Angela is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and mother to three children. She has a background in Private Equity and Financial Services and has consulted for both Bloomberg and the Financial Times. Additionally, she has experience in art curation and has worked with Alexander Ochs Gallery in Beijing, China. Angela has a Bsc in Banking and International Finance from CASS Business School, a Masters in Arts of China from Christie’s Further Education and has also completed the Bar Course at a BPP University.
You have a multitude of qualifications and
a background in Private Equity, Financial services and art curation. Where does your passion for education and women’s economic empowerment derive from?
My father was a colonel in the Soviet Army serving in the air forces. We often lived within military bases. As a little girl I saw how the young pilots were trained, their routines, their camaraderie. My biggest regret is that I could never join the army or become a pilot for a simple reason - being born a girl.
In general, I knew my choices and paths to success were limited. This was the early understanding of unfairness of gender roles. There were many to come later - the financial industry is notorious for being male dominated, with women often being paid less or not being promoted to top roles. However, I have had some brilliant role models during my career, for example Joy Seppala , the founder and the CEO of the hedge fund SISU Capital where I worked. I am thrilled that the mind sets are shifting and the industry is finally making a progress in gender diversity and inclusivity.
My passion for the equality of choices in life is not limited to gender roles. I feel strongly that all human beings should have equal and fundamental right to access education and health services at the very least.
This is why after having my two children and having experienced the infinite, unconditional love for them, I could not bear the thought that there are many children, particularly in the developing world, who are deprived not only of parental love but of an opportunity to learn, become, create, fully contribute to the society and eventually give back. I felt compelled to offer life choices and give my love to at least one such child, and found my youngest son in the orphanage in Sakhalin. He completed my family and is a confident, curious and joyful little chap.
This is where economic empowerment of women kicks. When women earn their living they can afford education for their children and to look after their families, give back to their communities, and as a result, economies and countries prosper and everyone benefits. It is essential for women, half of the planet’s human population, to have rights to education, access to markets and networks and be taken as men’s equals, the rights that they are too often denied.
As a philanthropist, you work with many organisations and have recently been volunteering at London Hospitals. Please can you tell us about this experience and why do you think it is so important to give back as part of our own legacies?
It seems to me that the recent pandemic highlighted some of the faults within our
modern society. We often believe that success and fulfilment in life is measured in accumulation of material and financial possessions.
The emphasis is placed on individuals to compete with one another to climb to the top, to be recognised and respected. In the process, the individuals become isolated and not integrated in communities. As social animals, humans inherently enjoy company, understanding and support of others. The very thing that makes us happy and brings us joy, the connection with one another, is not recognised as important as becoming more powerful as individuals. I started volunteering in London hospitals at the beginning of the pandemic and have witnessed how many people so often feel so lonely. In fact, I would say that there is an epidemic of loneliness and disconnection, and not only within the elderly population.
During the pandemic we suddenly realised the importance of the individuals who make our daily life comfortable, the delivery drivers, the teachers and the nurses. Although being the key contributors to the functioning of our society, they are not given the much deserved respect or admiration. Their social status is reflected through poor pay.
I believe the attitude in what we value and who we appreciate has to be shifted. Due to volunteering in the London hospitals for extensive hours throughout the pandemic, I was able to apply for a Master degree in Nursing at the King’s College and have just completed my first year.
I have been on the hospital wards as one of the nurses and have seen just how hard they work and how often they go an extra mile by just showing kindness to their patients. I am in awe of the nurses I meet and of how selfless and giving many of them are.
Of course, I have been very privileged and have had a choice to either work, or study, or volunteer, at any point in my life but this privileged position gave me not only an opportunity but an obligation to learn, explore and give back. I truly believe that if we all had this drive to give back to others, to look after each other and were taught these values through school and within communities, then we would become much happier as a society.
The key professions would be recognised and valued and the loneliness would be alleviated. This would shift the emphasis to being happy rather than being "successful". To strive to give back should be everyone’s legacy.
You are the European Chair of the 100,000 Women Campaign within the Cherie Blair Foundation. What is the vision and mission?
The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women helps to advance the potential of women entrepreneurs in low and middle income countries, and additionally close the global gender gap in entrepreneurship.
If women entrepreneurs secure equal access to the knowledge, skills and resources more readily available to men, we will see the economic uplift societies desperately need, as well as important progress towards gender equality and a fairer world.
Our vision is for every woman and girl to enjoy equal economic opportunities so that they can live to their full potential. At the current rate of progress it will take over 250 years to close the economic gender gap completely. That simply is not good enough.
So, our mission is to empower women to start, grow and sustain successful businesses, so that they can redefine the future for themselves and their societies.
How can companies and individuals get involved?
The best way to support our crucial mission,
100,000 Women Campaign, is to donate online: https://cherieblairfoundation.org/programmes/campaign/
This allows us to direct the funds to where there is the greatest need, and create the most value.
Corporates can also join our ‘Mentoring Women in Business programme’ as mentors, and will develop their own leadership and business skills whilst developing the skills and knowledge of women entrepreneurs in low and middle income countries. Likewise, if you are wanting to join as an individual, you can self-fund your own place on the programme as a mentor.
You can also sponsor our upcoming summit on negative gender stereotypes. This is already garnering the support of many key players around the world and is not to be missed!
Designers can support our upcoming fashion auction by donating items of clothing and accessories, and you can join our auction as an attendee and bid for these beautiful items!
Additionally, you can ask to learn more about joining our Global Campaign Board and see if you might be well placed to join as a Regional Chair, Advisor, Ambassador or Board Member. It is a fantastic community of men and women, philanthropists and business leaders, who have all joined together to help increase the presence and reach of the Foundation on a global scale.
You have incredible fashion sense, are there designers or certain styles that you wear that make you feel empowered?
I embrace my femininity, notwithstanding of being a feminist. I love seeing the expression of beauty in any shape or form. Femininity and sexuality are just some of such expressions. I feel empowered when I feel feminine.
For me, women represent a force of nature, they are the nurturers, they are the loving givers, they know how to "feel". I believe my fashion sense is very much in tune with these statements. I also love statement pieces, they give me confidence, they draw attention and say that I have an opinion and that I am happy to express it. This could be colours, sharp lines or accessories. I do have some favourite designers, simply because their cuts suit me, but above all the style must be elegant.
What does the word Legacy mean to you?
To me, Legacy is the impact one has had on others. It can mean different things to different people. It can be hard, honest work of a worker, it can be love of a loving and caring grandparent, it can be devastation of an evil dictator!
It is important to me that my children adopt my values in life. I want them to understand that it would be small minded of them to solely focus on their own success and achievements, that it is important to be driven by passions rather than material gains, that even the smallest of actions or words matter and have an impact on many levels.
I want them to be guided by kindness and compassion and, of course, I understand I have to teach them by example and this adds to the legacy that I would like to leave.