Zoe is an entrepreneur who founded a successful city firm. She has been a Pilotlighter for eight years and has just started her fourth charity engagement.

What is your greatest professional achievement?

My greatest professional achievement is starting my own company at the age of 27. I grew it to a sizeable business and it managed to survive and grow through the turmoil of 2008.

What does success mean to you?

Success to me means many different things. In a professional capacity it’s mostly about setting and achieving goals, and bottom line growth for a business. It’s also about developing a team to reach their full potential.

In a personal capacity it’s creating a happy home for my husband and children, and teaching them all the values I hold dear to my heart.

Who’s most influenced you in your career and why?

My parents. My father is an extremely successful entrepreneur and taught us all to have his work ethic. He gave me the confidence to start my own firm. My mother taught us that we could achieve anything we wanted in life.

Why did you become a Pilotlighter?

A very good friend of mine was a Pilotlighter and recommended it. I was extremely keen to do more for the charity sector and thought it would be a good match.

What keeps you working with us?

I absolutely love being a Pilotlighter. I find the whole process very rewarding and insightful.

Tell us one thing you’ve learnt through working with us.

I’ve learnt that in some respects the charity sector is very different from the commercial sector, but in other ways it’s very similar.

What’s been your biggest challenge?

The greatest challenge of being a Pilotlighter, is learning and accepting the different and often difficult circumstances some people have to deal with on a daily basis in their lives.

What’s been your biggest surprise?

I’ve been surprised at the level of commitment shown by everyone in the charities I’ve worked with. Especially the CEOs, who all go above and beyond expectations.

I’ve also been surprised by the funding environment, and how most small charities only have a buffer of three months cash in the bank!

Has working with charities inspired you in any way?

Yes. It’s inspired me to become more active in the charity sector. I’m currently exploring opportunities to become a trustee and also feel ready to mentor charity CEOs on a one two one basis.

Has being a Pilotlighter influenced you in any other area of your life?

Being a Pilotlighter has made me want to bring up my children with a strong sense of social responsibility.

Describe the Pilotlight effect.

The Pilotlight effect is all about helping charities to transform themselves. Many heads of charities have no choice but to focus on the day-to-day issues of running a not-for-profit organisation. Pilotlight gives them an opportunity to step back and take a more holistic view of what they’re doing.

Each charity I’ve worked with has gone through organisational change as a result of working with Pilotlight, and has gained a much clearer idea of the message they wish to present, and often, a defined funding strategy.

What is the most rewarding thing you feel one of the charities you’ve worked with got out of their experience with Pilotlight?

Each charity is different, however, on my most recent engagement, the charity walked away with a clear strategic vision and the knowledge and confidence to implement it.

What one question would you ask the next Pilotlighter (who does a profile)?

What do you think charities need to thrive?

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