At All Together, our mission is to help the founders and CEOs of British SMEs build better businesses by providing them with access to the guidance, insights, and valuable perspectives of vastly experienced business leaders. We do this in several ways, but the heart of our service is our one-to-one mentoring programme – where we connect our members with some of Britain’s best business brains for up to five hours of bespoke advice, every year – because we understand the pivotal role mentoring plays in nurturing leadership development and fuelling entrepreneurial success.


In this case study, we spotlight the journey of Anna Jordan, CEO of Alchera Technologies, who applied to All Together in January 2023. Shortly afterwards, we connected Anna with the brilliant Ivan Schofield, former MD of KFC West Europe, to help her overcome the challenges she was facing as a first-time CEO.

Six months on, we caught up with Ivan and Anna to gain a deeper understanding of their mentorship journey. From the problems Anna was wrestling with and the solutions Ivan offered, to how well those solutions worked out and the future of Alchera, read on for a practical insight into our 1-2-1 mentoring service and how it can benefit your business.

Trailblazing AI Solutions

Anna Jordan

Anna Jordan’s CV Highlights//

2023-Present // Co-Founder and CEO – Alchera Technologies

2017-2022 // Co-Founder & Operations Lead – Alchera Technologies

2017-Present // Open Innovation R&D – Cambridge Applied Research Ltd

2015-2016 // Researcher PHD Student – Institut Néel CNRS

Alchera Technologies is at the forefront of artificial intelligence, creating transformative AI and machine learning software that aids the development of safer, smarter, and more sustainable cities. “We focus on transport and mobility”, Anna explained, “primarily on local, regional, and national road infrastructure.”

Alchera creates software solutions which use AI to harness and analyse oceans of data to provide clients with constructive insights they can use to improve their operations. These software solutions often come in the form of real-time dashboards that clients – such as local authorities and bus companies – can use to monitor, review, and boost efficiency. “It’s all about finding operational efficiencies and simplifying workflows to save people time so they can focus on the important problems”, Anna clarified. “Our software represents a data first approach to finding evidence that can be used to focus decision-making.”

But Anna’s path to becoming Alchera’s CEO is as intriguing as the company she leads. Moving from a PhD in physics to developing a passion for practical applications and entrepreneurship, her career spanned multiple start-ups, and eventually led to co-founding Alchera in 2017. “In the early years, we didn’t feel the need to put labels on our roles”, she revealed, “but after going through the phases of business, we decided we were mature enough in our operations and structure to put more definitive names on our roles.”

Ivan Schofield CV crop

Ivan Schofield’s CV Highlights//

2017-Present // Leadership & Executive Coach – & become

2016-2017 // CEO – itsu

2011-2015 // Managing Director – KFC Western Europe

2002-2011 // Managing Director – KFC/Yum France

Embarking on the Mentorship Journey

Anna was made Alchera CEO in December 2022 and, as a first-time CEO, believed she had a lot of ground to cover in a short space of time to settle into the role. “Aside from a few weeks of work experience when I was sixteen, I’d never really been exposed to a corporate environment or worked in a more established business to know what ‘good’ looked like at that level”, she admitted.

This striking level of self-awareness led Anna to look for ways to develop her corporate acumen, and it was this search that brought her to All Together. She could immediately see the potential value in receiving 5 hours of mentoring from a seasoned CEO, and so Anna applied, seeking guidance for the obstacles she faced in her new role.

After a quick matching process, All Together connected Anna with Ivan Schofield, one of our most experienced Volunteer Advisors with an illustrious career leading successful businesses and sitting on a number of boards, in March 2023.

The Uncharted Waters of Leadership

Anna’s principal concern was mastering the subtleties of leadership as a first-time CEO. Having researched the role and listened to stories from other business leaders, she was aware that she would need to engage in difficult conversations, handle potentially volatile situations, and deal with considerable stress.

“Anna didn’t need help with the strategy of the business, so much”, Ivan clarified, “but she hadn’t had a corporate upbringing, as it were, so she wanted to know how to handle potentially difficult situations, like performance appraisals, and ways of delegating effectively whilst maintaining accountability.”

