Carolyn Baguma Allen
Carolyn Baguma Allen is a learning architect and the Founder of Amulinde Consulting. She has been working in the leadership and development and inclusion space for over 10 years, working as Consultant, Director, Strategist and Facilitator.
She considers herself a multipotentialite because she wears many hats, including Researcher, Mentor and Artist.
Throughout her career, she has relished the opportunities to develop different skills that allow her to be able to be involved in all aspects of the process from conception to delivery.
In addition, she has remained passionate about working with and supporting young people, either in group learning environments or 121 capacity.
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
I was born in Kenya to Ugandan parents, and we moved to the UK when I was 6. I am the oldest of 7 kids, with the youngest being 18.
I have very little memories of my younger years, but my father tells me I spoke confidently all the Ugandan languages and English by the time I was 2. I know I was blessed to be surrounded by my aunties, uncles, and cousins….so I had a lot of family to talk to. Sadly, my parents stopped speaking to us in our mother tongue at the recommendation of one of my teachers.
I am very close to my sisters and brothers, and I always remember the mischief (and damage) I would get up to. We always had each other’s backs…even when we were in trouble.
I don’t remember being fond of school because I didn’t have confidence in my ability, yet had a lot of expectations from home to deal with, and also just encountered racist moments that were part of growing up in the UK.
I had started doing art at the age of 11 and decided that was what I was naturally good at, so it felt like the most realistic career option….It was something that I could have a future in. I think I had already internalized that I wasn’t very “book” smart.
I was exposed to different people during my early years…My primary school was predominantly white, my secondary majority muslim and my college predominantly black.
My parents separated when I was 15, so I had to grow up fast to support my mum who struggled without my Dad support. I got my first job that same year and started earning money to help out.I had to step up without my Dad there full time….that was very much the expectation. This made me very protective of my siblings in an almost mother like way.
Looking back at my emotional wellbeing between 14 and 17, I had moments of depression that I really didn’t get support for, including definite body dysmorphia.
By the time I was 16, I realized I didn’t fit anyone’s version or idea of me, yet I was constantly having to validate myself everywhere I went. This was evident when I visited Uganda for the first time since leaving, when I was told I was more British than Ugandan.
Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.
The first has to be Camp America – working in the east coast of the USA. I was a camp counsellor and watersports instructor for around 6 months.
This was my first independent trip, and the opportunity came to me when I was really low and just needed to feel that there was more to this world than my world in east London. I actually considered east London the whole of London.
I took a gap year between college and art school to travel and work. To my fathers dismay, he didn’t believe I would continue education after that year.
This experience was so powerful to me, because not only did I get to be this force for good for 11 – 16 y/o I lived and worked with…But I proved to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to….and that travelling is amazing! So amazing that I proved my father correct and although I returned to the UK to start art school, it was not long before I realized that I needed to find out more about who I am….even just for my art. I quit art school 6 months in and continued to travel and work abroad for the next 3 years.
Another major turning point in my professional career is moving from B2B to the charity sector.
After working in Marketing and Income generation, I realized that I didn’t enjoy the stress that comes from working in these spaces and that I felt very little fulfillment after every milestone.
I knew I had valuable skills, I just wanted to use them in more purposeful spaces.
I knew that fancy work events and a good paycheck wasn’t going to be enough to be fulfilling to me long term.This was when I became a freelancer and worked on projects with PDSA, Victim Support and Shelter UK.
This move to work more independently set the foundation for me eventually setting up my own business.
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea that made you start this brand? How did such a unique idea strike you, and what motivated you to “YES, go for it?”
When I started working with Duke Corporate Education as Programme Manager, I recognized that the most powerful takeaways for the participants on the programmes was what they learned about themselves and others. I was surprised to see MDs of F100 inspired by the personal journeys they would share in sessions.
I realized then that these were valuable learning that young people could benefit from.
Like the quote….
Teach the young what you learned late…
I wanted to create more learning spaces like this for young people, and not only work with adults.
The same year I incorporated my company, I committed to do some work with young people every year and even worked on NCS programmes as a mentor, cohort manager and programme manager for a number of years up until 2019.
In addition, I trained as a personal performance coach and coached clients in Australia, Canada and Europe. Honing my 1-2-1 intervention experience.
Lastly, a colleague I worked with who went on to be a Director at the Financial times led me down the path of facilitation when he suggested I would be a great classroom facilitator.
So I found my industry, found my skill that would get me deeper into the industry and finally felt I had a purpose that aligned with who I was.
Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?
This year I will be launching a course on Race and Neurodiversity in partnership with Diversity and Ability.
I designed a three day course for practitioners that work in education mainly, to help them understand the challenges facing Neurodiverse marginalised individuals. This will allow me to have a profound impact on how service providers support these individuals and hopefully remove some of the barriers and misconception.
Alongside this work, I will continue to deliver inclusion training for Diversity and Ability’s clients, such as UN World Food Programme, National Health Service, Transport for London and many more.
I have also joined the WERKIN team as their People Experience Lead, giving me the opportunity to shape the learners journey and experience.
