David: ‘I just want to say that Championing Women is a very positive place to be – a really important forum to have’
Where are you based for work and what do you do?
I’m in London mainly but also countrywide. I support early stage social ventures and entrepreneurs and help them grow their business and raise investment if needed.
Did you specifically train for a specific job?
No, I was a management consultant with McKinsey and I chose a job that would give me the skill sets to work with individuals and early stage businesses. It gave me the tools and mentality to do what I do currently.
What are you doing now?
Well a typical day is face to face, one on one with entrepreneurs. So it can be acting as a sounding board, critical friend, someone to turn to with ideas or questions. I try and build my skills to make me good at what I do – I aim to build up trust. On the practical side – I help hands-on with business plans for the next 3 years and their financial modeling. So my day is hugely reactive – I try to instill planning into the entrepreneurs journey and in my own work too but the nature of the business is such that this is normal. (Sally – yes I can vouch for that as a social entrepreneur who worked with you! I frequently rang you urgently and you dropped what you were doing.)
What are your aspirations for your career in the future?
I am in a very privileged position – I’m working with people doing wonderful things. What’s important to me is that I know that I am making a positive impact on the individuals. I don’t want to be an entrepreneur myself – I’m a good right hand person rather than a founder. So I could in the future go to an early stage business to work in perhaps. I want to have an influence on the social investment market because it needs to change. (Sally – I’m tempted here to expand on this – but perhaps for another time…)
Can you tell me about a defining moment of your career?
I went down a career path that took me further away from what I wanted to do – I started working with a bank but 3 months into it I had a discussion about my work with my partner (now wife) – I admitted it was awful – it was draining me and I knew I had made a mistake. That was my moment of acknowledging to myself that I need to work out what to do next. Someone told me the 3rd job you take is the defining direction for your career, and that was the case for me. I really put some thought into what I did next. I talked to as many people as possible in different sectors and I also met a coach to help me get there. It took time figuring it out. I wanted a job with real meaning, a job with a purpose.
Who helped you along the way? Did you have formal or informal mentors?
The coach I mentioned and others such as my wife. I took a year out doing a low paid transitional type of role to get me the change I needed. Friends also helped too.
Have you ever considered a board/NED/trustee role?
No – I’m not actively looking for something, but I would like to at some point though. I do bits and pieces of volunteering but nothing formal.
What helps you to stay interested/excited in what you do?
I thrive on feedback from the entrepreneurs, and my team. I get a lot from that and there is such positivity around that environment. In particular I can see that the social investment world is changing and I’d like to think the work we are doing is changing that too. It’s evolving. It’s a long way from a formed market and that makes it interesting.