After studying economics and management, followed by a master’s in international development at the University of Bristol, Yasmin de Giorgio became disillusioned with the business world.
“I felt like it is responsible for too much of the damage being done around the world,” she reveals, affirming that it wasn’t until later, when she discovered conscious business principles, that things shifted. “That made me realise that there are models out there for doing business in an ethical way that can actually contribute to the wellbeing of society. Business can even provide solutions to many of the crises we are currently faced with,” she explains, crediting this shift in perspective with leading her on the path to entrepreneurship.
And embrace that path she did. Often described as a serial entrepreneur, Yasmin went on to found three successful businesses within five years.
“Even before starting my first business I founded an NGO, so I can say that I’ve always been one to see a gap and try to create a project to fill it,” she reveals, and that is what happened when she founded The Grassy Hopper. “At that time, we were pioneers in the field of healthy catering, really creating a market that many had told me didn’t exist,” Yasmin says.
Later, when she founded Sanya, her aim was to create a wellness service to address the epidemic of stress, burnout and disconnection to the self – ailments that she believes have intensified in the five years the eco spa has been operating. Describing the start-up journey with Sanya as intense, owing to the fact that it is a capital-intensive business, she reveals, “bringing the business into the more mature condition it is currently in is definitely the achievement I am most proud of so far.”
And now, she looks forward to her newest challenge, as the CEO of Shireburn Software, replacing founder John de Giorgio. Describing her role as one that focuses on strategic decision making, Yasmin says she is looking forward to working with the leadership team to ensure the company’s operations align with its strategic direction. “Working to support leaders to grow personally and professionally is a part of the job I will enjoy very much, and one where my skillset is closely aligned,” the CEO affirms.
“Being able to take a software product right from its initial idea to a fully-fledged system used by hundreds of companies is something very interesting and that I will learn a lot from,” she continues, noting that while it will certainly come with its challenges, “the important thing in business is to be always facing new challenges as opposed to having to solve the same problems again and again.”
Speaking of the importance of balancing business with personal life, as well as her new position at Shireburn with her existing role as Managing Director at Sanya, Yasmin considers herself lucky that “Sanya, given its purpose, is a very nice environment and many of the services we offer are suited to the purpose of supporting work-life balance, so I make use of them myself.”
“We have a great team, so my role there has shifted from much less operational to more about teaching, hosting workshops and passing on my skills when it comes to stress management,” she continues.
Revealing her biggest passions outside of work, Yasmin lists surfing among her hobbies, revealing that “whenever there is any rough weather, you will find me down at the beach catching a few waves.” She also loves permaculture, and says that “often, in my spare time I can be found in a field, tending to the vegetables and letting my feet touch the soil.” Adding another recently acquired interest to the list, she adds, “I have fallen in love with the Chinese Tea Ceremony, so I’ve been learning a lot about tea, and drinking lots of different kinds of tea.”
And as she turns her gaze toward the future for both businesses, she reveals, “at Shireburn we are making good progress in some key projects, including building more functionality into the HR side of our Indigo payroll system. Next year we will be developing that side of the business further as well as focusing heavily on developing our next generation of accounting products, and supporting our current business suite. 2022 will be very exciting for us as we will see our new product taking shape.”
Meanwhile, at Sanya, Yasmin notes, “we are launching a few new programs throughout the rest of 2021 that will be all about helping our clients meet specific health goals. Instead of having to try different tools in different places and often feeling lost at how to combine therapies, we will have specific programs targeted towards anxiety, maintaining healthy weight and balancing hormones.”
“Simon Sinek said, ‘If you don’t know people, you don’t know business’ – I love that and would also add ‘If you don’t know yourself, you don’t know business.’ My top tip is to invest in your own soft skills. Running a business takes a lot of inner strength, conviction, resilience and leadership skills… these are all things you don’t learn in an MBA but that are crucial to success.”
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