Nicci Peck – who is a mentor at our Catalyst Bootcamp next month, has told us about her career journey and experiences.
Job title: CEO SOFA Project
Qualifications: BA (hons) 2:1 English Literature & Language; Post Graduate Diploma in Careers Guidance
Why did you become an environment/sustainability professional? I’ve always had a keen personal interest in Recycling & Reuse and several years ago had the great opportunity to become a Trustee of SOFA Project which really increased my knowledge about Reuse on a more strategic level.
What was your first environment/sustainability job? Being the Chief Executive of SOFA Project is my first such role.
How did you get your first role? I’d been a Trustee of SOFA several years ago so was aware of it, but that had mainly been due to my experience in retail (another of my varied careers!) & I’d resigned after being involved for a few years. Just over three years ago I was working for a national charity managing projects helping people who were considered as long term unemployed to get into work; we supported ex-offenders, single parents, people with histories of drug or alcohol addiction, young people amongst others. The Chair of Trustees approached me to conduct a salary review of the staff and during the review mentioned that the CEO was retiring and they were going to advertise the role. I thought about if for about a minute & said I’d like to apply- cue several months of interviews with all the Trustees, lots of discussions about strategy & change management and I was eventually appointed to the role- my first CEO role.
What does your current role involve? As the CEO I’m responsible for the whole management and development of SOFA Project, in conjunction with the Trustees. SOFA is a very long-standing charity & social enterprise in Bristol however had stagnated during the last few years so a large part of my role has been to introduce new procedures & practices, moderinisng every single aspect as I go- not easy in the charity sector which often doesn’t like change. It’s been extremely hard work but very rewarding. It’s a true adage that the CEO is the busiest person in any business; I know virtually every aspect of the business (ok, I don’t know how to fix cookers & washing machines 😊) and have to be prepared to be completely flexible about what I do each day; I also get to clean the toilets when the cleaner is off sick – being a CEO is not remotely as glamourous as it might sound!
How has your role changed over the past few years? This role is a massive change to my previous roles where I was part of a senior management team; at SOFA I’m held completely accountable to the Board of Trustees for the continued development and performance of SOFA Project so it’s very pressured. However I’m very lucky in that I have great support from my Board which really helps; they’ve been really keen to see us modernise. The role of CEO in a small charity has had to professionalise considerably over the last decade and there’s still a lot I’d like to see happening. I’m also the first female CEO of SOFA Project so I also think that’s brought a different tone to the business.
What’s the best part of your work? Probably our work in the rehabilitation field; we have a partnership with HMP Leyhill and provide daily work placements to serving prisoners who are in the last 12 months of their sentences. The aim is to build up their soft skills- their motivation, confidence, self-esteem as well as provide hard skills which will equip them to get work upon release and hopefully not reoffend.
What’s the hardest part of your job? Dealing with staff who are resistant to change
What is/are the most important skill(s) for your role and why? A very strong work ethic; the ability to be ultra-flexible, and a positive Can Do attitude. Plus perseverance, perseverance & yes, even more perseverance. And oodles of passion.
Where would you like to be in five years’ time? Somewhere hot & sunny, possibly running my own business.
What advice would you give to someone entering the profession? Show that you’re willing to be flexible in what you do & passionate about what you want!
Contact info: Work mobile: 07788 408690 Work direct line: 0117 954 7808 Work email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicci Peck is one of our Catalyst Bootcamp Mentors – running a project on the theme of Resources & Textiles. To find out more and book your place visit www.catalysechange.com