Dr Yvette Ankrah

Dr Yvette Ankrah MBE is a transformational coach, consultant and trainer.  She tells us that, “I primarily work with high-achieving women to get success without burnout. I am passionate about ensuring people have the optimum environment, tools and skills to thrive. I believe that this starts from the inside and works in a way which builds sustainable and profitable businesses/careers without overwhelm, stress and burnout.”

What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your professional journey/venture/initiative and what inspired you to choose this career.

I am the child of Ghanaian migrants who came to the UK in the 1960s. I come from a large extended family and am one of four children.  I grew up in North London on a Council estate and went to local schools before heading off to university to study Journalism and Psychology. I have always wanted to help people to thrive in some way or another and have been teaching since I was 14. I used to play music and have appeared on TV as a child doing so. I had the privilege of growing up in a time where these things were funded by the local government.  I had planned on being a psychologist or a journalist.  I was writing for a magazine when I was 16.  Now in my 40’s all that I have done has led me here.

Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.

I have always freelanced or consulted since I began working after leaving university but did not set up on my own until I had my son. I used my knowledge to support other women in business, particularly local mothers.  I started my business initially because I realised that lots of women had businesses they wanted to start or had begun but had nowhere to go for support and advice.  I used my business development and marketing skills to support them and became a business coach. My business evolved as I discovered that clients had blocks to implementing the plans we worked on and I became a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner to help them with their mindset.  I also trained as a Performance Coach and now am an NLP Master. In the middle of this journey I became ill.  I collapsed at home with my toddler and that began the journey that lasted six years.  I was diagnosed with a condition called fibromyalgia which causes muscle pain, fatigue, brain fog and can leave people bedridden.  I was building my business with a young child, studying for a PhD and becoming increasingly ill. I had to make changes to how I operated, my mindset, habits and behaviours.  I also released things I no longer needed to carry.   I no longer suffer from any of the symptoms and use my journey and knowledge to speak to others about burnout, self-care and change.

Tell us about your goals, interests, and role models.

My goal is to have an international business supporting women to thrive so they can make change happen in the world.  I am a serial learner, love reading, music, dancing and being with the people I love. i have always loved Maya Angelou, I’m a fan of Brene Brown and Michelle Obama and my grandmother was an inspirational woman

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?

There have been many challenges along the way and six years of chronic ill-health meant that things took a long time.  I have invested time and money in the wrong people and programmes and also underestimated how much time and effort was needed for some projects!  I never wanted to ask for help either! Now I ask for help and support, have clarity on what I will say yes to, honour my boundaries, take time out to reflect and rest. I use the tools and techniques I share with my clients to stay healthy.

What impact do you feel you have been able to create with your work so far and how would you want to grow in the next few years?

Through coaching and training my team and I have impacted thousands of people and I want to continue to help people to thrive and grow in their businesses and careers. More international projects, the release of my book and partnering with organisations to grow our reach.

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?

For me, it enabled me to quadruple my business as I used the time to make connections, speak and give my time to a wide range of people to support them for free.  This then led to opportunities. Personally, it gave me time to go in and reconnect to what was important to me – it was hard being part of a large family and not being able to see each other!

Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?

I have over 25 years of business experience, am an accredited NLP Master coach and have a PhD in sociology. Iwon a Microsoft/O2 award for business in 2013, was shortlisted for Best Coach at the Best Business Women Awards, 2015 and was awarded an MBE for my work with women in business in 2017.

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?

Safety and belonging for all – we still do not have a world where women are free from harassment, have body autonomy and can access education. Racism, prejudice and discrimination are still rife.

What’s the most important thing you have learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?

Motto – There is always a solution! 

Becoming a mother has been the most transformational journey for me.  Also, it is never too late to try something new and if you don’t like what you see, be the change!

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?

We have more women leaders than ever however I have come across too many workplaces that leave women feeling like they are impostors or that they have to sacrifice who they are in order to succeed. Women then leave. If people want their staff to thrive they need to be willing to change the culture and realise that those changes are good for business as well as the people in them.

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?

Dream big! Choose to live the life you want and go for it.  Waiting until all is perfect will stop you taking chances.