Live long, live in abundance, and prosper!
How a Trekkie and a futurist are changing the way we think about change.
If there’s one thing you need to know about Dr Roze Philips, it’s that she relishes a challenge. So in 2018, when the big South African bank she was working for separated from its UK-based parent company, Roze rubbed her hands in glee.
As a Group Executive of People and Culture at the bank, she was in charge of driving “people change” at the revitalised organisation.
The bank’s then-new slogan, “Bringing possibility to life”, resonated with Roze. It aligned with what she had been working towards since realising her lot in life was “abundance”.
Not abundance in the sense of accumulation of wealth, but in the sense of an abundance of potential, opportunity, and possibilities.
“As a teenager, I grappled with my place in the world,” says Roze. “I didn’t come from having a lot, and my parents told me, ‘Do the best you can, but you’re black, you’re a girl, that’s your lot in life.’”
That never sat well with Roze. In a moment of epiphany, she realised she could in fact experience anything, try anything, and create opportunities for herself.
“My lot is not predetermined,” says Roze. “My lot is what I make of it. My lot is abundance.”
That lightbulb moment, followed swiftly by a “50-year-old midlife crisis”, led to Roze leaving the banking sector and launching Abundance at Work, which she describes as a “mature startup” aimed at improving how the world works.
“I realised that if I was going to achieve my purpose of unlocking untapped potential and contributing towards a world of abundance, I needed to do it on a global scale. For me, global is Africa. I’m an African. There is so much potential on our continent. This is where I want to make a difference.”
Roze’s first step was to find someone who values learning and has the same mindset as her, someone who also wants to unleash abundance in the world.
And that someone was Gill Cross, a learning designer and leadership development expert. Gill is also a Trekkie — a Star Trek devotee — who credits her love of sci-fi with giving her the skills to imagine all sorts of possibilities, a crucial skill set for an agent of change.
“Roze is a month older than me, and we were both having a 50-something midlife crisis. So we are a mature start-up in many ways,” chuckles Gill, who has an MBA and a Master’s in Moral Philosophy.
Gill was not only taken with the idea of helping businesses unlock their abundance, but she was also smitten with the name of the company.
“Abundance at Work means abundance is always busy,” she says. “It’s at work, and it also means there’s abundance at the workplace.”
Abundance at Work was launched in June 2022 as a leadership and learning development consultancy, to “help businesses solve for dignity and unlock people’s abundance”.
Gill and Roze spend a lot of time thinking about change.
“At a cellular level, we’re growing old by the second,” says Gill. “So, intrinsically, we’re always changing, whether we realise it or not. The issue is how to direct that change with agency into a future where you think quite optimistically about your place in it.”
That doesn’t mean that the future needs to be perfect, adds Roze. “We believe that the future needs to be inclusive, and once you create an inclusive future, you create a sustainable future.”
Part of Abundance at Work’s mission is to help people recognise that there is a science to change, and that the science is available to all of us.
With this in mind, Abundance at Work and BrightRock have teamed up to help people understand that change is your friend.
“If you can make change your friend,” says Roze, “you can make uncertainty your friend. And if you are at peace with uncertainty, you might surprise yourself with the possibilities you can unlock in your life.”
Gill and Roze are living proof of that proposition.
“We’re two 50-plus-year-old women who have embraced change,” says Gill, “and that’s taught us that in life there are more possibilities than constraints. It just depends on your point of view, on your mindset.”
Since Roze’s epiphany as a young girl, she’s been seizing opportunities. That’s why she has a medical degree, an MBA, and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Future Studies.
She’s also a podcaster, writer, lecturer, speaker (she’s been called “Africa’s favourite futurist”) and radio show host.
In other words, she lives abundantly.
“The day I close my eyes for the final time,” says Roze, “I’ll be all worn out, there will be nothing more to do, nothing more to experience, and I will be content.”
*You can get better at navigating change. Enrol to our Change Programme, an interactive course based on decades of science, that can help you find the growth and opportunity in all change.