Sahar Hashemi, a former lawyer, founded Coffee Republic, the UK’s first US style coffee bar chain with her brother and built it into one of the UK’s most recognised high street brands with a turnover of £30m. She made Coffee Republic one of the first players in the ‘coffee revolution’ that transformed the UK high street. Sahar is an internationally recognized speaker, whose captivating and uplifting speeches combine her own enthralling story with key themes of entrepreneurial leadership, innovation, customer service, change management and employee engagement.
Sahar left the day to day management of Coffee Republic in 2001 and published a bestselling book called Anyone Can Do It- building Coffee Republic from our kitchen table, which has been translated into 6 languages and is 2nd highest selling book on entrepreneurship on Amazon after Richard Branson’s book. In 2005 Sahar Hashemi started Skinny Candy, high profile brand of guilt-free sweets which she sold to confectionery conglomerate Glisten plc in 2007.
Her second book ‘Switched On: 10 Habits to Being Highly Effective in Your Job, and Loving it ’ was published in 2010 and focuses on creating an entrepreneurial mindset for employees in large companies. Sahar says, “The future is all about being entrepreneurial in the employee context. You need to bring your whole personality – not just the ‘professional’ you – to work. Move outside your comfort zone, ignite your innate creativity and forget the ‘this is how we’ve always done things’ mentality. Don’t fear failure, fear complacency.”
In 2011 Sahar Hashemi was nominated by Director magazine as one of the Top 10 Original Thinkers, taking her place alongside individuals such as Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web and Jonathan Ives, Vice-President of Design at Apple and designer of the iPod. It praised her view that, “Entrepreneurially minded talent shouldn’t have to leave large corporations in order to achieve fulfilment. Entrepreneurial behaviour, including ideas like bootstrapping, prototyping and celebrating failure, can help turn stuffy corporations into creative environments. They can also transform automatons into valued, engaged employees”.
In 2011 she was also invited to join the Entrepreneurs Forum set up by UK Business Minister Vince Cable to give advice to the government on enterprise and business policies. In June 2012 Sahar was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list “for services to the UK economy and to charity”. Sahar was named ‘Pioneer to the life of the nation’ by Her Majesty The Queen and a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in Davos. She was also named one of 100 most influential women in Britain by the Daily Mail. In 2016 she was selected as one of the ‘Maserati 100’, a “definitive list of 100 of Britain’s most successful philanthropists, investors, mentors and advisors… who generously give back to the next generation of founders”.
She is a member of the Customer Council of E.On, the energy group, representing the voice of the customer at board level. By telling her very personal journey, she connects with the audience on an emotional level and brings to life the passion, determination and open mindedness needed to succeed. She outlines the Habits that are the cornerstone of Switched On and ignites the audience with a ‘can do’ spirit and the tools and habits to ‘make it happen.’