Skip to Content

Kanya King speaks about life's many challenges

Speaking at Brunel University, in West London, at “An Evening with Kanya King“ [Wednesday, Nov 11], the internationally recognised entrepreneur and innovator in the music industry, said; “Success buys me time to do things that are important to me.“

The youngest of nine children, of a Ghanaian father who died when she was 13, and an Irish mother, Kanya, grew up in a council flat in Kilburn, North-West London.

Ms King set up her organisation from her bedroom in 1996, and remortgaged her house to finance the first event, which was attended by Tony Blair, Lionel Ritchie and Gabriele.

Kanya revealed that she became a single parent at a young age and dropped out of Goldsmith's College, University of London, South-East London. “When I was studying, I didn't feel motivated. I didn't stay in hall.

“I had a young son. I got kicked out because I didn't attend lectures.“ She is now an honorary fellow of the university.

She added: “The best way to learn is through failure. Getting up and washing yourself down. Life has many challenges. It's punctuated with setbacks. I allow myself once in a while to wallow in self-pity and then I think, 'I have no right to self-pity,' I and remember what my parents went through.“

Kanya recalled her mother telling her that when the family tried to rent a house, “They were told: 'No blacks, no Irish and no dogs.'“

Giving advice on how to succeed in business, she said that building up relationships and networking were crucial. A founder member of Net Women, an influential body of high profile females in the media, Kanya said that “women in particular find it difficult to talk about money.“

Interviewed by TV presenter and media businessman Russell Amerasekera, as part of the event, Ms King agreed that “ juggling a career and being a mother is difficult. “But I'm passionate about what I'm doing. Life is hard enough without putting passion and energy into something that you don't want to do,“ she continued.

“The teaching at school didn't inspire me,“ she said. “You've got to do something that makes you want to get up in the morning, something that makes you feel that you're not working.“

She advised students to become involved in entrepreneurial website networks when “you can ask people who you respect for advice“ and told them that it was vital to understand “fundamental basics, like money management.“

About 300 people attended the annual event, the HSBC Lecture 2009 on the Uxbridge campus. An honorary degree of Doctor of Education was conferred on Lord Sainsbury, former chairman of JD Sainsbury, and former Trade and Industry minister.