the government, businesses, and educators on issues of youth culture and culture in business.

What made you decide to become a CEO?

Starting over ten years ago, I had no idea what a CEO even was, and now here I am the CEO of my own charity! Becoming a CEO was just an evolution from following my own passions and experiences as a teenage mother and at the time only having music as my refuge, so, after completing my degree I launched into Music Relief Foundation (MRF), my charity and I have grown together.

As a black female CEO, what has been the most significant barrier in your career? How did you overcome it?

Raising my family and balancing that with my career over the past ten years, I have four children, and my fourth child was born when I started my career journey.

I overcome this by surrounding myself with a strong personal support network, but also really utilising my spare hours to its fullest, lots of back-to-back meetings and then committing equal effort to my family time and my own personal care, it is important to have clear cut boundaries.  

Do you see many other black individuals at your level, and if not, why do you think this is?

I am now seeing more black individuals at my level, and this I feel is because many of us have realised that the glass ceiling is only a deterrent if we want it to be. Impossible is only impossible when I fail to admit that I AM POSSIBLE.

What is a leadership lesson that you have learnt that is unique to being a black female leader?

The ability to empathise with the team. My own diverse life experiences as a black parent and leader allows for me to connect with people and empathise without the barriers of ego that you tend to find at my level.

I am fluent in reading between the lines.

Define a great leader—what are some traits you think great leaders possess?

Never go into a situation with a ‘one glove fits all’ mentality, be flexible, adaptable and be ready for the tears.

Empathy, patience, trust, reliable, driven and goal-orientated.

What advice would you give to someone at the initial stages of their career?

Be resilient and although it is vital to be organised, be ready to adapt and re-evaluate when things do not go to plan, because people will let you down and disappoint you - that is a part of life.

Which is why it is so important to believe in yourself and be your own cheerleader always.

Who inspired you to get to where you are today, and why?

My mum (RIP) and two gospel artists. I remember watching an interview of theirs in 2012 when the interviewer asked them, if they were not singing, what else would they be doing? They looked directly into the camera, and said ‘there was no plan B’.

That was massive for me because, at that time, I had people telling me to go back to the corporate world. Why am I trying to run a charity? And that interview inspired me to do it - I said to myself - Money or no money, rain or no rain, sun or no sun, WE ARE DOING THIS!  I always speak to myself like this and frequently walk around with headphones in my ears so that people think I am listening to something, but I am not; I am just talking to myself.

How do you manage self-doubt? Do you have any tips for someone dealing with self-doubt?

Block it out and let your own mantras be the loudest! Celebrate your wins, no matter how small, even if it is as small as that one person writing you a linked recommendation, that is one person that sees value in you!

Finally, we are about to kick off DNI book club, what book most influenced you (career or personal), that you would recommend ‘we’ read.

The Bible (even if you are not a Christian there are a lot of teachings, lessons in there that can be applied to all parts of life)

Royal Navy Way of Leadership - looking at how we can relate navy principles to everyday life, remarkably interesting!

Magdalene Adenaike is the Founder/CEO - Music Relief Foundation. She has over ten years' experience running a youth charity, passionate about making changes in people's lives by influencing the government, businesses, and educators on issues of youth culture and culture in business. You can find out more about her and MRF at https://music-relief.org/

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