This is COSMIC summer 1997 – six months before I joined. Making plans for the organisation to go forward – succeeded in getting Lottery funds, set up internet café, running some local training – what next? They needed business development skills and someone who could ‘sell’ the services … me!?
I joined straight from district council – research, policy, ICT – but I had a background in business – family run motor repairs – and I knew about how to run a good business from my parents. I had no experience of managing people – plenty of managing projects and influencing decisions. I didn’t really see myself as a sales person either! And as you can see this was a male dominated environment – as is the ICT world generally.
As we developed our profile, things started to happen and change. Focus on social objectives – working at local events – this is summer 1999 we set up an internet café at Honiton Show! … complete with satellite connection to internet. We didn’t see it then – but this was leadership in an organisational sense – and young people were doing most of the leading.
Also summer 1999 – internet café at Devon County Show – and our own internet café at Ottery St Mary - and this time a focus on a different client group! … reactions to the internet, computers and learning ranged and still do .
We continued to challenge and lead – putting a mobile unit on the road and taking it all over Devon, Somerset and SW – but also to some large national events to demonstrate how ICT could get to rural areas. For me this was the first big project I led and put into place – ORBIT. What a thrill. In three years we trained over 5000 in this outreach programme – young and old, from never been online to making their own video – 2001 – 2004.
And at the same time we bought and refurbished our own centre – Ridgeway House. It was on completion of this project that I took over as CEO – summer 2002. From complete novice to manager/leaders in 4 years! Excellent team around me – total belief in our work, and an enormous amount of courage and seat-of-my-pants attitude got me to this place!
People started to visit us – and we became a regular case study – why? I welcomed all the PR and publicity But what was it that made us stand out? What should we know about ourselves and how could we get even better?
Leadership – focus on developing people through our organisation and my personal approach. Becky and her journey. Pride and passion – but always with purpose
Focus on individuals within a great team –developing skills, ensuring everyone got to propose ideas, everyone was a leader in my team. Reputation grew, new projects were developed, we also focussed on quality and professionalism during these years. Social accounting and strategic management
New roles – Chair of RISE – Social Enterprise Mark – providing a leadership role for the whole sectorwww.socialenterprisemark.org.ukBoard of SEM Co – now independent company – 260 mark holders and growing, Peter Holbrook, Dai Powell, Penny Newman
What makes a social entrepreneur tick? … passion, pride, purposeHow do we cope with values and business objectives – need to understand the push-me/pull-me
Unique organisations coming together,Retaining their special talents and functionsAND,Building stronger, more diverse delivery,Adding value,Learning from others
Strong leadership based on collaboration, co-operation, shared ethos/values/mission – all mean that we learn to fly in the same direction and with a greater impact and effect
June of this year – appointed Acting CEO of RISE having been Chair for over three years. Importance of networking and partnership is now my job – and we need to secure strong working partnerships across all sectors and with the keen support of HE in order to maximise opportunities presented – new BIS plan, Big Society, NHS reforms, social demand for new business – more ethical, community-led and more focussed on benefit for social and environmental purposesExciting and challenging times – what future is there regionally, social enterprise, big society ….. More in the workshop!
Julie HarrisChief Executive of Cosmic and RiseSocial Enterprise
Social Enterprise There are approximately 62,000 social enterprises in the UK with a combined turnover of £27 billion Social enterprises account for 5% of all businesses with employees and contribute £8.4 billion per year to the UK economy The social enterprise movement is inclusive and extremely diverse, encompassing organisations such as development trusts, community enterprises, co-operatives, housing associations, social firms and leisure trusts, among others.
What do they Do? There are social enterprises working across all sectors of the economy, from healthcare to hospitality, retail to recycling. Some of the most high profile include Fifteen (pictured), Divine Chocolate, The Big Issue and more locally Eden Project If you want to change the world and make a profit while you’re at it, then social enterprise is the smart choice.
COSMIC ICT Services Web Training Tech Support Consultancy ICT Projects SW ICT for third sector Digital Mentoring UK Online/NLDC