I had been looking at job descriptions for quite some time, trying to find something that would interest me, let alone wow me.   One that would invite a gut reaction of, That is so me.  I have to do this!  Until one evening in April snuggled up in bed under the golden glow of my mobile phone taking my final web-surf of the day there it was – gut gymnastics and internal dialogue that went along the lines of, That is so me.  I have do this!  Cue, _SocialStarters.

I had always kept my ear to the ground in terms of what was going on in the marketplace in case a dream opportunity should present itself.  I got a lot of satisfaction from my job, learned a tremendous amount and built great relationships but, in true Kiwi fashion, I had itchy feet and was ready for my next challenge.  By now I was actively seeking my what next?   However, the job market in London is tricky – recruiters tend to put you in a box and breaking free can be challenging unless you have the right networks.  Couple this with having the confidence to take a leap of faith means you also need to be resilient.  However, and I know I am not alone when I say this, the number one challenge was simply knowing what I wanted to do next – and how.

By education I am a contemporary dancer and by experience I support business. This is somewhat of a contradiction so I guess you could say I don’t really fit a box.  This certainly makes for a diverse  experience.  Through dance school I was always intrigued by how dancers could run sustainable businesses whilst producing authentic work.  I think this is why I am so drawn to the social enterprise model which blends heart with commerce.  

My commercial life has seen me support businesses from all sectors, including the arts, but most recently my focus has been UK manufacturing.  I’ve spent the past four years encouraging manufacturers to celebrate innovation, best practice and culture change – quite a privilege!  Through this work I have met passionate, focussed and creative business people of all levels.  I am inspired by their dedication, whether building something from scratch or improving the culture of a large workforce.  Business helps society tick.  Done well, It can be an enabler and offer wonderful opportunities to enhance the wellbeing of people as individuals and as members of their communities.  The commercial process can be incredibly exciting, particularly for those that do it with passion and authenticity and this is why I get a buzz from supporting people behind great business.

I’ve travelled a great deal and am transfixed by the beauty of culture.  I am a big believer that if you really want something you can have it but that you have to prioritise this in your life.  Whilst investigating my what next? my biggest revelation was to look outside my ‘everyday’ and surround myself with people that inspire me.  For me I’ve found this through coaching, reading, networking, volunteering and saying yes to things that challenge me the most.  

So, in actively seeking my what next? I came across Social Starters.  An opportunity to learn about the social enterprise business model.  An opportunity to support women in India who are actively challenging the status quo by developing businesses that will result in their economic freedom.  This perfect blend of heart and commerce will hopefully open doorways for all involved.  

Yes, this experience will challenge me loads but I have a sneaky feeling there might just be a little dance or two.

#JoinUs on a programme and volunteer with grassroots social entrepreneurs.

India – 24th October (6 weeks) || Brazil – 31st October (6 weeks) || India – 31st January (6 weeks) || Sri Lanka – 13th February (6 Weeks) || Brazil – 19th March (6 weeks) To apply, send your email with a cover note to info@socialstarters.org and clearly state in the subject heading which programme and what date you are applying for. If successful, you will invited to a Skype interview with one of the team!