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Ali Hanan

CEO of Creative Equals

Ali Hanan

CEO of Creative Equals 

The truth is I come from a long line of Neurodivergents. My father could never logic sequence and received an E for maths. He is the most talented artist. My daughter, Rosa, couldn't work out phonics and was put in a 'reading recovery' group at age seven. She still hates to read as she can't remember the words from page to page.

As a dyslexic, I find handwriting the hardest. My old art director used to refer to my writing as 'chicken scratches'. I've had to practice typing until the muscle memory is etched in my brain. So, as soon as I could touch-type, my world changed. One of my biggest challenges as a one-time creative director is writing on a flipchart in front of a client. I also get lost (a lot), can't read maps, lose important things all the time and find it hard to look at a spreadsheet for more than a minute. 

One thing I can do is create a vision for people to follow. I can see an idea, how it will work, who can bring it to life and what it looks like in words. That’s why I became a creative director. And, maybe that’s one of the reasons why Creative Equals has been a success. We paint this picture of the future - and it's one most people want to be part of. Our mantra is inclusion for everyone - and Neurodivergent are an important group here. Often this aspect of ourselves isn't seen and often stigmatised. As an entrepreneur, I've grappled with the commercials - money is not why I get up in the morning, but I now have an amazing team that helps. The biggest lesson I've learnt is the power of great people, who when they align with your vision, can help make everything happen.

Setting up events and programmes that create real change, like our #CreativeComeback programme for women returning to work after a career break. And, our Equality Standard, which shows companies exactly how to focus their D&I efforts with a review, rating and road map.

One of my dreams, as a woman growing up in a tiny town on the edge of the world in New Zealand was to travel. When I worked for other people, this never happened. Now I’ve been to Berlin, Belgium, and Barcelona (don’t you love B’s?). When Creative Equals first started winning awards, I was deeply humbled our work was recognised. I truly believe when people believe in what you do, the world conspires to help you achieve your goals. 

I have the most incredible ‘Advisory Board’ who teach me something new every time we meet. I’d recommend every ND woman finds her own ‘board’ to coach and champion her. I actively look for people who are calm, methodical and organised, and live in the detail. As a dyslexic, I often don’t know when to stop. The more tired I get, the more balls I drop so I’m learning to make sure I take at least one day off a week. My partner and my kids remind me work isn’t everything.



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