I really enjoy the wide variety of clients that I get to work with. From the local neighbourhood centre, to the large engineering company. I love to roll my sleeves up, get in there and work out what needs to be done.
Throughout my life and career, I have always been the one tackling the problem too big, asking the question too hard, or tackling the ‘to-do later’ in-tray.
So I decided to put this ‘skill’ to work in my own business.
My passion for business began from an early age, with my parents building up their businesses, during my childhood, it was a large part of family life. My brother and I were all always on the perimeters of what was going on and dinner time conversations were often about business matters; the affect of new tax laws, whether to lease or buy machinery and whether to hire new staff.
Before I hit 15 years of age, I had worked as a papergirl, a ‘dingdong Avon calling!’ rep, a shop assistant in a market, a toy shop, a video shop and a chemist; I also did invoicing, all whilst still at school!
Originally hailing from London, I landed my first job in marketing in the late 80’s. My career began in the London Advertising playground, where a little wet behind the ears, I joined my fellow graduates and entered the big agency world.
I think the ‘agency world’ drew me in, as I saw it as a real opportunity to hone my diagonal thinking skills. As a student, I had been identified as a potential diagonal thinker and then read about this hypothesis at college.
A diagonal thinker is someone who has the ability to think both creatively and logically. So for me, with what I do, the quest is to work creatively but with practical application. One of the traits of a diagonal thinker is to finish other people’s sentences, which, for those who know me, there will be a resounding agreement!
I loved the buzz of working in London and working alongside some of the industry greats, but as an early subscriber to Ekins ‘new economics,’ which had sustainable growth at its core, advertising per se, began to lack meaning for me. Marketing products that didn’t necessarily fit with my desire for sustainable growth began to zap my passion for my profession.
Anita Roddick was an early mentor of mine, with the opening of her shop in Brighton, she became the first woman in business to really pioneer the use of social and environmental campaigns to promote her business ‘The Body Shop.’ Since that time I have always had the fire in my belly for the philosophy of profit with purpose; sustainable and purpose driven business growth pioneered by the ‘70’s futurists, The Club of Rome and Drucker.
From my own extensive overseas travel and reading, I have observed that the business worldwide is shifting again. The ‘sustainable’ business model waxes and wanes, the last major momentum, as I see it was in the early 90’s. This current momentum to my thinking has been re-invigorated by the mayhem caused by the GFC and the weight of the ‘social media voice.’
Corporations are now feeling the pressure to better manage the balance between the business mission and the common good; consumers have to care more and business must seek to create enduring value and prosperity.
To me ‘profit with purpose’ can be defined as a 100% social enterprise like ‘thankyou,’ who after costs, give every cent to life-changing projects, through to a business supporting a local charity like Convoy by making a considerable donation, through to making ethical investment choices. It’s about individuals making a positive social impact and thinking as ‘we,’ rather than ‘me.’
The movement for profit with purpose and sustainable business is really gaining momentum in Australia right now, as a result of competitive tendering, NDIS and My Aged Care. For some, it’s natural that the massive changes that are taking place can be viewed as troubling, but I am really positive about the future of the sector and the potential for changing business models in general.
What is emerging as a result of these changes, is an increase in the number of ‘profit for purpose’ organisations as charities and not for profits are being forced to become more sustainable. These changes in funding and new world of customer-directed care, hail a whole new ‘user-chooses’ environment for many ngo’s and not for profits.
For me, as a marketer, whose purpose has always been to place the customer front and centre, I believe these changes are great for the consumer, who is now firmly in the driving seat.
I am already working in partnership with organisations affected by these changes. Specifically to assist in their transition to creating enhanced customer value, developing services that their customers want, and building their brand to be relevant and appealing to their customers.
I have also been working with smaller social enterprises and not for profits such as the Thirroul Neighbourhood Centre in a pro-bono capacity. My goal is to expand the pro-bono bank in coming years so that I can work strategically to grow the social enterprise sector.
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