Anna Sheppard, Founder and CEO of Bambuddha Group strongly believes the power of Kindness is world changing. With a deep commitment for creating equality based on her lived experience, Anna began Bambuddha Group to show corporate leaders and their teams how to ‘work kinder’. She has developed an evidence informed approach which minimises risk across all organisational areas.
Bambuddha Group is a Finalist in the Telstra Best of Business Awards 2022, Accelerating Women Award category.
Tell us why you started Bambuddha Group.
I grew up in a caravan park on the northeast coast of England and am one of five Sisters, several of which have physical and learning disabilities. As a child, I spent most of my childhood fighting prejudice and finally went into the care system for a short time before braving the world alone at the young age of 16. As a neurodiverse gay person fitting into the systems in life has always been a challenge.
The good news? I was lucky enough to have found and understood my WHY from a young age. Early life experiences helped me develop a strong passion for equality and a vision for change. I found I worked optimistically and focused on putting myself through college, university and a master’s degree.
After working on various community development projects in Europe, Africa and Asia, I had an idea to set up a company with a clear vision for social and environmental change. And so Bambuddha Group was born, to pay forward a percentage of business profits to work to balance the scales for equality.
I have added value to thousands of companies and inspirational leaders by showing them how to ‘work kinder.’ It has also been amazing to be involved as a founder of several other major initiatives, including The Corporate Kindness Awards, Working Kind Collective (the worlds first kind business centre), the Impact Studios and The Corporate Kindness Project, which is an Australian-based research study focusing on the business benefits of working kind. The first white paper was released in 2019 and is now an upbeat, honest and feel-good podcast show called ‘Project Good Boss.’
Anna Sheppard and Bambuddha Group have won multiple awards for work in this space, including being recognised as one of the ” Top 10 Leadership Development Training and Coaching Companies 2021 in APAC”, Top 50 leading light for APAC, Top 50 most impactful LinkedIn Influencers and are currently finalists for 2022 Telstra Best of Business Awards, and 2021 NSW Business Awards.
How does Bambuddha Group help people be the change they want to see in the world?
We believe in a future where every leader is committed to creating a sustainable world of equality and opportunity for everyone.
Bambuddha Group is a social enterprise providing professional coaching, education and corporate programs for leaders committed to creating social impact in business. Membership provides access to a Corporate Kindness Curriculum that offers industry-leading coaches, executive education, and many resources to embed sustainable change and kinder practices for people, customers, community and environment.
We also encourage businesses to participate in the 2022 Corporate Kindness Conference and Awards sponsored by Blooms The Chemist, ACM and the 6 AM Agency. The event brings together companies each year to celebrate those working hard and working kind. The postponed event will be held at Lendlease in Sydney on 1st April and is a great way to inspire your team.
What is the impact of Bambuddha Group’s Corporate Kindness Awards?
The Corporate kindness conference and awards are produced with the support of a big-hearted committee to senior media and marketing professionals. Funds from ticket sales and sponsorship enable us to provide programs focusing on reducing inequality in business and leadership.
We provide annual 12-month Game Changer member scholarships to enable in-need and underrepresented business owners and leaders to access our professional kindness coaches and programs. This is possible due to our community’s paid members who pay it forward, along with our coaches, sponsors and partners who donate time, funding and good and services.
We think diversity in leadership and on boards is not just good for business but creates more kindness for people, customers, community, and environment. The value of the scholarship is $6,000 per recipient.
Our two flagship corporate programs are:
The Kind Leader Program is a progressive academy style program to support businesses in the development of their management and leadership by building knowledge and 1-1 and group coaching with a focus on the application of kind business strategies and the relation to improved customer engagement, staff retention and social license to operate. This program is perfect for organisations that are working to build sustainable, culturally healthy businesses for the future.
The Good for Business Program is a facilitated 5 step program that coaches leaders through the baseline metrics, planning and integration of kindness and ESG across all areas. This program is suited to businesses that are ready to take a deep dive to become an authentic brand that works hard at working kind.
Bambuddha Group has established a new board that will be working to tech enable our professional education solutions and scale impact through the Bambuddha Group -Corporate Kindness Index.
Your greatest challenge?
One of the biggest challenges has been working with boards to get them to understand the business benefits and impact of diversity in senior leadership. In our early years, taking a significant system change agenda and translating that into a humancentric and applicable business program was at times challenging.
Having worked our magic on many businesses we now have a winning and evidence-informed formula which gives results and minimises risk across all areas of an organisation.
Most proud of?
Every paid client at Bambuddha Group helps provide scholarships reducing inequalities in leadership and business. In the last two years of COVID disruption, we have provided over 325K in program scholarships to underrepresented business owners and leaders.
We are also proud of the number of leaders we have helped amplify their message and voice and how they have applied their learning from our programs to their businesses and communities around the world. The ripple effect of kind leadership is the gift that keeps on giving.
Advice for future female leaders?
Be yourself and be kind, do not compare yourself to others, get clear on your purpose and use your strengths to make this world a better place, focus on how you can build a viable business model and then test it, remember Rome was not built overnight. Most of the overnight success stories you see are just good marketing!
If you can find your tribe and the people who care about what you are trying to achieve, you are always going to be moving in the right direction. In the same token, distance yourself from the doubters of the people who bring down your good vibes.
Listen to your gut instincts if something does not feel right; it usually isn’t!
Crunch the numbers as they matter; you have to look after yourself before you can sustainably help others.
Be brave and tenacious but remember to be kind to your body, mind and soul because your health is an essential thing; trust me, I learnt this the hard way.
You are the female economy. Whether you are a female consumer, business owner or a woman in the workforce, you can create gender equality by choosing female led brands.
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