Audie wouldn’t consider himself religious from a Christian perspective, however considers himself Christian of faith. Being the youngest of four children, raised by a single mother in Hackney, he had always been taught to put Christianity first to which he would later come to appreciate. The limitations and finiteness Audie has realised lies within material resources are changed when entering a real, spiritual relationship. Living with the understanding that we can change our physical with this spiritual but not the spiritual with the physical is something he came to terms very early in life. After coming to the very shockingly horrifying revelation that his mothers’ salvation did not guarantee his own, he asked to be saved. This enabled Audie to become a moral compass and have this spiritual responsibility. His notion is that, once we understand that we as individuals are the moderator and the author of our own lives, it is then we can really make a difference and start to be solution orientated to make that next, vital move…..
What is your cultural background?
My parents are Jamaican, I was born here in Hackney hospital. Not like Alan Sugar but I think it’s an interesting paradox. I think religion plays a great part in allowing young men and women to have a good outlook in order to deal with the highs and lows of life. In Anna Shears’ school, she taught us all how to deal with the highs and lows of success as well as keeping your feet on the ground, thus staying persistent and professional. I was lucky I had the church, male role models to look up to.
Tell us about you
I’m an MBA, I basically began (HIS) Cummings Global Associates of which I’m the MD as of November 2013, I was also accredited the same year by the institute on independent business. I was selected as a senior manager for the role that the IIB engage senior managers for which is the role of the mentor and project manager for mainly SME organizations. However since being engaged by them and then developing the limited company (HIS) Cummings Global Associates, we’ve embarked on a journey with other leaders of their organizations because when you are an actual director in an organization, it’s a very lonely concern because many that turn into PLCs don’t have the board of directors so that’s what we brought to the table. I have over six thousand that are like me in 47 countries that are specialists and I draw on those specialisms as and when the project requires it.
Pretty impressive. How did you start out in life?
Originally when I first came into business, I was a young 18 year old man studying a BTEC national in computing and I came to London as a barber during a time when young people didn’t really see it as an admirable profession, it was more of an old mans’ thing. However being someone with artistic confidence and abilities and having a brother who was an LABBA champion to whom I gave regular haircuts, I was motivated by his boxing gloves to become very good, very quickly. I then got a job in the North London, Tottenham area, where they really challenged me as I was taking over someone who was a hairdresser. I had to build a clientele and learn hairdressing. I went out and started developing leaflets which I learnt after I started an evening photography course, I also distributed them myself. I was an avid reader of The Voice, which posted the Battle of The Barbers competition ad to which I went ahead to enter, accepted quite last minute, and then won it as the Best Barber of the year in England which was a massive confidence booster. I competed again the following year, as well as opening Audie’s Professional Hair Studio at age 19-20. From then I became an experiential learner. I improved in my execution in my own technique plus eventually had four shops with thirteen staff, the business starting from a few hundred pounds. I was awarded grants from the prince of youths business trust, my business was selected and got to meet Prince Charles. I took part in the clothes show, was flown to Manchester to take part in many BBC productions. In all, it was a much expedited period of my life, however I was not new to media attention. As a 12 year old I obtained equity from my attendance at the famous Anna Shears’ Childrens Theatre, which provided me with elocution abilities, projection abilities, life skills and exposure. All of this put me in what I would later realise, a great position to aptly represent my brand in the way I am able to now. I was a market leader from a very early age.
Early success then! Where did you go from there?
After starting my barbering business? I then went on to be a technical educator for Lustre products in Europe, travelling to Dusseldorf particularly but then also getting the opportunity to go to Atlanta and Georgia, teaching people how to use the Lustre hair products. I also lectured in different colleges and had to work at Westminster College, collaborating with Joshua Galvin the assistant to Vidal Sasson at the time, putting systems in place to allow them to do afro barbering. I was doing things in a way that would challenge the present status quo, causing something as simple as male grooming to be a lot more than just that. I was fully aware of the responsibilities of being a role model, turning the fortunes of the few. I moved on eventually to other projects and am now at the University of East London after having gained a fair few degrees, working in the School of Social Sciences selecting people for this department for 10 years. I’ve gained my MBA and just put my proposal forward for a PhD. I’m also a pastor which is my social, spiritual and economic drive. I find myself best encouraging others and achieving their goals.
How did you find success being black? Did your race ever feel like an obstacle?
Well I can tell you, I find peoples’ perception of me very exciting. Speaking to people on the phone and then to see me in person, it is highly exciting (Audie is very well-spoken) but I think being black is a privilege, as biased as I may be. I find it a privilege to belong to a group of people that are not always accepted but always have something to offer by virtue of their culture but also spiritual-wise. And there are challenges I found them in education, challenges that would take me years to realise they even were challenges. But they all gave me purpose to know the achievements of my fellow black people, watching Roots from very young made me understand what my responsibility is to my people. Being a Black person living in a majority non-Black country gives me an introspective, mental and intellectual capability that I know if I wasn’t Black. I more than likely wouldn’t have these attributes because I would not have those specific motivations and reasoning. It is key not to allow other peoples’ opinions of you become you. You’ve got to have clarity of mind and listen, not only to what people say, but check their tone. This notion can be particularly used in business. It is all about setting goals in a balanced period of your life. I picked up what I did want in my life and dropped what I didn’t want. I’ve critically read so many summaries and so many biographies of different peoples’ lives, the kind of people who have achieved certain things to which you develop this kind of mentality. If they are achieving such greatness under such challenging adversities, then I really need to change my attitude. My Black history makes me accountable for who I am.