To empower Anna with more confidence to tackle those challenging situations when they would inevitably arise, Ivan offered several strategies that he uses frequently with his coaching clients:

1. Consider your words carefully

“One of the first resources Ivan gave me was a list of words”, Anna recalled. “It was a presentation containing a few awkward scenarios a CEO might face with words and phrases you should lean into or avoid in each instance.” The idea behind this is to make sure you can quickly fall back on considered wording to articulate how you feel about certain situations without saying something flammable.

Calmness is crucial to finding the best solution to problematic circumstances, but as Ivan pointed out, “Situations like appraisals often contain a certain amount of frustration, and that can be reflected in the words used by the individuals involved.” Having an idea of the words you need to use in situations like this helps them to run a lot smoother and allows you to avoid undesirable outcomes.

2. Plan your approach to conversations in advance

“A lot of the time, it’s the anxiety associated with the difficulty of the conversation that leads us to use the wrong language”, Ivan offered. “So, it helps a lot to hear the words you’re planning to use out loud because, if the vocabulary feels right, you feel more confident of staying calm and getting a good outcome.”

This is something that will become easier with experience, but the first few times you encounter such situations as a CEO can be daunting. Planning what topics you want to touch on, and what words you plan to use to ensure calmness is maintained, are both brilliant ways of reducing apprehension and maximising the chances of a productive conversation.

3. Lean into your natural authority

“A major part of what I wanted help with was getting the balance right to uncover my own style”, Anna shared. “I didn’t want to be too forceful or too meek in effecting the right outcomes in the team.” This is a common issue for leaders of all teams, be it in business, sport, or elsewhere, and is something Ivan has helped many people overcome.

“Leaders are most effective when they’re leading from their natural authority”, he clarified. “But when we’re under stress, we tend to communicate in a manner that’s either too strong or too tentative. In the middle, however, is a big channel where we’re choiceful about the strength we bring to a situation; we are flexible, but if necessary, we can be firm.”

The key to staying within that middle channel is to remember that you are the CEO and the authority you have is implicit. Raising your voice or being overbearing and bossy, for instance, have no bearing on how much actual authority you have. It is always best, and always possible, to remain on the spectrum of calmness, dialling up towards firmness, and down towards a more understanding approach as necessary.

The Loneliest Job in the World

One of the founding principles of All Together was to help alleviate the solitude that so many CEOs and founders share. With so much pressure on their shoulders, it can be a weighty burden to bear, so being able to share that with someone else can be invaluable. Anna echoed this sentiment by emphasising just how useful her relationship with Ivan has been in terms of dealing with stress.

“It’s startling how useful it is being able to candidly acknowledge the scale of the problem you’re trying to address”, she divulged. “Just having someone there who understands what you’re going through – having performed the CEO role, themselves – saying, ‘Yeah, that is a lot’, takes away so much of the emotion and lets you see and problems more rationally.”

Six months into the partnership, both Anna and Ivan testify to its value and the positive impact it has had for Anna and Alchera. In Anna’s words, “Ivan has been an invaluable support in the last few months. Alchera is steadily growing its Annual Recurring Revenue in line with our targets, and with new team members coming on board to accelerate the sales and delivery process, the future looks promising.”

Ivan’s observations about Anna also reflect the effectiveness of the mentorship. “I’ve certainly noticed an increased calmness since our paths first crossed via All Together”, he acknowledged. “She’s so bright and at such a young age it’s a real privilege to help someone like her.”

Beyond addressing immediate challenges and fostering growth, this mentoring relationship stands as an emblem of ongoing collaboration and mutual respect. Anna and Ivan have the ambition to continue their partnership in the future, too, maintaining their fruitful dialogue beyond the five hours quoted in our service.


We would like to thank Anna and Ivan for providing us with such a fascinating insight into their relationship as mentor and mentee. If you would like to benefit from advice bespoke to you and your business from one of Britain’s leading CEOs, apply to All Together today for up to 5 hours of mentoring, pro bono.