From launching the UK’s first Ethical Careers Service to building my own ethical marketing consultancy business and becoming a jeweller by accident – here’s my story.
My first job after University involved launching the UK’s first Ethical Careers Service. I was lucky to grab this fabulous opportunity working with campaigning organisation People & Planet in Oxford.
Being grilled on Channel 4
I was already passionate about People & Planet, having been a student member throughout University. But I really was in at the deep end. I launched a magazine ‘Your Future’ from scratch – including all the writing and editing. I interviewed Anita Roddick, met the man who launched Innocent Drinks, created a website, was grilled on Channel 4 News by Krishnan Guru-Murthy, gave a presentation in front of 5,000 students and did all the admin of subscriptions and mailings myself. All this whilst also travelling the length of the UK to visit University careers services. It was an absolute whirlwind but it taught me more than I could ever have learnt studying marketing and PR in the classroom.
The service was the first of its kind – useful articles, tips and advice on how to choose an ethical career and make a real impact. We debated what ethical meant – can you work on the inside of big business and make a difference or is the only way to campaign from the outside? It paved the way for the wealth of information and advice that now exists for people wanting to step off the beaten track and pursue a career with passion. I’m proud to have played my part in that.
Pursuing my own ethical career
After that start, it was inevitable that my subsequent career would follow an ethical route – working for organisations I could feel passionate about and proud to shout loudly about. I don’t have a traditional marketing background and a degree in Archaeology and Prehistory and an MPhil in Material Anthropology and Museum Ethnography probably wouldn’t open the door these days. But my voluntary work with Oxfam’s Fair Trade team during my studies definitely did. It was that plus my being able to speak with personal passion about People & Planet at my interview that landed me the opportunity of a lifetime.
From Bollywood to Flying Scotsman
A career in marketing and PR followed, working for a wide range of charitable, public sector and arts causes. Communications for the North York Moors National Park Authority where I also had the pleasure of writing walking and cycling guides and interpretation panels that remain in the landscape along the Cleveland Way to this day.
Then it was the former Yorkshire Tourist Board and leading the PR for the International Indian Film Academy Awards when they came to Sheffield. Then I was Head of Marketing and PR for the National Railway Museum – encouraging visits to explore the wonders of the free national collection and the benefits of STEM learning. I left after leading a re-brand, re-launching Flying Scotsman following its restoration and delivering the best visitor numbers in 3 decades.
During that time, I also launched my own business Little Silver Hedgehog – jewellery inspired by nature and wildlife. It raises funds for my hedgehog rescue and awareness work that had been developing as a personal passion. I became a jeweller quite by accident. A night class in silversmithing – one of a long line of crafts I’d tried out. I started making things for friends and family, soon learnt that they didn’t each need 50 pairs of earrings, realised that jewellery could help raise funds for hedgehogs and a business was born!
Making a difference as a freelancer
I made the leap into freelance six years ago, hoping to use the skills I’d built up over the years to make a real difference to other charities, non-profits and businesses. It also gave me greater flexibility to pursue my wildlife rescue and awareness work. Today I work for a wide range of clients but they all share one thing in common – I’m absolutely passionate about what they do. It means I can stand up with conviction and help them shout loudly about their work and gain the profile they deserve. My client list includes a 3-year long arts project in Selby, the National Trust, a housing charity in Leeds, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and a school.
There have been tough times – losing most of my work during Covid and the occasional crisis of faith. But the feeling I get when I know my words have helped gain more donations for a charity or I’ve taught a volunteer how to write a press release cannot be beaten. I’m so grateful to all the people I’ve worked with over the years who have recommended me – meaning I’ve hardly ever pitched for work – it all comes from word of mouth. Plus the growing network of other freelancers and small businesses who’ve supported me – often going the extra mile because they are also so passionate about the organisations I’m working with.
Follow your heart
My top tips for your ethical career:
♥ Follow your heart and work for organisations and causes that you can be personally passionate about.
♥ Continually build your skills and experience so you have more to offer as a cause-driven marketer.
♥ Giving gives. Going the extra mile for your clients and speaking from the heart means you will always be recommended and the right organisations will find you.
♥ Give back. As your business grows consider donating part of your profits to a cause that fits your brand – it all helps increase the positive impact you can make.