Ian Moore looks at the benefits of removing yourself from the corporate space -- and getting a whole lot back.
At the start of this year, I embarked upon my first personal project in the third sector. This was done under the auspices of Pilotlight, a charity that matches senior business people with charities and social enterprises. During the course of a year, I am working with a team of three volunteers to offer coaching across our areas of expertise. We are applying the skills and knowledge we have gained in the business world to specific issues raised by the charity we have been matched with. The intended outcome is to transform how it operates during the course of 12 months, to leave it more sustainable and in a better position to expand.
We would not presume to know any better on the specifi cs of running a social enterprise or upon its particular areas of focus. However, I have been in the corporate sector for more than 20 years, as have the rest of the team I am working with, and this puts us in a great position to offer an objective, strategic take on broader business problems.
Our remit is to challenge processes and thinking within the charity, but it is not to take over and implement change ourselves. We dedicate just three hours of face-to-face time per month to the client, and a fresh perspective can be all it takes to help the charity help itself. It definitely helps any charity if people help fundraising efforts, but helping to shape and streamline how an organisation works is another equally valuable contribution. To give charities the best chance of longterm success, increasingly they have to think like a business. Pilotlight first came to my attention when I read an interview with its CEO in a national newspaper. The concept resonated with me but I then moved to Hong Kong with my job. Three years later when I returned to the UK, it was still something I wanted to explore. I am now working with a community charity with about 10 employees, helping those living on the margins of society. Th e beauty of a coaching approach is the time commitment absolutely fits around a busy executive schedule. You can flex your working day or simply take off a half day each month to suit. Any background reading necessary can be done on your commute, so it does not need to impinge on your family life.
Another key point to bear in mind is I am learning from the project. A charitybusiness partnership enables volunteers to develop a better rounded skillset and offers great networking opportunities. Plus, the ideas you pick up from other volunteers working in different firms, or in entirely different sectors, can often be directly applicable to your own career. I am sure a great many executives take great satisfaction from their professional lives, but on a personal level it is hugely fulfilling to be able to share your experience a way that will make a positive difference to others, while also helping you to recharge in your work life.
Ian Moore is head of partnerships at HSBC Insurance Group