Empowering Diversity: A Conversation Between Two CEOs

By George Charles

Here’s a glimpse into our podcast tackling the challenges, triumphs, and hard truths of entrepreneurship, innovation, and workplace diversity as two CEOs collide.

A few months ago, a remarkable collaboration unfolded as two dynamic individuals stepped in front of the camera to put the spotlight on their roles as CEOs. Lara Lalemi and Colby Benari, leaders of Creative Tuition Collective and In2scienceUK respectively, converged to share their experiences, challenges, and triumphs in the realm of entrepreneurship and workplace diversity.

This conversation began by delving into the intricacies of finding your team, innovation, and the pressing need for diversity in the workplace. Suddenly this became a conversation full of insightful awareness and guidance for aspiring leaders navigating their own paths to success.

One poignant moment from their discussion was the topic of queer representation in the charity sector. Lara and Colby highlighted a crucial reality: there’s a glaring lack of visibility for queer individuals, particularly within leadership roles. As advocates for diversity and inclusivity, they underscored the importance of amplifying voices from the LGBTQ+ community and fostering a more inclusive environment for all.

Finding your people, and forming your support network

Another poignant moment in Lara and Colby’s interview centred around the importance of having a supportive team and the inherent challenge of creating your own business or charity.

Both CEOs acknowledged the critical role that their teams played in their respective journeys. They emphasised that success isn’t achieved in isolation but through the collective effort of dedicated individuals who share a common vision. Lara talked about founding The Creative Tuition Collective, and working towards becoming a charity. Lara and Colby spoke passionately about the significance of building a supportive and inclusive team culture, where everyone feels valued, empowered, and motivated to contribute their best.

In navigating the complexities of entrepreneurship, having a supportive team becomes invaluable. Together, they weather the storms, celebrate the victories, and propel the organisation forward or in Lara’s case they become part of your chosen family. Colby remembers the first moment that she transitioned from asking for help, to being asked for help.

Of course, we all find ourselves asking for help now and then, but it is in these ‘golden moments’ that your advice is being asked, you know you have contributed as part of someone else’s support network. Lara and Colby’s shared experiences underscore the transformative power of collaboration, highlighting the importance of surrounding oneself with individuals who share a common purpose and in this collaboration; as Lara says ‘you become a better version of yourself’.

Before this, we spoke to our alumni about what they wanted us to ask CEOs.

They were incredibly interested in the entrepreneurship and genesis of starting an organisation. One of the most memorable parts of this podcast is made here, as they didn’t shy away from addressing the challenges they encountered while establishing their organisations.

Interestingly, Colby talks about inheriting In2scienceUK and the specific challenges you face as a CEO that is coming into an existing organisation. She also speaks about being a founder CEO previously, and this is an exquisite example of the challenges most CEOs face. The journey of entrepreneurship is fraught with obstacles—financial constraints, bureaucratic hurdles, and the ever-present fear of failure. Lara and Colby shared candidly about their experiences navigating these challenges, highlighting moments of doubt, resilience, and eventual triumph.

Actively focusing on diversity, in all forms

Another poignant moment of this interview was the discussion about the intersectionality of gender and race in the workplace. Both CEOs emphasised the importance of recognising and addressing the unique challenges faced by women in leadership positions. They acknowledged that while progress has been made in promoting gender equality, there’s still much work to be done to ensure that women from all backgrounds have equal opportunities for advancement.

Lara shared her personal experiences navigating the complexities of being a woman of colour in a leadership role, highlighting the need for organisations to actively dismantle systemic barriers and create inclusive environments where everyone can thrive. Colby echoed these sentiments, emphasising the importance of being around, making every employee feel safe and actively listening to every voice in the room, through her ‘lunch breaks’ that any employee can join to chat with her.

Finding balance in rocky terrain

Lara and Colby touched upon the challenges of balancing work and personal life as CEOs. As CEOs, both Lara and Colby are intimately familiar with the pressures that accompany their roles. They both talk about the relentless deadlines, the weight of responsibility, and the constant juggling act of managing multiple priorities. They shared strategies for managing stress and avoiding burnout, emphasising the importance of self-care and setting boundaries. Lara spoke about her support network, and the importance of looking out for each other, that become integral during stressful bouts of work and study. Her honesty and vulnerability in discussing these challenges served as a reminder that even successful leaders face struggles and setbacks, and that it’s okay to ask for help and prioritise your own well-being.

Colby perspective on the challenges of balancing work and personal life as a CEO further enriched the conversation. As Colby reflected on the delicate balance required to navigate the demands of leadership while nurturing personal well-being. She talked about the necessity of carving out time for activities that recharge recognising that prioritising self-care isn’t just a luxury, but that it’s a fundamental aspect of effective leadership.

Colby echoed Lara’s sentiments about the significance of a support network. She shared her experiences of leaning on her team, friends, and inspirations during challenging times, highlighting the invaluable role they played in providing emotional support and guidance. Colby emphasised that vulnerability isn’t a sign of weakness, and asking for help is a essential tool. Plus, she decries this notion by talking about her experience being asked for help. She turns this into a positive, and reveals that when she is asked for help, this becomes a ‘humbling moment’ that she enjoys receiving.

What did we learn?

As the conversation drew to a close, Lara and Colby’s message resonated with us: with a supportive team by your side and a steadfast commitment to your vision, anything is possible. It really is a powerful reminder of the importance of diversity, inclusion, and empathy in leadership. Their willingness to engage in difficult conversations and confront uncomfortable truths shows their commitment to driving positive change in STEAM.

Click below to watch the Podcast in full.

Thank you George Charles for producing this podcast behind the scenes.

We’re really eager to shout about the amazing work that Creative Tuition Collective do.

Creative Tuition Collective is shaking up the traditional approach to education with a dash of creativity and innovation. They offer personalised tutoring services that go beyond the standard textbook drills, focusing on unlocking students’ full potential through engaging, hands-on learning experiences. Whether it’s mastering math through art projects or delving into literature through interactive storytelling sessions, Creative Tuition Collective strives to make learning fun, accessible, and meaningful for students of all ages and backgrounds. Their mission is all about inspiring a love for learning and empowering students to think outside the box.

Led by Lara Lalemi, her organisation is passionate about giving back to the community. Through various outreach programs and partnerships with local schools and organisations, they’re committed to making quality education accessible to all, regardless of socioeconomic status. Creative Tuition Collective is dedicated to levelling the playing field and ensuring that every child has the opportunity to thrive academically and beyond.