Finalists Women Social Leadership Awards 2013
What we are doing is the work that will be written in business textbooks of the future, not the textbooks of today.
My vision is to inspire businesses to find new and disruptive ways of activating innovation strategies to critically embed social and environmental value into their core operating principles.
The defining element of these new strategies is a focus on intergenerational value creation – the creation of ‘positive externalities’. To fulfil this vision, I am committed to connecting business leaders with social entrepreneurs operating on the front line of social innovation. I do this because my son will be 40 in 2050 – a year when there will be 9 billion people on the planet, peak oil, peak water, peak fish as well as at least 2 degree warming.
I want to spend all my energy helping make the world a place that my son's generation inherits as fair, just and sustainable as possible.
Our clients recognize they need change – and we help them reinvent their business models. We have helped them move from one-directional philanthropy initiatives into wider reaching, reciprocal partnerships with entrepreneurs – for example advising on HP’s transition from ‘social investment’ to ‘social innovation’ over the last 2 years. We have helped broker relationships that have led to new coalitions of actors working together to tackle issues related to global health, education, climate change and many of the other pressing challenges facing our planet – for example our work with Allianz in teaming up over 40 of their black-belt process experts with social entrepreneurs. Organisationally we register impact by looking at the ambition for real transformation of our clients, the openness they have to working with ‘unusual’ partners and the benefits created for end users/community from our work.
The biggest obstacle I face is to ‘un-learn’ lessons I picked up whilst completing my MBA and working in management consulting. Working in the social innovation space involves working on intuition and being bold enough to use it rather than relying on deep analysis. Being a ‘leader’ involves taking risk rather than following the pack and valuing relationships with people as *people* rather than simply as a means to and end. I have grown our business organically, mindful that more common growth strategies focussing on winning new clients and hiring more staff can erode the personal, specialised relationships we have built. We launched Volans in 2008 during the market crisis, when companies resisted change and froze their budgets. We have overcome these barriers by remaining confident that what we are doing is the work that will be written in business textbooks of the future, not the textbooks of today.
Charmian Love | Volans | UK