“Coming to London was very emotional as our daughter Nisha needed to remain in Canada for work and could not join us in the move” says Kanchan. Even though they both knew technology allowed them to see each other and talk at any time, the reality was that she would be a nine hour flight away to reach her in an urgent situation. At the departure gate, she whispered through tears that she was very proud of our move to London; it was a reminder to her of the importance of following your dreams. With this message Kanchan boarded the flight.
Kanchan Prinsloo left Canada – her home – because she wanted to live boldly. This meant that she needed to live in a city that was a global hub. London for her was the place; providing an international platform to explore work in women’s leadership.
Kanchan knew she had to be in London to do this work. It has a deep history of global initiatives and supporting diversity. She knew that if she was going to expand her skill set, it was going to be at this international platform. Being in London would provide the opportunity to participate in conversations, share her skills, and learn from individuals already doing outstanding work in the field.
Can you tell us more about your background and how you feel about starting a new chapter at this stage of your life?
I was born in India, and at the age of four moved with my family to a small town in Saskatchewan, Canada. I was fortunate to be raised by liberal parents in a very supportive community that gave equal choices for girls. Yet even within those conditions my parents struggled with raising a girl within Canadian society. Freedoms were possible for my brothers that were denied to me. I had to fight to make my voice heard, to be counted equally – and it was eventually. My journey has now brought me to a place where I want to help women of diverse backgrounds find their voice and lead themselves proudly.
Starting this new chapter in my life has been exhilarating, scary, invigorating, and discouraging. And at times this range of emotion happens all within one day. Life is exhilarating as I pursue my work supporting women leaders; especially those from diverse ethnic backgrounds.
In Canada I was part of a robust community of practice. Moving to London meant beginning that all over again from scratch. This can provoke anxiety and worry and yet at the same time introduces me to a whole new range of exciting people. The feeling of starting again brings with it such a sense of possibility and promise; unsettling me in a good way after I had been very settled in Canada.
My journey has now brought me to a place where I want to help women of diverse backgrounds find their voice and lead themselves proudly.
What are the challenges you are facing and how you deal with them?
To be fully present in London required me to release the longing for my comforts of my past life in Canada; letting go of where I was to be where I am now. This has allowed me to discover new things about myself instead of reverting to old habits. I also have a greater respect for my daily practices. It has always been important for my wellbeing to do daily meditation, journaling, and regular exercise. As I build a new life for myself, this practice has become essential to keeping a positive mindset.
The deepest challenge is to be comfortable with the unknown. I came to London to be open to all possibilities; this requires a deep trust in what life has to offer on the journey. I face this challenge by releasing expectations or preconceived ideas about what should be, and engage fully with what is directly ahead. Most importantly I focus on being grateful. I make the effort to engage with the wonderful city of London, attend the theatre, events, and lectures and am grateful for these opportunities.
What has changed from your routine since arriving in London?
The biggest change I feel is where I focus my energy. In Canada, the leadership position I held in healthcare dictated my daily routine. Being self employed in London, I direct my daily activities and so must be discerning with where I spend my time and effort. This requires me to be diligent in setting boundaries, identifying goals and building new relationships.
Another key change has been building my community. In Canada I was blessed to be part of a robust community; and here I am discovering which communities I can serve best. There is excitement in that, as I discover the generosity of people around the city.
I face challenges by releasing expectations or preconceived ideas about what should be, and engage fully with what is directly ahead. Most importantly I focus on being grateful.
How do you connect with people and extend your network? Is this important for you?
To me networking is the process of building my tribe. I look to see where I can be of use and what will continue to support my development. I can build connections quickly with people, which is a great asset in this process.
I extend my network by connecting with like-minded people in my fields of interest. This has connected me with colleagues in coaching, healthcare and supporting women leaders. I love learning and fulfilling that need by taking workshops and lectures that connect me with colleagues and new and intriguing people. Three of my dear new friends are in fact three women I met at my first workshop in London.
How did you experience Christmas for the first time in London?
Growing up a small town in Canada with long dark winters, Christmas was a great highlight and holds great memories for me. It has always been festive, filled with music, sparkling lights and extra kindness and laughter. So with this, I am already a person who finds Christmas magical and London has taken it to new heights for me.
I went on a Christmas lights walking tour, visited winter festivals at both Hyde Park and Victoria Park, attended Carols by Candlelight at the Royal Albert Hall, and spent Christmas Eve in Paternoster square watching the Carol Service at St Paul’s Cathedral. A lovely surprise was the fake snow on Oxford Street that brought a bit of Canada to London. I had heard of how London is transformed over the Christmas holiday and it was a privilege to experience it first hand. London at Christmas is truly magical.
What are your plans for 2015?
The plan for 2015 is to continue expanding my practice of executive coaching. I will be working with two coaching groups as well as further developing my private practice. I will continue to focus on supporting women, especially those from diverse ethnic backgrounds. I will be part of an OXFAM program visit to Odisha, India with Asian Circle UK. This programme addresses the issue of domestic violence through building support centres in police stations, influencing local communities and working to implement the Domestic Violence Act.
I will also be returning to Canada in June to celebrate my father’s 80th birthday. I look forward to continuing to explore London, and to take quick trips into Europe.