We are all – businesses and citizens – living through unprecedented times with climate change, biodiversity loss, rising inequality and a cost-of-living crisis.
Time is running out to avoid catastrophic consequences and our choice is stark. Either we decide to change of our own free will, or change will be imposed on us by our governments, our customers, our employees, and our planet.
We are at a pivotal moment of transition, and opportunity.
I wasn’t looking for it, but this opportunity found me.
Diving into the research, I discovered that a clear, demonstrable commitment to sustainable business has become a key part of the buying decision. Every business has an opportunity to engage its leaders, employees, stakeholders and customers in memorable, experiential and truthful ways that contribute to deeper, longer-lasting, and more fruitful relationships.
Your opportunity is to lead your organisation towards becoming a sustainable, inspiring business, recognised for delivering wide-reaching, positive impact.
Your challenge is figuring out what this will look like, and what steps it will take to get there.
We know we need more genuinely sustainable businesses that allow citizens of the world to live happy, fulfilled lives within planetary boundaries.
If you aspire to amplify your impact, we will help you thrive so you can do the important work of contributing to the wellbeing of people and planet.
Today, and definitely tomorrow, businesses will do better by choosing to do good.
As a career marketer, I was feeling increasingly mis-aligned, tired, and unhappy with meaningless marketing exercises designed to sell more stuff in a mindless pursuit of growth.
In 2019 I attended a business conference and was introduced to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Grasping one, simple truth – that you can’t have inﬁnite growth on a ﬁnite planet – I knew I had to change course.
I threw myself into researching and redefining the role (and responsibility) of marketing in a world of overconsumption. As I reflected upon what this would mean for myself and the organisations I work with, I became increasingly convinced that the only business that would succeed in tumultuous times were those that could embrace purpose, rebuild trust and create brands that were powerful agents of change.
I developed a new methodology to help progressive business leaders define, articulate and embed purpose into their culture, to create a foundation of unshakeable trust on which to build strategy, talent and marketing.
On Wednesday 24th April 2019 I attended a business conference. But this wasn’t just any conference, nor was my attendance there ‘normal’.
When I could least afford it and had barely left the house in months, I made the trip to Edinburgh for the two-day conference. I had been suffering from depression and anxiety for quite some time; I was completely lost, and my business was on its knees. I remember it vividly – the bus trip to the venue; nervously standing in the queue to register; precariously balancing cup and saucer amongst a room full of strangers. I summoned every ounce of energy to look confident, when all I wanted in that moment was to return to the hotel and crawl back under the duvet.
It was on this day I learned about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for the first time, and that conference changed the trajectory of my business forever.
I had gone to this conference called ‘Give to Profit’ with a sense of sadness and desperation. I came out filled with possibility and excitement.
From economic development…
My career started when I graduated from Strathclyde Business School with a Joint Honours degree in Marketing and French. My work had been in ‘place’ marketing and economic development, having held positions with Scottish Enterprise, ClydeWaterfront Regeneration and Irvine Bay Regeneration Company (IBRC). I loved the variety of these roles, working to attract investment and jobs to the area, right through to engaging local communities and young people to prepare them for the jobs of the future. The underlying premise is that you don’t ‘do’ economic development, and regeneration is not just about bricks and mortar. It’s about the people.
For a long time I was incredibly fulfilled, thinking I was working towards leaving a place better than we found it, making a difference, leaving a legacy. However, increasingly it became clear that economic development is only necessary as it deals with consequences of a broken system that has inequalities and environmental degradation built in.
I became disillusioned, and left the sector in 2012 to set up my own business, without really thinking about how things might be different.
I didn’t appreciate how my career up to that point had made me very good at what I do. I was empathetic, compassionate, holistic, bigger-picture, long-term. I think back to the job interviews I did as a fresh-faced, eager marketing graduate, trying to get on the first rung of the ladder and going for roles with the Proctor and Gambles of this world, because marketing was all about FMCG – making already Fast Moving Consumer Goods move even faster!
… to marketing madness.
As a business founder, it was hard getting my first clients. All of a sudden marketing wasn’t about engaging with the people, it was about helping businesses sell more stuff. I didn’t recognise what was happening to me at the time, it was slow and subtle.
