WOW! Time has flown so quickly since winning the LG challenge in July and I almost do not recognise the council officer I was prior to the process.
Following my marriage in October, I now have a new sir name (from Fisher to Northey) and began a new job in Leeds City Council as a Commissioning Officer with responsibility for services for people with learning disabilities.
However, prior to these not insignificant changes, I had work to do and a project to begin.
I now had the responsibility to spend the £10,000 Bruce Lockhart Scholarship on the CSR+ project I outlined at the LG Conference.
The whirlwind had in fact started the Friday I got back from the Challenge final. There were A3 posters announcing my win in the lift on the way up to the office and my desk was covered in glittery confetti along with helium balloons and a card.
It was an incredible to feel the support of Leeds City Council so strongly behind me. However, as I sat at my desk I knew the real work was only just about to begin.
So, I was on the phone to businesses and organisations in Denmark with whom I had provisionally booked meetings.
I then booked my flights and hotels and began to work on my research for my CSR+ toolkit. I have to admit that I was slightly nervous arriving in Denmark in September, as it’s not every day you go on an international business trip in our line of work.
The next day I got started with a full day at global healthcare company Novo Nordisk’s headquarters in Copenhagen, which last year ranked first on Corporate Knight’s list of Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations.
The company was very supportive of the idea of the toolkit and had arranged a packed day of meetings with some of their top bods, who lead in the field.
While the intense day was hugely rewarding, it was also a bit of a wakeup call. Not having worked in the area, I was starting to realise just how much I didn’t know. So, more determined than ever, I went back to my hotel room that night and found the papers they had directed me towards and read into the early hours of the morning.
The late-night research turned out to be a bit of a theme of the trip.
The next day, saw me onboard an internal flight to Aarhus, where I would be attending the 2nd International CSR Communication Conference. This brought academics and business professionals together from around the world to discuss cutting edge research in CSR and how its external and internal communication can deliver value for companies.
I met some passionate people and made great contacts who offered to advise on the development of the toolkit.
One person was so keen on the idea, she invited me to spend some time at her company called Jøp, Ove & Myrthu which is doing inspirational work in advancing the communication of CSR to employees and to increase brand awareness. It was really exciting to be shown round their mocked up newsroom, including cameras which they use for crisis communication training.
I also had the opportunity to meet with the Danish Confederation of Industries and learn about its online tools available to help companies to work out their individual business case for CSR. Finally, before flying back to the UK, I met with the Danish Business Authority, which is responsible for Danish CSR policy and coordinating the actions of the Danish Government in the field. Over all, it was a wonderful trip and I gained valuable insight to add to the toolkit.
Unfortunately, a few weeks ago I had some bad news that the course I was planning to attend at Harvard Business School in March had been cancelled.
Although I was extremely disappointed, it opened up the opportunity to attend a six-day residential course in Seattle the same week. The course, entitled Leadership in the 21st Century, is also just around the corner from a one-day conference in Corporate Social Responsibility and Leadership which I will attend. Speakers at the conference include Senior Director of Corporate Citizenship at Microsoft.
I can’t believe how fortunate I am to have won the Local Government Challenge. It has given me such incredible opportunities to do and see things that I wouldn’t have been able to dream of without the scholarship. America here I come!