The woman behind the Diva… Alison Charles

Why Diva on a Harley?

I had always wanted a motorcycle.  No surprise really as my Dad had driven me around the park sitting on the tank of his BMW motorbike before I could walk and Mum had been a pillion all through her pregnancy.  Not being able to touch the floor though I did not actually pass my test until much later in life, when manufacturers finally realised “Women Ride Bikes Too!”.

When it came to choosing my business name I was going through the usual names but it was only through a conversation with my marketing coach, talking about the brand new Harley Davidson that a kernel of an idea began to form.  “There is a great business name in there somewhere” said Barnaby. The excitement was palpable.  I had waited for this moment for decades and now it was finally reality, the brand new shiny Harley Davidson was mine and just perhaps it could be part of my business brand too.

It was whilst sitting in the Royal Albert Hall singing with a choir that I had the lightbulb moment.  I love to sing Opera.  In that moment Diva on a Harley became a reality.  Just one small hitch, I had not actually passed my test yet for the bigger bike.  No pressure!!

So even though I couldn’t touch the floor on the test motorcycle and had come off twice already, I was not about to let something as insignificant as being vertically challenged stop me, oh no. With the unknown in sight, I griped the handle bars once again, took another breath and kicked into gear.  Starting a new business was not dissimilar!!

I am a regular speaker at conferences, events and networking groups. I am passionate about inspiring people to think about their own mental health challenges and how they might overcome them. I love to sing too so you might catch me on occasion around London singing with a choir or two. 

Military and Corporate Business Woman

I started my career in the British Army in the Intelligence Corp. It is a high stress high reward environment.  Unfortunately, after just a few short years, I sustained an injury and my career dreams were in tatters so I had to rethink my whole strategy.

Moving into large corporate, the likes of Hambros Bank and latterly Shell International UK, my experience is borne from a 30 year career providing large scale global solutions for Learning and Development, Corporate Wellbing, HR and Finance.  The skills that are core to the role are Programme Management, Transformation and Change Management and Organisational Development. I had to be able to communicate with every level of the organisation I was working for.

A passionate career woman, I pushed myself hard and had high personal standards. By 2011, when various family members got sick and pressure mounted in my private life as well as at work, I suffered from stress to the point of having to take some time out.  Life had not prepared me for this and for ages I was in denial.  I had no coping strategies at that time and had to rebuild from the ground up. I am stronger than I was before; I know how to ensure it never happens again.

I researched, studied and grew as an individual. When I was ready I started my own business and am passionate about helping companies understand how their decisions, changes and values can either hinder or help their own business community.  Investing in the right learning and development programme alongside having a clear company wellness strategy can reduce absenteeism, help attract and retain the right staff and be part of the package that make staff want to go that extra mile.

What I am all about now is…

I have changed direction in my career a couple of times now and I have learned to embrace change and all the opportunities that come along with it.  I have helped companies do the same using my 30 years experience gained with a variety of military, government and large corporate organisations.  I have lived through mental illness and not only survived but thrived to tell the tale.  I specialise in helping companies put emotional wellbeing and good mental health at the top of their agenda.

Philanthropist

I dedicate a lot of my time to Soroptimist International, a global not for profit organisation.  There are nearly 80,000 Soroptimists worldwide, the majority of whom belong to their local Club, where they can make friends with like-minded women, have fun and work on projects that help improve the lives of women and girls locally, nationally and internationally.  I am currently London Anglia Region President and am a member of the East London Club, where we are passionate about education.  As a Soroptimist I am mentoring at the Luminary Bakery and am expecting to give a talk to them soon about emotional wellbeing.  I also love supporting the Kori project as I can get out the knitting needles or crochet hooks and make things that make a massive difference to the people in the region, or I can indulge my latest development area, which is learning to sew, and make discreet reusable sanitary towels for the girls.  If you want to know more about the Region or club in your area in the UK take a look here Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland.  If you are ever in East London and want to visit the club then drop me an email and I will let you have the meeting details.

If you are outside the UK and you want to know more about that organisation have a look here Soroptimist International

Inspiring speaker…Diva!

I was one of the shyest children you could ever meet.  As an only child I was also very happy in my own company and did not have a massive amount of motivation to be anything other than introvert.  It was only later, in the military that I needed to be able to stand in front of an audience.  I learnt to deal with it and became very efficient at being in front of an audience.  It took me another 2 decades to really love it.  Now I am happy talking to an audience of two or three people to audiences of thousands.  I love my career!

Get in touch now

020 3290 2157 or 07768 493157

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