Working with leaders and their teams to be the best they can be
Islanda is a family business founded by Dan and Lisa Allen to help clients build better futures for themselves and others by creating better minds.
If you, your team, or your business wants to build a better future, you’ve found the right place to start.
I have been interested in human psychology from a very early age, being an avid reader of psychology-based books as well as being someone who others sought out for advice and help. However, with a natural ability for numbers and a personal drive to achieve independence and financial security, I followed a more traditional route.
I completed a degree in Mathematics at Bristol University and qualified as a Chartered Accountant with PwC in 1992. I progressed through the ranks on a fast track to partnership enjoying a broad variety of experiences that working in London, for one of the top business advisory firms, offered.
Whilst this made complete sense as a means of using my talents, what was missing was a passion for it and I had a strong sense of the ‘imposter syndrome’. Also, if anyone outside of work asked me about my job or asked me to help them with their tax or accounts, my heart would sink and my energy would drain.
I was continually seen as the ‘structured’ one and found myself taking on that role in every part of my life – with my family, friends and in the various voluntary roles I held. With a strong sense of duty and a desire to help others I would always fulfil any commitments but this started to have a significant impact on me as it required an awful lot of willpower and self-motivation.
During a particularly low point I sought counselling. Unbeknown to me at the time, this was the beginning of my own journey of self-discovery that led me to identify my purpose and core values.
To cut a long story short, I looked for the clues in activities and experiences that weren’t linked to my ‘skills’ or my ‘duties’ such as the kind of books I enjoyed, the places I liked to visit, the sports I enjoyed and the other leisure activities I pursued.
I have now combined my passions in understanding people and being creative, my skills in logical analysis and structure, and my experiences in business and life to build our business that works with people to find their purpose and align it with all that they do so that they feel energised and fulfilled. I know I am living my purpose because if anyone (friend or otherwise) asks me about my job or seeks my help with a personal challenge I come alive, I immediately start to ask questions and it never feels like ‘work’.
Being married to someone who has a deep understanding of how our minds work, and how they can be improved to benefit your future, is a great advantage. Like Lisa, I also started working life as an accountant, not through any clear purpose, but merely as the next stage in my journey because I, too, was good at maths and had vague notions of working “in the city” partly prompted by my blacksmith father advising me against following in his shoes.
I also went through a process of discovering what really makes me tick, and it was clear to me that it was popular culture of all kinds – particularly TV, music, movies, and sports – and I’ve always been particularly fascinated by the impact popular culture has on people. Whether through good fortune or subconscious design, I have worked mainly in the worlds of popular culture, particularly TV.
My career experience to date covers a broad range of disciplines, employers and partners including global media businesses, major professional firms, SMEs and start-ups. Businesses I have worked for, or with, include: FremantleMedia, PwC, BBC, ITV, Bertelsmann, RTL Group, Channel 4, Pearson plc, Marks & Spencer, Amigo Technology, and Jamie Oliver. I recently co-founded Sort, a start-up youth careers platform enabling and inspiring young people to find the careers that match their passions and interests.
As well as helping to build Islanda and Sort, and advising other start-ups, I recently launched a YouTube channel devoted to the local cricket club I have been associated with for over 30 years, Sanderstead CC. It has become hugely popular after just one season, and has made Sanderstead CC probably the best known local cricket club in the world! This is a true passion play, and something I probably spend more time on than is healthy, but it might just transform the way in which grass roots cricket clubs can be funded and contribute more to local communities.