I was becoming ‘commercial’.
I learned how to sell the benefit of what I could do for my clients in the language of ROI, quick wins, data and analytics. And I was good at it too!
I was ‘successful’.
I was working at full capacity with a wide portfolio of clients and my business was turning over more than I’d ever earned when I was employed. I’d made it! The truth of the matter was I was so busy, I didn’t realise how stressed and unhappy I was, nor how far I’d wandered from the work that truly lights me up.
And then, in 2018, there were three deaths in my family in a short six months, including the sudden death of my dad. It’s at this point people usually take a short inhale of breath, and say how sorry they are to hear that. But I was estranged from my dad, having not seen or spoken to him in many years. So let’s just say that things that I thought I’d dealt with many years before came gushing to the surface, and knocked me sideways.
It was at this low point in my life that I suddenly realised that I didn’t actually like many of the clients I was working with at that time. It was like, for the first time, I could step back and see them for exactly who they were – business owners striving for growth and profit at all costs. And my marketing skills and experience were helping them do exactly that – sell more stuff and make more money.
Everything in my life began to fold in on itself as I dealt with all that happened and all that I had become.
I suffered from crippling anxiety and depression – then menopause entered into that heady mix!
I summoned the energy and courage to walk away from a number of clients who, I finally recognised, were making me exceptionally ill. And, with that, my business shrank to the point it barely had a pulse, while in parallel I lost all sense of who I was.
My self-esteem was on the floor.
THIS is where I was when I attended the conference in 2019.
I knew I needed to get better, fix my business and take back control of my life.
‘Give to Profit’ live was a conference about how business could be a force for good. There were around 100 people in attendance from all sectors. And what struck me most was how warm and welcoming everyone was – so unlike any business event I’d attended before. It seemed that the accepted form of greeting was a full-on embrace! It was on the first morning of the first day when I was introduced to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for the first time. It was all new. But I knew in that moment, I had found a framework which made sense to me.
People often ask me if this was an epiphany. And yes it was, in that I could see the way forward. But did everything automatically fall into place from that moment onwards? Not really.
It was more like I’d fallen into a very deep hole. In that moment, someone had opened the manhole cover and thrown down a rope ladder.
I had a long and difficult climb ahead. The difference was, now I could see where I was going.
… and a pandemic.
I slowly got better, and started to build up my clientele, and then in March 2020 everything came crashing down again.
But, do you know, the Pandemic was the best thing that could have happened to me at that time. I felt all the pressure was OFF. Yes, I had lost 80% of my income – again – but once I reconciled the difficult financial position I was in – I felt free.
2020 and 2021 gave me time to reflect deeply on what’s important. And I felt immensely grateful for all that I have – Paddy, living in a beautiful home in a rural area, and my health.
I used the time to get even clearer about my value, and what I could offer the world. For the first time ever, I knew it.
I believed it.
I am now building a business that attracts socially-conscious, purpose-led business leaders. I help them identify their purpose and measure their impact, create strong cultures, and develop authentic and powerful brands.
I use the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a foundational guide in our work together.
And I’ve developed my process, systems, methodology and approach to focus on purpose so that profit will follow.
This is the journey we take together.
From darkness to light. From confusion to clarity. From stagnation to movement. From helplessness to empowerment.
Purpose 2020 ‘Inspiring Purpose-Led Growth’,, Kantar Consulting
I live and work near the village of Sorn, in Ayrshire, Scotland. When it’s time for a break, I walk my dogs up the hill at the back, and then come home for a cup of tea. Simple. Sufficient.
I’m mindful of resources, of what we can generate, use up and conserve. I try to do more with less. I lean toward minimalism at home and at work. I enjoy a simple life.
At home I try to generate as much energy as the Scottish climate will allow, and insulate my old house the best that I can, to minimise my use of power, mindful of my impact on the planet.
In a similar way, I now take better care of my health; because our energy is a finite resource, and to do my best work I need to be rested and present. I manage my energy so I can do purposeful work. I believe the role of business is to be a force for good; that’s why I help businesses understand and commit to the positive impact they can make.
Simple. Sufficient. Sustainable. And so rewarding, when I can support business leaders to ‘do well by doing good.’