Interview with Ali Meehan, founder Costa Women
Ali Meehan is Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Costa Women, the largest social networking community for women living in, or planning on moving to Spain. Costa Women won Best of British Social Club by The Telegraph in 2012 and Expat Stars award from MyCurrencyTransfer. Ali was also highlighted as a top Twitter account for expat advice by The Telegraph and has a social media reach of 10,000+. With her company, Sociomimetics, Ali works to demystify social media and make it a useful tool for individuals and businesses alike.
Ali now lives in Spain where she has settled after travelling the globe over the last 20 years and working in Australia, the Middle East and Asia. 3Plus chatted to her earlier this summer from her base in Spain.
How did you choose your career path?
It chose me! Attending an all girls grammar school during the 1970s, I recall our “Careers” advice was along the lines of “you girls will probably will get married and have babies”! Whilst not necessarily planned or to rebel; I have been very fortunate to have had a great career path; 17 years in a legal practice in Kent, 5 years with a glass wholesaler (enabling me to travel the world with work) and 9 years for a Middle East based Business Development Consultancy in the Oil and Gas industry.
The tools and skills learnt along the way have been invaluable and I now run a Social Media and ecommerce consultancy called Sociomimetics.
What are your greatest challenges?
Time would be my biggest challenge! As well as running a busy consultancy, I am also founder of Costa Women, a free social and business networking community for Women living in Spain. The Social Entrepreneur in me is having fun supporting the community in Spain, but I could do so much more if I had time!
Tell us about one special success story with Costa Women
Difficult to answer as we have had many; whether fund-raising for local charities, being awarded Best of British Social Club by the Telegraph in 2012, or hearing that our members are doing business together. However, I think I would choose one of our core values – connecting Women. The community has united so many Women in Spain. Only this week, one of the members posted on her Facebook timeline:-
“Being a member of Costa Women has changed my life in many ways - I have made many wonderful friends who I meet up with on a regular basis at Costa Women events and other times - I have gained the confidence and know how to start a small business of my own with the help of the many different work-shops and business networking meetings set up by Ali Meehan and other Costa Women - On a personal level my life is now far more rewarding and enjoyable and I feel Costa Women has been instrumental in that process” “
What are the challenges facing women in Spain?
Not just Women, for arrivals in a new land – language learning, how to run a business within a new culture and legal/tax system, finding work in your new country, ‘location, location, location’, finding the right schools for children and expectations of what your new life will look like. These can all create challenges for people moving overseas. Quite often the support system is not in place. Hopefully Costa Women can help Women with all of the above, provide the support and encouragement as well as lots of fun along the way.
Has any one person influenced you and how?
My Dad has been my biggest influence in life. Sadly he died 19 years ago, but his work ethos (he had a career into his late 70s), financial training (he was an Accountant and we had to save for everything we wanted to buy) and support and acceptance of his daughter in all her sensible as well as weird and strange ideas will always be with me. I know his legacy is looking after me still.
What do you like best about Costa Women?
Making a difference. Using and sharing the skills I have learnt over the years of working to help other Women in Spain.
If you could give one piece of advice to any woman about their professional choices what would it be?
Never stop investing in your own business and personal development. If you look at the length and breadth of your career and what you have achieved to date, the majority of the new skills (whether internal, or external) have been learnt along the way. It doesn’t have to cost a lot; Youtube is full of videos and training sessions about different topics. And of course Books and (the new influencer) Blogs can also be a useful source for learning.
Which song would you choose as your anthem?
Wow that’s difficult. Maybe “I have a dream” by ABBA? I love the quote “The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers. But above all, the world needs dreamers who do.
Sarah Ban Breathnach” - thanks for the interview from a “dreamer who does”!
Don't forget to check the entire Women who Inspire interview series here.
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