Rob Bancroft interviews Danielle Allan… about “old boys”, backing winners and business not as usual.
Danielle Allan – “Innovation & Support”
Danielle propels innovators forward by giving their concepts legs to stand on. Creative ideas that challenge the status quo gave energy to her company, Business Dan Consulting. Danielle has been working with Allan Financial for 7 years, most recently in the capacity of Finance Director. That’s a big role to fill, but she’s been mentored by the best, and her Sauder Business School education and diverse clients have equipped her for the task.
The Kiva Project combines her deepest passions, championing entrepreneurs and making a social impact. Social venture alongside life insurance may be an unheard of idea, perhaps even tough for some to swallow. As Dan puts it, “the Allan Financial Kiva Project is in alignment with our shared value approach to business. It’s simple but innovative. It doesn’t fit into any existing parameters…and that’s why we like it.”
Her team is JAMBO SQUAD.
Rob: Can you tell me a bit about your background and experience?
Dan: I grew up in a close-knit community (Bowen Island) that taught me a lot about caring for people and giving back. I have also travelled a fair amount, so I have an appreciation for different cultures and different ways of life. Coming from a small community and being exposed to both poverty and affluence through travel has given me a heart for organizations like Kiva.
Rob: What does your Sauder Business School background bring to the table?
Dan: Sauder gave me a deep understanding of financial models and economic theory. This backbone allows me to challenge the status quo while speaking the language that business people understand. Economic theory falls short as it assumes a narrow definition of human nature, and doesn't integrate social context. This project addresses that. Kiva speaks the business language as well as the philanthropy language, which often gets dismissed in our insurance world.
Rob: How does the Kiva Project fit with where you’ve come from and where you want to go?
Dan: I started by looking at what I wanted to do, which was to take an awesome idea from an entrepreneur and give it operational legs to stand on. I thrive on the energy and passion of entrepreneurs with new ideas, and love turning those ideas into realities. That's also what Kiva does: it's an organization that brings entrepreneurial ideas to life with a small amount of capital. The partnership makes sense.
It’s pretty cool to work on a ‘not just for profit’ project. I hope it will be a springboard for similar opportunities in the future.
Rob: You’re a young woman propelling an innovative project in the insurance industry – arguably one of the most conservative old school businesses out there. Why this project, within this industry?
Dan: This industry needs to come out of the dark ages: there’s limited innovative spirit in the bureaucracy of insurance companies. They don't tend to see this trend of social responsibility as a component of developing business. It’s just business as usual. I think I have an understanding of the industry and enough contacts within it to shake things up a bit.