I began my career as a fashion designer at multi-national textiles company Coats Viyella, producing top-end womenswear, generating £ms in sales for respected national retailers. My industrial design experience was keenly sought in the ‘90s and I lectured on numerous art and design courses up to Higher National Diploma.
My career transition began when I became involved in my community and, as a volunteer, created a vision for a multi-purpose community facility. I drew together organisations and individuals and led them in what was considered an ambitious project. The low-energy, award-winning facility, the Regen Centre, opened in 2000. As chief executive I established several trading arms, with the social enterprise generating 70% in earned income in two years. This experience led me to my next role in central government, working for the Home Office, Active Communities Directorate and the Department for Education.
The combination of my social enterprise and civil servant roles prepared me for managing and transforming CDF, which I joined in 2005 initially for a six month interim role. CDF was originally established as a non-departmental public body and charity in 1967 with its role covering all four nations, working across policy, practice, research, evaluation, programme management. Following an initial period of vision-setting and strategic planning, trustees asked me to remain to continue the business development and culture change I had started. Over the next ten years I led CDF’s work building its portfolio and partnerships, managing £ms in contracts and grants across multiple policy areas and for all sectors, achieving operational efficiencies and a highly collaborative and productive staff team.
By 2011, on cessation as a public body and having managed several phases of organisational development and change, I had laid the foundations to enable CDF to swiftly reorganise and in five months I moved CDF to its independent social enterprise status. Trustees then agreed an innovative strategy from 2012 – 2016, investing CDF’s resources in mission-related and business development activity. This was in response to the severe effects of the financial crisis in communities and a desire to influence how local people and communities are best placed to shape service design and delivery and the places in which they live. A noteworthy achievement was securing the Big Local programme in 2011; this was the Big Lottery Fund’s largest ever endowment of £200m to deliver a resident-led programme over 10 years, in 150 neighbourhoods. CDF set up the new organisation to deliver this, Local Trust, in 2012.
In 2015 I began to look at strategic options for CDF beyond 2016. Whilst there was a healthy demand for CDF’s expertise the shift in contract size and local area delivery would have meant further reorganisation, taking time and costing money. And, as a charity exists to meet its charitable objects rather than perpetuate the organisation, I presented one option to transfer CDF’s assets to Local Trust, with its similar charitable objects and stable future. Trustees approved this and acting swiftly, in April 2016 CDF was able to transfer £850k cash and additional intellectual property assets to Local Trust and three other national organisations. The decision has commanded respect from many who regarded it as a strategic and brave decision and one that could be adopted by other charities.
In July 2016 the next phase of my career started. You can read about the pieces of work I have been involved in, in my blog posts.