Turning Business Capital into Social Capital

Cyrenians recently had the privilege of being one of 3 hosts for PricewaterhouseCoopers UK Responsible Leadership Programme, run annually by the firm in association with Common Purpose. This involved 7 partners of the firm bringing their suitcases and spending a month immersing themselves in our city, our cause and our charity and… well, seeing what emerges. While John and Andy came to Edinburgh, two other partners went to Derry and three to Sheffield. Their development challenge is to find out about themselves and their leadership abilities when put into an alien environment where they have no formal authority and no particular task. The month of living and working in Edinburgh was topped and tailed with residential courses, with hosts participating: the first to ‘detox’ the partners from their high speed executive lifestyle and prepare them for the challenge ahead, the latter to reflect, make sense and identify what they learned and carry forward.

In all my thirty-odd years in the sector this was the most powerful learning experience. I think it will prove to be the most productive, but time will tell.

Cyrenians are specialists in engaging with business. We enjoy productive relationships with great businesses such as Standard Life, Artemis, The Town House Collection and many others. We deliberately seek out and work hard at our relationships with businesses that share our passion for making a real and lasting difference towards a more socially successful society.

One of the revelations to the partners and the firm of the PwC Programme was this: They can make big differences in helping charities through just a small offering from their vast business capital. While here in Edinburgh Andy and John helped us realise that our social enterprises have way more growth potential than we were planning for. We’ve now up-graded our plans to go boldly; particularly in investing in the growth of the excellent CORE social business. Both Partners were surprised at the difference they made just using their day-to-day tool-kit of business skills. But the fact is that what to them is just a screwdriver is, in our world, a Dr Who sonic screwdriver!

PwC gives 6 days a year for each employee to go out and do good. John was left pondering about the times he had used this to don an overall and paint a charity room. Such things can be different and fun, but surely it is a better use of his (and the firm’s) resources to use his business acumen to help the charity to make a lasting change in its effectiveness and sustainability?


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