AVA LAWLER

 

Founder & CEO

PEOPLE ORIENTED, RESULTS-DRIVEN

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What possibilities have you turned into reality?

I had the great fortune to live in South Africa the year after Nelson Mandela had been elected President. The country was transforming at every level and I was thrust into an opportunity to run Text100’s South African operation. I had never run a business before, so I was nervous, until my fears were quelled by the excitement of being asked to run the PR activity for Bill Gates’ first trip to South Africa, where he wanted to meet Nelson Mandela. This was at the time when Gates was at the centre of the Department of Justice inquiry in the US and only beginning to consider the power of the philanthropy he is known for today. To everyone's surprise Mandela initially declined to meet Gates. We politely pursued the resistance and discovered that Mandela was nervous to talk technology with the world’s richest computer geek! As a result we reframed the discussion and following the pair’s now famous meeting, Bill Gates became one of the biggest donors to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.  Mandela’s humility and humanity demonstrated that great leaders can be both compassionate and courageous. This courage unleashed momentum throughout the country as the conviction to change conquered old fears and built hope and a new reality.

What is your favourite quote?

We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.
— BILL GATES

People, planet or profits? Can you choose one over the other?

I do wholeheartedly believe in the power of people to make a difference. But I think you need your people and your purpose-led ambitions to be in synch to deliver profits. If you care about the planet we live on, then it’s natural that you care about people who will make sure the right processes and business systems are in place to deliver profits. There’s no mission without money, so it has to work together.

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