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Meet Louise - What's in your bag? CEO of Alifery

April 27, 2021 6 min read

Louise Hvala - Alifery CEO

What’s In Your Bag highlights pieces of inspiration in the daily lives of amazing She Lion community members and uncovers out what their essentials look like to conquer the day. 

Louise is an inspiring leader of multiple successful businesses. Louise is intensely generous with her expertise and time to support other women in business and we loved hearing a little about how she faces the challenges of running multiple businesses.

You own 3 successful businesses? Tell us about them...

The first business that I started more than seven years ago is a recruitment agency specialising in legal called Gatehouse. I'm the CEO.

From that, and being in that traditional recruitment space and dealing with traditional recruitment roles, I saw that there was a need for a tech platform which allowed for lawyers to take on projects on a contract basis. I established Alifery back in 2018 - that's a tech SaaS platform which we use for Gatehouse when clients need lawyers on a contract basis.

We also white labeled the product in 2020 and now we're selling it as a SaaS product to other recruitment agencies. 

The third business is a new one, which we started during the start of the COVID pandemic is Maeja gifting. It's totally different to the recruitment business and the tech business and a different world that I'm tapping into.

We thought we can create something really special once we're done and our candidates and clients can get that as a gift because it's actually really beautiful. It's all aligned to Gatehouse and is mutually beneficial.

My mum is retired is actually the person who puts our gifting boxes together - she loves it because it's giving her a new purpose in life. This is her first real job. She's always worked hard. She raised us, she's done cleaning duties and cared for the family. Now she's getting payslips and paid super. She's using a computer. She's never had to use one.

This has just been great for her. I want it to be successful, but my goal is just to making sure it does enough so my mum has work and is learning new things. That's the best return for me I could possibly get.

Tell us about pivoting to a tech platform like Alifery? 

When I started Alifery, I just jumped into it. I didn't think about it. I just thought, "I just want a developer. I tell them what I do, they develop it and that's it." That's how I thought of it.

First I found a developer overseas in the Philippines because I thought, "Okay, it's going to be cheaper. They're going to do a better job. Great." I didn't have any UX designs done first or product roadmaps and (in hindsight essential) things like that. I had none of that. I kept saying to developers because I wasn't sure how long things took, I just said, "Oh yeah, when you get it to me, that's okay." There was no deadlines. This went on for months and months.

I was very fortunate in the building I work. I jumped in the lift one day, there was a gentleman in there and he'd seen me around and asked, "Oh, what do you do?" And I said, "I'm in legal recruitment." Because we were working on the same floor. He was in different offices.

I asked what he did and he said, "Oh, we're in energy." and he told me his name. Later on, I stalked him on LinkedIn. I found out he was the CTO of an ASX listed company!  So I sent him a message on LinkedIn. I said, "It'd be great to catch up for coffee. I might need your help in the future."

It just happened from there and he's been guiding and mentoring me ever since. I am grateful to myself for having the tenacity to follow up.

He helped me get onto the right developers, right processes, right everything and now when I've got a question, I immediately email him and I say, I've got this problem. What do I need to do?

It's important to have great mentors, something you can never have too late.

3 businesses! How do you find the time? 

I execute quickly. As soon as something comes back in, I just think of a tennis match. I try and get that ball on the other side as quickly as I possibly can or I delegate.

If something is five minutes or less, I do it straight away. I do it immediately and I get rid of it. If it's going to take me more than five minutes, I then allocate it or I schedule it in my calendar and then I'll execute it at a time when I know I've got capacity to do so.

I also lock out downtime or blank space in my calendar. This allows me to create and plan. I schedule my weeks, my days, I plan every day, I plan every week and I know what I want to achieve in a month. That's how I split my time.

I also schedule my email checking time. I might check it three times a day. It's a little more with Alifery sometimes as we haven't automated communications just yet, but when I was running Gatehouse alone, I would always have scheduled time in my calendar saying, okay, I'm going to check my emails then, and then I'll check them here.

My goal is always to have a zero inbox every time I check my emails.

Without getting too distracted by awesome business advice... What's in your She Lion bag?

I own multiple SL bags, but the one I use the most at the moment is the Negotiator Backpack.

I always carry a notebook with me because ideas come up and I'm a visual person - if you go through my notebook, there's scribble everywhere. I love that there is a space for my notebook at the back.

I always have chargers for my iPhone, laptop and connectors and things like that. That was in my bag as well pre-lockdown. Then, it had some lip gloss, mints, business cards. I also had a business plan in there. Pens, an umbrella and sunnies. 

Is an essential item you think everyone should have in their handbags every day?

Yeah, I think chargers always. I've got chargers in every corner. I don't know how much I've spent on chargers, but you just don't know when you need them.

And having a notebook because you might get an idea and it's so good to jot it down because you can draw pictures, you can scribble, you can do diagrams. I like to do the mind maps. 

That will be my two essentials, chargers and a notebook (and a pen, obviously).

If your collective business experience was in a handbag, what piece of advice would carry everywhere?

Someone once told me, "Louise, when you want something badly in life, there's going to be one of three answers. It's going to be:

  • 'yes',
  • 'not now', or
  • 'there's a better way'."

It's so good because 'no', is not in that answer.

For instance:

'Yes' - you can get that job promotion, you can get that pay rise, you can get that new job or whatever it might be.

Or, it might be 'not now' - simply because you're not ready. You need a few months or another year under your belt for training and skills, up-skilling and maturing, self development.

Or, 'there's a better way' - it might be, there's something, just be patient. There's going to be another opportunity for you, a better job, a better business idea, so just be patient there.

That's really stuck with me because now, I mean, we bought a house on the weekend. I was sitting there and I wanted this house. I said to my husband, "We're getting this house. We need to make it happen." 

Anyway, it was 10 hours of negotiation on Saturday. We ended up signing, but I said to my husband, "I can't deal with the negotiation. I'm just going to go do my work, it gets me off that." But I kept saying to my head, "It's either going to be, yes, you're going to get it. It's going to be not now. It's going to be something better."

That really helped because there is no room for negativity in there. 

Thank you so very much for spending time with us Louise, we love hearing about how She Lion can help you make the most of your day you have SO MUCH great business advice to share.

Want to share “What’s In Your Bag?” We’re always eager to share your story, your expertise and find out how you conquer your day. We’d love to hear from you on enquiries (at) shelion (dot) com.

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