This is a great opportunity to work with a female lead organisation that has mentoring at the heart of the work they do.
Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?
Initial challenge is learning how to attract business – you need to be clear about who aligned with your values and how to work with them.
I tried to be one thing at the beginning and realised I was limiting myself and my opportunities, so I started to explore work and roles that would challenge me and help me grow as a consultant. Because of this, I developed new relationships and skills that enabled me to diversify how I work.
Additionally, learning to know my value and not settling. It’s easy to be insecure when the bill needs to be paid, but this can mean that people take advantage and do not value your input. Learning to walk away from opportunities that do not serve me and the future and working towards….sometimes that means leaving money on the table.
I think that it’s important to find your communities and spaces where your values are aligned. This is where you can find like minded people to share ideas and resources with and not have to feel all alone.
Diversifying your work – don’t restrict yourself and be open to learning and using different skills. This allows you to be able to pursue different opportunities and bring in money.
If you do this well, you will get to a point where you can work on projects you care about without worrying about the money….but more about the impact.
Constantly re-evalute the work and the relationships in your business. If the only reason you have this work or relationship is money, that’s not sustainable.
Ask yourself, how does this contribute to the long term? Is this aligned with my values?
Don’t worry if people don’t get what you do, especially us multipotentialites. It’s important that you get it and surround yourself with like minded people.
Sometimes this journey is lonely, but it doest have to be and you don’t have to go on the journey with everyone.
You will be miserable focusing on what people think.
Utilise technology! From time management to Taxes. There are so many free tools and platforms that entrepreneurs can use to get started, but don’t be afraid to spend money on important services.
I have worked with the same accountant since I started my business and it’s great to have someone that deals with accounting – gives me the piece of mind and one less thing to have to do on my own.
While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?
Well at the start of the pandemic, I had just had a sabbatical with my now husband. We spent 4 months working and travelling across east Africa.
We landed in the UK about 3 weeks before lockdown, so we went from bird like freedom, to feeling like we were caged up.
The UK was a little lax in response, but I knew that as someone whose job is to deliver workshops in front of a room of people, that I wouldmt be able to work.
First thing I did was buy tons of art supplies! I knew that all the projects in the pipeland were on hold and I knew that my mental health would struggle.
So I painted for close to a year and it was the first time I had a chance to do so much art since I was 19.
I decided to enjoy having the opportunity to do so much art and even started an Instagram page and art page to sell my art. I was commissioned to do bespoke pieces and even exhibited at a gallery in London (first time ever) I started the page after I realized that I have never shared my art with the world, and a lot of people that knew me, had no idea I had artistic abilities….to my surprise.
In addition, I took the opportunity to become a certified community researcher with Diversity resources international and published my first independent piece of research on Diaspora Womens Identity (Another first). I also curated and moderated an event in partnership with Lion-Art to discuss Female diaspora identity.
I also designed and delivered a workshop for Lon-Art members on building resistance with their artistry, the first time my world of professional and passion collided.
And lastly, delivered my first VIRTUAL workshop on Bis for Diversity and Ability – opening the door to virtual facilitation. I always assumed that It would be harder to have an impact in a virtual setting, but I realized how much more accessible it was and it solidified that the future for me was remote.
Art was my therapy and really helped deal with George Floyds death. His death made me reevaluate who I was working with and the equity. I realized that I needed to forge new relationships with organisations working with and for marginalized communities. I no longer wanted to work in spaces where I was the only one.
Although it was a scary time, it was a valuable experience that helped me solidify what I want for my future. I came out of it more confident about my artistry and committed to no side line this skill.
I had better and more exciting work opportunities and finally felt that I was valued for who I am.
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
- Joined Carnegie book club at secondary school and got to read and review Harry Potter on ITV
- Winning Miss Uganda UK 2001
- Working with young people at Camp America & Camp Beaumont
- Lead charity campaigns for PDSA, Victim Support, Shelter, Living Streets
- Launched Nase Africa in Kampala Uganda
- Designed and delivered bespoke workshops on Growth Mindset and Connecting offline for the young people on NCS programme.
- Delivered YAPPHA business branding and marketing workshop for female entrepreneurs in Tanzania
- Published independent research on Diaspora Identity
- Art exhibition with Holy Art
- Lead TWR Community programme – granting over 80K and developed free upskilling Toolkit
- Delivered Research projects – NHS Vaccines, WOL, Beatfreeks
- Designed D&A Course
- Lived in France, Italy and USA for over 6 months
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
When women can navigate the world with equity with men, Where our voice and independence is not a threat.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?
Life is a constant learning journey and we are stronger when we embrace learning.
True intelligence is how we adapt to change – not how we cram information.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do.
We all have value that we can add to this world.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women’s leadership today?
I think it’s hard when there’s only one of you at the top, I think we need to have a rule of 3, so it’s not all down to one person, because that’s a huge challenge.
I think leaders should always look back to see who they can bring with them. A true leader enables others to grow.
With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
You don’t have to have all the answers right now, but don’t shy away from asking yourself the hard and important questions that challenge you. You will be the better for it and you will attract the type of relationships that truly add value.