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From Courts to Boardrooms: The Rise of an Ex-England Netballer

Meet Florence Edwards, the visionary founder of Hathor Talent, a pioneering executive search and interim management firm committed to promoting diversity in senior finance talent pools for private capital-backed portfolio businesses. With a dynamic background that spans the courts of England Netball to the boardrooms of entrepreneurship, Flo’s journey is a testament to resilience and versatility. From her early days representing England Netball at the youth level to gracing the Netball Superleague stage with Loughborough Lightning, Flo has always pushed boundaries. Now, as a candidate on this year’s BBC The Apprentice, she continues to embody the spirit of ambition and innovation, leaving an indelible mark on both the sports arena and the business world.

What inspired you to transition from a successful netball career to founding Hathor Talent?

While netball has always been an integral part of my life and continues to be, I always had a passion for working in more of a corporate environment. As I gained experience, I started to form my own values and what I wanted from a career, thus founding Hathor Talent.

How does Hathor Talent differentiate itself in the executive search and interim management industries, particularly with its focus on diversity?

Hathor Talent works with private-capital-backed businesses to provide senior finance resources, both in executive search and interim management. Diversity and inclusion serve as our foundation, and we prioritize them alongside quality in every search we conduct.

Can you share some key challenges you faced in establishing Hathor Talent, and how you overcame them?

Launching a business is never easy. All of a sudden, you are responsible for not only delivering revenue and strategy but also finance, HR, IT, legal, marketing, and everything in between! You no longer have the infrastructure of a company around you, so it’s been a challenge adjusting to this! There’s never enough time in the day.

How do you think your experiences as a former England netballer have influenced your approach to entrepreneurship and leadership?

 I attribute a lot of my skills to the life experiences I have had previously, most notably with netball. Accountability, resilience, hard work, teamwork, being open and receptive to change, time management, confidence, leaning on support… Sport Integrity Global Alliance produced a fascinating fact that ‘94% of female C-suite executives played sports when they were younger, with 52% participating at the university level,’ and I fully understand why!

With your background in elite sports, how do you apply the principles of teamwork and determination to your business ventures?

Playing sports at a high level has meant I’ve learned how hard work and determination can get you places. This may be a brief injury setback or not getting selected, but it has allowed me the skill of being able to take a step back and look at the wider journey without getting too stuck in the moment. The same principle applies to business; losing a client or underdelivering on a search may be frustrating at the moment, but by taking a step back, reflecting, and learning from the experience, you can improve your performance in the future!

What motivated you to join the cast of BBC’s The Apprentice, and how do you think this experience will impact your entrepreneurial journey?

Lord Sugar had previously invested in multiple recruitment businesses, and I was looking for investment to accelerate the business’s growth. The process allowed me to gain experience from different pockets of business, such as branding and marketing, as well as provide a platform for the business to grow from. 

As a candidate on The Apprentice, what were some of the most valuable lessons you learned during the process?

For me, I truly got to see the impact of diversity of thought. The candidates came from different walks of life and professions and carried different skills, so it was a true pleasure to work on business-oriented tasks with different minds all contributing to an outcome. I learned so much from the other contestants, which reinforced my importance and need for diversity.

 How do you balance your business founder responsibilities with your commitments to The Apprentice and other endeavors?

Thankfully, The Apprentice is now over, but it was very hard to stay focused on both! Keeping laser-focused on what is most important to me, the business, was extremely important. For me, it’s a necessity to do other endeavours outside of running the business, like playing netball or getting out and learning new things. I’m a bit of a history nerd, so I love visiting museums. It allows me to create space in my head to step away so I don’t get too bogged down in the details, and, in general, it’s very good for mental health, so I always find the time.

In what ways do you see HR talent evolving in the future, especially in light of the changing landscape of diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

Diversity and inclusion have been at the forefront of corporate discussions for a few years now, and we have seen steps taken in the FTSE to address this, but in the private markets, less so. Data has shown that having diversity of thought at the leadership level contributes to increased productivity and profitability, so for me, it’s a no-brainer. There will always be a need to change financial leadership in a business, but it’s imperative we discuss the ‘why’ in order to keep moving forward.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly those looking to break into industries traditionally dominated by established players?

You have to back yourself. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, then no one else will!

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