Today is #BlackLeadersAwarenessDay (BLAD) and to celebrate, we're highlighting the contributions of black leaders past and present. 

BLAD reminds us of how black leaders continue to influence, provide wisdom, and shape our society and culture.

We asked Ashanti Williams (pictured below), Area Manager for Regulated Activity at Hestia what her experience of being a manager is like and who inspires her as a Black leader.

What have you learned about yourself on your journey to becoming a leader?

My experience in regulated care dates back to 2008. Throughout the years I have done many roles throughout the social care industry, working with a range of different client groups, in some great teams. I had my first managerial role in 2019, which gave me a real insight into what it takes to be an effective manager. I had the opportunity to learn my approach, fine tune my skills and understand what being a manager means to me.

One of the main challenges that I experienced when I first became a manager/leader, was being uncomfortable with being in authority and not always being a confident decision maker or being assertive enough. I guess it was a form of imposter syndrome. I also struggled (and still struggle) with the lack of representation. Especially, when I entered my working life. I was quite young, very rough around the edges, raised in the heart of one of the roughest areas in London (Peckham) and being a young person that experienced homelessness and lived in young people services.

From my perspective, being an effective manager should be synonymous with being an effective leader and to be an effective leader, you have to care, you have to really be invested in the people who you have an impact on, both your teams and service users.

With the experience and wisdom, I gained along the way, I have gone on to learn so much. I have been able to work through my initial challenges. Form more confidence in my decision making, being empowered in my ability, trusting in my experience, knowledge, and competency, understanding what my passions and motivations are in being a good manager and keeping that at the core, whilst carrying out my role. I've learnt how to maintain the balance of being passionate about a good, quality, and safe service delivery, whilst being equally as passionate about ensuring the teams are supported and resourced to a good standard. But ultimately knowing that it all starts with the internal experience you are having with yourself and how fundamental your personal development is throughout your management experience.

From my perspective, being an effective manager should be synonymous with being an effective leader and to be an effective leader, you have to care, you have to really be invested in the people who you have an impact on, both your teams and service users. For me, being a part of their journey is something that genuinely humbles me.

What is it like being a manager at Hestia?

I joined Hestia in June 2022 as a team leader, changing roles to Area Manager of Regulated Activity soon after. If I had to sum up my experience on being a Manager at Hestia, I would say that it has pushed me out of my comfort zone, encouraged me to continue to be consistent in my personal and professional development. I have gained more resilience and throughout those moments of having an extremely busy workload, it has enhanced my ability to work in a solution focused, pragmatic way. The senior operations team and central services have been a great support to me, and I hope that I do and can also be of great support to my direct teams and other colleagues.

Who inspires you as a Black leader?

There are so many Black leaders that have inspired me throughout the years me from different professions, experiences etc. The common thread they all have, is the ability to transition through adversity and create a positive from a negative situation. Those that maintain integrity and are a glowing representation of just being a good person and doing the right thing, even and/or especially when no one is looking. The Windrush generation in general and those from my family, that paved the way, set a good example, and helped create foundations in the UK whilst having to endure so much.

I'm inspired by my husband, Sharon Evans (my first manager who continues to have a great impact on my life). A few more known names that come to mind are Viola Davis, Angela Davis, Shahrazad Ali, Oprah Winfrey, Dr Iyanla Vanzant, Steven Bartlett, Doreen Lawrence, Richard Taylor, Wretch 32, among so many others.

Lastly but not least, a phrase that often got me through those moments of self-doubt and lack of self-belief and a phrase that I often find myself saying to my daughter is:

“Remember, no one is more or less than you. And you are also not more or less than anyone. The one commonality we all have, is that we are all humans.”

Hestia is proud of its staff diversity networks, including the Stronger Together network which is made up of employees at all levels of Black and Brown heritage. The group is diverse in terms of cultures, ethnicities and global representation. The name Stronger Together was coined collectively by the group. For more information on all our diversity networks visit Our Culture page on our Careers section of the website.