Alexie O’Brien is a businesswoman, entrepreneur and success coach passionate about fostering unique organisational cultures within growing dynamic businesses. We are delighted to announce Alexie will be sitting on our panel of successful entrepreneurs for the Young Business Hustler competition.

Here we interview Alexie to find out more about her career, achievements, motivations and her advice for our Young Business Hustlers!

Hi Alexie! Throughout your career, you have enjoyed enormous success in retail, manufacturing and banking, and you are now head of Australia and New Zealand at Kit & Ace. To achieve this success, you must have exemplary leadership skills. We see young people undertaking the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award develop their leadership skills every day. Do you think there is one key quality, which every great leader should possess?

Narrowing it down to one is tough.  Firstly, I think to be a great leader absolutely takes vision.  Vision to be able to see what is around the corner, to make decisions about what is next, sometimes with little information, sometimes with too much.  You have to know what to distill and what is missing in making decisions.  You have to be aware of what you don’t know and understand the risk and the consequences of a decision and then, make it.

Secondly, it takes courage to be a great leader.  People think that great leaders are fearless.  And I don’t think that is true.  They feel the fear – just like the rest of us.  They just make a choice to take action in spite of the fear, inspired by their vision and fueled by their courage.

And lastly I think to be a great leader – it is all about the people. Having compassion, and providing opportunities for people to learn and grow.  To help them face their fears, creating space for them to know that failing is a necessary part of growth and success. People will follow you because they have to – or they will join you because they are inspired and believe in what you are creating.

You have been a wonderful support and inspiration to women in the business world. We have so many amazing young women with great potential participating in our programs. What would be your advice to young women who are looking to start their own business or become an entrepreneur?

My advice to anyone starting their own business firstly is to really understand and be authentic to WHY you are wanting to have your own business.  A WHY that inspires you to get out of bed every single day and do whatever it takes to be successful. It is a hard road being an entrepreneur and there will be many bumps and pitfalls.  It will usually take more money, more time and more energy than you originally anticipated  to become successful – so staying really connected to why you are doing it in the first will help keep you on the path.  I think it also has to be bigger than money or just wanting to be your own boss.  Money may motivate, but to have a purpose that is bigger than that will keep you and others inspired to create what you are up to.

I think two other quick tips  – hire great people around you to do the things that you don’t do well and know your numbers.  Cashflow is imperative. If you aren’t a numbers person, take a course before you start to really understand what is going on.

 What do you believe is your greatest achievement in your life so far?

It may be clichéd but my greatest achievement is absolutely my marriage and my children.  At the end of the day we can’t take money, awards or titles with us.  I am not the perfect wife, I hate ironing and doing laundry, nor am I the coolest mum in the world.  I am human and I fall down – but the thing that means the most to me is the commitment we have to family, love and communication.  I am travelling a lot at the moment and the thing I appreciate about it is the realisation of how much I miss my family and they miss me when I am away.  To me having this bond and connection to my family is my greatest achievement.

What qualities did you develop in high school or as a young adult, which have helped you later in life?

Simply – Courage. Hard work and a desire to achieve.

We heard you’re a beekeeper! What can we learn from bees?

Well my husband is more the beekeeper than I am.  But there is a lot to learn about bees.  One of the things we can learn from bees is that they keep their eye on their goal from sun up to sundown, collecting pollen.  They don’t quit because they are tired, or it is hard, or they are bored.  And in this relentless pursuit of their goal, they actually unwittingly fulfil their life’s purpose, which is bigger than them – the act of cross pollination.  We need bees to survive.

We can also learn a lot about ourselves as humanity by bringing  awareness to what we are doing to the planet too.   From our choices in food and where it comes from, the pesticides that are used and how we are using bees in commercial agriculture that is actually harming their populations.  It is an important issue for us to bring awareness to and do something about.  This is why we got into bees.

To find out who the other panelists are for Young Business Hustler please check out the website: www.youngbusinesshustler.com

Young Business Hustler 2015 is a new competition for young entrepreneurs. Candidates will pitch their existing business or business idea to a panel of expert entrepreneurs, with two winners selected to receive 12 months of mentoring in the BIGthink! Baby Booster Program valued at $12,870 each.

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