Meet the Pathfinders of The Room

Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. Oprah and Maya Angelou. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett. Our greatest heroes and trailblazers would not have become so without the advice and wisdom of mentors who enlightened their path. In The Room, we call them Pathfinders. Custodians of insight and experience, their work is shaped by a passion for guiding, advising, coaching, and connecting tomorrow’s leaders. Meet the Pathfinders of The Room.

Chris Rowse

The Room’s Chief Pathfinder and one of the world’s top executive recruiters for the last 14 years.

We all need a guide and a connector to push us beyond what we perceive to be our limitations.

Penny Handscomb

Seasoned Pathfinder, globally-recognised leadership development coach and senior advisor to The Room.

I want to see people go from innovative thinkers to change-making thought leaders thanks to strategic pushes into professional and developmental growth.

Duncan Steward

Senior Pathfinder in The Room where he is responsible for 300 members across different countries and continents.

I want people to realise their full potential.

Amina Islam

Young Professional Pathfinder in The Room where she helps graduates and young leaders map out their ambitions and navigate their careers.

You’re not tired; you’re uninspired.

Abel Kayakih

Young Professional Pathfinder who coaches recent graduates in The Room through their career development and trajectory.

Every interaction is a chance to build trust and it is more than just about the stories we share; it’s about making someone’s life better.

What does it mean to be a Pathfinder?

Chris: I liken being a Pathfinder to being a gym instructor. Sometimes you have to give tough love and tell the hard truth. Of course not everyone likes to hear it, but when people look back, they are often thankful for someone who’s able to give them an honest opinion and honest feedback. With a gym instructor, people don’t want to be told they’ve got to do another 10 reps, but they know it’s for their own good. Naturally, the willingness to take that feedback is based on a mutual agreement that’s set out early on, because people are only as good as the feedback they respond to.

Penny: Pathfinders help you feel seen. They tell you the difficult things that your friends and family won’t. They cheer you on, but they also help you to be vulnerable and turn your growth areas into assets. They can see two steps ahead of you since they’ve been there and they want you to get there faster and surpass them. They will be your cheerleader one day and your defender the next. Most importantly, your Pathfinder will inspire you to dream from a place of wholeness, hope and authenticity — rather than react from a place of fear, uncertainty or vulnerability.

Duncan: Being a Pathfinder is an exciting opportunity to change the way talent is managed and developed. I really enjoy working with entrepreneurs and citizens who want to improve society for the better.

Amina: Walking alongside some of the best talent and helping them unleash their potential is a fulfilling experience. It is especially fulfilling to help Young Professionals spot and avoid mistakes they might make early in their careers.

Abel: It means that I can be part of our members’ personal and professional growth. Their growth demonstrates that they are developing new opportunities and are contributing to something bigger than themselves, and that excites me. We all face a variety of circumstances, changing environments and new roles, so being someone who walks with others through their journey as they begin their career is the Pathfinder’s way of paying it forward.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work in The Room?

Chris: I’ve had the privilege of working in talent development for well over a decade now. Sometimes it has involved working with people at critical transitional moments in their careers when they’re looking to do other things, but don’t necessarily know what that is. As a Pathfinder, having the ability to ask the right questions, peel back the layers of obscurity and really understand what someone’s true ambitions and motivations are when they don’t necessarily know themselves is very rewarding.

Providing opportunities for top talent is another satisfying thing. Spotting and sharing opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be accessible, connecting members to your network and others in The Room who can help them achieve what they’re setting out to do — these things demonstrate the power of a Pathfinder.

Penny: I find it extremely rewarding to support talented, inspiring leaders to get further than those who have come before them. Facilitating connections, sharing insights and opportunities, and watching amazing talent continue to flourish makes my work worthwhile.

Duncan: The gratitude! Our members always remember to say “thank you” and acknowledge how we have helped them. All our members have admirable missions, so it’s wonderful to have an opportunity to act as a sounding board for them and provide assistance to take their next steps.

Amina: For me, watching young talent make big moves and grow over the span of only a few months is quite rewarding.

Abel: Witnessing members have ‘aha moments’ during our calls is great! The conversations we have make them not only realise areas of improvement but their strengths too, and how to nurture them.

What inspires you about being a Pathfinder?

Penny: I‘m passionate about talent and helping people envision that what is possible is even bigger than what they had imagined before.

Duncan: I have 6 years of experience in executive search and have seen talent management performed poorly, often with a lot of cynicism and ignorance about the possibilities. Being able to put my money where my mouth is and show that there are better ways to unleash potential is exciting.

Amina: I’ve heard a lot of anecdotes about young African talent being exploited in organisations especially early on in their careers, so it’s inspiring to empower them with the knowledge, skills and opportunities to own their career trajectory and not just wait for things to happen to them.

Abel: I recognise that the best talent are people who are naturally curious and consistently want to push themselves, learn and develop. Connecting with them and unearthing their motivations inspires me to be a better version of myself and learn from them.

Who are the Pathfinders that have impacted your own journey?

Duncan: I have to give a shoutout to Chris Rowse who presented me with the opportunity to work in The Room. Chris has been a big supporter of my career and I am indebted to how he has helped me on my own journey to self-actualisation. Sidee Dlamini, who heads up our Member Opportunities Tribe, has been an excellent mentor and leader since I joined The Room and has done a superb job at installing and maintaining a sense of morale in a complex and unorthodox environment.

Beyond The Room, I admire Warren Buffett for his intellect, prudence and good sense, as well as his almost unparalleled investment success. I always look to learn from those who can control a difficult situation, manage their emotions effectively in a crisis and enjoy finding something better than the status quo.

Amina: At any one time, I have close to 5 pathfinders who keep an eye out for me when it comes to opportunities that could propel my growth. They have been truly valuable in my career journey.

Abel: I’ve had incredible people — friends and colleagues — who have advocated on my behalf, especially in rooms that I was not in. They have shared opportunities that I wasn’t privy to and have been intentional about supporting me to maximise my personal and professional potential.