In Conversation with Aisha Allee
As an artist and as a writer, I find inspiration in everything: from the way a leaf may fall from a tree in the midst of the Autumn months; from the way the sun may hit the ocean waves and glint ever-so-spectacularly; to the way a child may hold out his hand to another child, to help the latter on his way.
But once in a while I meet someone who completely takes me aback because they themselves are a walking, talking inspiration due to what they’ve achieved and more importantly, because of what they stand for. Aisha Allee, chairperson and founder of Blast Communications, and now CEO of The Jupiter Drawing Room in Mauritius, was one such person – and here is what happened when we met up.
It was another beautiful, bright day in Port Louis. Aisha, always well presented and composed, took the seat opposite me and smiled; eager to hear whatever it was I had prepared to ask her. She intrigued me, not only because she was a forward-thinking and successful woman in a mans world, but because her face and her twinkling eyes showed wisdom, experience, and dare I say it, even hints of past pain which had all moulded her, wonderfully, into the woman that sat before me today.
Highly successful yet movingly humble, I was interested to know whether her childhood dreams and her current reality matched up. Aisha told me, quite nostalgically, that as a young girl she wanted to become a lawyer when she grew up, as she was always interested in standing up for what was right. “I always got into trouble for defending people,” she laughed, “especially for defending my friends. This often got me into trouble!” However, Aisha never actually went into the field of law – quite the opposite actually, as she took a slight detour in life and pursued a career as an airhostess with Air Mauritius for 6 years, which she loved.
The defining moment in her life when she made the decision to set up Blast, Mauritius’ leading PR and Communications firm which has been successfully running for over 10 years, was when she was working for another company where she felt undervalued and very unhappy. “That was a point in my life where I just really wanted to do something,” she told me.
In a country where the purpose of PR was not fully understood, Aisha and her small team worked night and day to make Blast a success, winning over their first client by, how she put it, “pestering him every single day!”, and today business is booming!
But moving away from the business side of things, I was keen to learn more about Aisha as a person; her values, her thoughts on current issues and any wisdom from her life experience so far that she was willing to throw my way.
As a lady that has travelled all over the globe, met people from various different backgrounds and seen all sorts of good and bad, she told me that one of the world’s greatest problems for her is the refusal of people to open up to new ideas. Nevertheless, she sees hope in the current generation – something that she didn’t see in the people around her when she was growing up.
“The current generation has questioned many things that were not right in my childhood. Like, they appreciate diversity more and more and they are open about their views. Look at Facebook! They are saying things – they are not happy with this and that, and they say it. We used to be so worried about what people will say, but who cares what people think?”
Aisha went on to make a point that I completely agree with, and that I too am guilty of. The current generation, despite the hope that they bring, want things instantaneously: instant gratification, instant wealth, instant success. But things that are worth working for in life don’t come instantly. “Hard work, passion, rigour and determination always pays off,” she told me, looking me straight in the eye. “You just have to be willing to sweat it out.”
Inspired by incredible role models such as legendary Nelson Mandela, and the positive team of family, friends and colleagues that she has built around her, Aisha believes that everybody enters this life with a purpose and a higher objective; it is just up to us what we choose to do about it. She believes that people who pursue a particular career path or make certain choices in life with monetary gains as their main focus, will have little or no success. She holds quite passionately the view that we all must play our part in helping to change our world for the better, with her “purpose and humble quest” being to become a better person, every single day. This touched me quite deeply, as I honestly believe from the deepest parts of my soul that to change the world, we must first change ourselves – and it is so wonderful when I meet strong people who share the same ideal.
So what did I learn from Aisha Allee in the short time I got to spend with her? Well, certainly that humility and staying grounded are two of the most important things when climbing the ladder to success; but also, remembering that the ladder you are climbing will go as high as you want it to go. She came across to me as a passionate, determined woman who is not afraid of challenging societal norms and expectations; a woman who has a soft heart but an extremely strong character; and a woman who values every little thing that she is blessed to have in her life.
I will leave you with something Aisha said that has stayed with me since we met, and I hope it impacts you too…
“I dream big. Dreams are free: they should be huge!”