Shani, Jun 2016


Tell us your origin story: where are you from and what made you the person you are today?

I was born and raised in Israel, daughter of an Entomologist and a Geography teacher (that says a lot), and the only one of my household who didn’t go to University straight out of the army.

Yes, I had to join the army when I finished high school because it was Israel and that’s just what someone at the tender age of 18 from my background did in 1997. I was in the army for two years and I think had a lot to do with who I am now; I was a tomboy so until the army most of my friends were guys, but when I joined I only had women around me for four and half months, so I *had* to make friends. Some of the friendships I forged then are cherished with amazing people I still love today.


After the army, having refused to go to University, I started working. I’m passionate about work, but I didn’t know that at the time. I translated a PowerPoint ’95 Step by Step book, then I was a researcher for a business strategy consultancy, then I was a Marketing Communications Officer, and then I was a journalist (all of which, when looking back, make perfect sense given where I wound up!).


I got tired of Israel and started travelling (another passion of mine). First was a six month gambit across North America in a 1983 BMW. Then there was Boston/Amsterdam/Vancouver/San Francisco and playing a lot of music in a lot of local clubs (yet another passion). And then I met my partner, Nickie, and wound up, here, in the UK.

The first job I found here was a music teacher in a small after-school club in North London. I managed their school, then their music instruments store. Then I landed a project management job in a Management Consultancy place that trained me to up to be a trainer and a coach, and then I started a business with a colleague, and then I bought the colleague’s share of it so *now*…

*NOW* I am an organisational consultant, which means I help organisations (not just companies) sort out the balance between People>Process>Systems and *stuff*. I’m very passionate about what I do and made up for not going to University when I was 20 by doing a MSc a couple of years ago, which got me completely sucked into the world of academia and research.

To me, Organisational Development isn’t a “what I do”, but “how I do it”, so it’s sort of a philosophy that sort of dominates my life.


How long have you been a Cambridge Ladybird and what brought you here?


I’ve been a Ladybird since January 2016, and it was Ruth Turner (MoM of May) who brought me. She said to me (after I raised a questioning eyebrow about her WI membership) “It’s just a group of kickass women doing kickass things,” or something of that ilk. I couldn’t say no to that!


What’s a typical day in your life lately?

Up at 5:55, then depending on which day of the week it is, it’s either a bit of play time with our 6 month old son or straight to the shed at the bottom of the garden, because I have phone calls with clients based in the Eastern Hemisphere. Then, there is Jazzercise or a walk or a run (I’m Couch-to-5K-ing from the beginning… again…), then lunch and back to the grindstone.

I finish work at 5pm, have a bit of playtime and dinnertime and storytime and bathtime and bedtime; often supplemented by a wee bit of telly with Nickie.

If I have any energy left in me at this point, I’d do a bit of writing. If not, I just go to sleep…

Someone gives you a million pounds to spend on yourself.  You can’t give it to charity or spend it on friends or family; it all has to be for you.  What do you do with it?


Go travelling for a bit with Nickie and our son. Maybe even buy a camper van and/or a chalet in Wales or Scotland so we can go away more often.

Then do something sensible, like pay off the mortgage and invest in something, because my dad’s programming runs deep.


What are your most passionate community or activist goals?

I would really like to find a tangible link between how much an organisation invests in its people and how well the organisation is doing. That’s sort of what I’m trying to research, and it’s tricky and fascinating and beautiful.


Just to be philosophical about it, I believe that “organisation” equals “a group of people with a common goal”, so being part of all sorts of organisations (Ladybirds included), and understanding the different ways we invest in each other and the wellbeing (individual and communal) that comes from it is part of that beauty and fascination.


In a thousand years when future generations unearth your tomb, what are the wise words you have left behind to inspire them?

I’m nowhere near clever enough to leave words of wisdom that will inspire generations, but I would like this Neko Case lyric as my epitaph: “I do my best but I’m made of mistakes”.

And do you have a personal or business website you’d like posted as a link?

For the hell of it, here’s and the professional blog I haven’t updated since our son was born. Soon, though! I promise I’ll start blogging again soon!!!

Rock on Shani.

The member of the month for June is Shani Eliraz!