Sophie is an HR and Business Consultant with over twenty years’ experience. She was an HR Director for Barclays Capital before starting her own business, EI8HT, which she sold in 2008. Sophie now works with a wide range of blue chip companies and high profile charities. She is also the Chair of Fine Cell Work, a charity that trains prisoners in paid, skilled, creative needlework to improve confidence and provide financial stability and prevent re-offending.
What is your greatest professional achievement?
I should probably say selling my business in the summer of 2008, but it’s much more likely to be the day I heard Fine Cell Work got a grant from the lottery for over half a million pounds.
What does success mean to you?
In my role at Fine Cell Work success is when an ex-prisoner doesn’t re-offend as a result of our programmes.
Who’s most influenced you in your career and why?
My husband. His saying ‘let your reputation be your rank’ is a good one to live by.
Why did you become a Pilotlighter?
I wanted to change the balance of my life and use my professional skills to have a more positive impact on society.
What keeps you working with us?
Knowing that I can make a real difference to the trajectory of a small UK charity. It might not be the original outcome that was intended, and the path they take through the Pilotlight Programme is usually winding, but nine times out of ten positive change happens as a result of our work.
Tell us one thing you’ve learnt through working with us.
Patience! Now that I work predominately in the third sector, I use it every day.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Teaching and not doing. Mentoring can be a very frustrating process and I find myself wanting to dive straight in and do things for the mentee. I’ve been a Pilotlighter now for 14 years, and I’m still learning how to get that right.
What’s been your biggest surprise?
The talent in the third sector.
Has working with charities inspired you in any way?
Yes all the time. I am continuously surprised by the dedication and commitment of those working in the third sector, and actually, I’m usually inspired by the service users as well. So many people have had tough lives and it’s incredibly humbling to hear their stories.
Has being a Pilotlighter influenced you in any other area of your life?
Definitely. It’s actually influenced me as a parent. I’m passionate about getting my kids involved in giving back, and understanding that with privilege comes responsibility.
Describe the Pilotlight effect.
The confidence for CEOs to really go out and sell their charity knowing that the underlying business plan is sound and has been scrutinised by experts. It makes all the difference.
What do you think charities need to thrive?
A good story, good people, cash flow and focus.
What one question would you ask the next Pilotlighter (who does a profile)?
Has being a Pilotlighter changed the way you think about charities?