"Pioneer to the life of the nation" Sahar Hashemi conferred with Honorary Fellowship by WIT
In her recently published book, Young Women, Work and Family in England, the social historian, Selina Todd, has demonstrated how more occupationally mobile women proved to be. Their growing participation in the work force, her research found, was transformative. In times of crisis and change they determined to be flexible and adaptive. In many instances they cast aside the constraining and the unattractive. They switched jobs and roles. They seized opportunity gallantly.
Sahar Hashemi could easily be cast as a case study in that historical retro analysis. She left aside the security of an established career in the legal profession. In 1995, in collaboration with her brother Bobby, an investment banker, she proceeded to establish Coffee Republic.
Neither had any experience of that business. Yet, with unerring foresight and a palate for the product itself, their company became a central feature of the Coffee Revolution, quickly reaching a turnover of STG£30m. In franchise and outlet their brand became a high street phenomenon.
Pursuing the transformative role, Sahar Hashemi sought to disseminate her success with the publication of her acclaimed book, Anyone Can Do It, reaching number one on the Amazon Business Chart.
A primary text at the London Business School programmes, this work is an exercise in the enabling of others, a sharing of the spirit, a narrative of adventurous endurance.
In addition, Sahar Hashemi engaged with an ever-extending lecture circuit, both public and private. She has been invited as a keynote speaker at world summits. Her media appearances include CNN Business Breakfast, BBC2, Radio 4 and BBC London.
She has been featured by Management Today as one of the top 35 Women in British Business and was named the Shell Livewire survey as an inspirational role model. She was also named by Her Majesty The Queen as a "Pioneer to the life of the nation".
Elite scholars, and those who have scaled the pinnacles to the summit of excellence, are composed of attributes not easily defined. Yet, we can perhaps say with some certainty that the imagination to vision the life as it might otherwise be, is a key aspect in the conflictive struggle between Introversion and Extravertion. And there at that nexus the honesty of the inner dialogue, the texture of the self belief and the fortress of the self concept are truly challenged. Sahar Hashemi, you overcame that challenge.
The wheel of history turns with eerie echo. Historically, the coffee house was the sanctuary of the alternative thinkers. It was in the coffee houses that the philosophers and literati came together to discuss how best to rework the social order and renew the economic model. These were the incubation centres for fresh thinking and new ideas. They were, in truth, the great intellectual republics of the mind.
Coffee Republic continues in that tradition, albeit at a different time and in a different place. Yet the alternative thinking modes of the founders, the search for something different and something new, the vision and the dream. They are all faithful to the founding principles of their venerable predecessors.
It was Plato who said that "the uninteresting life is not worth living", and it was Plato who set down in his Republic the principles on which much social theory was based subsequently.
In that triangulation we have the three consonant perspectives - the romantic, the republican and the revolutionary. In the middle we have the coffee.
Sahar Hashemi, your name is now entered in the annals of the Waterford Institute of Technology.