Making waves… or trying to

For as long as I can remember, I’ve dabbled in initiatives around social change. Where possible, I’ve tried to support people who want to make a real difference. And I’ve combined the “day job,” be it in media or digital strategy, with an eclectic mix of other pro bono roles, official and unofficial.

A flavour of my roles

I had the pleasure of being on the board of a tiny NGO (ASH Ireland) which took on the might of the tobacco industry to make Ireland the first country in the world to adopt a smoking ban.

I’ve advised some wannabe entrepreneurs – mainly friends and family – about swapping the comfort and security of their permanent pensionable roles for the exciting if sometimes precarious journey to become either self-employed or entrepreneurs.

I have mentored female entrepreneurs and executives and am a co-founder of two voluntary initiatives which aim to achieve greater gender diversity in businesses. For NGOs, patient support groups and others, I’ve helped them to advocate for their causes and raise awareness for what they do.

Then came the label

Then in 2009 the label came – social entrepreneur. As Ireland sank deeper into economic crisis, and as media served up a diet of negativity, I felt that a new type of conversation was needed, one that was about solutions not problems and one which would involve citizens.

I set up and largely funded the Ideas Campaign as an independent, non-political citizens’ campaign to seek ideas for Irish economic renewal and recovery. Through crowdsourcing, and national and international PR campaigns, the Ideas Campaign generated over 5,300 ideas for economic recovery and renewal.

Why I do it

So what’s this part of my professional life about? It’s about being inspired by people who volunteer, who are passionate about what they do, who have big plans and who don’t fear failure. It’s about being open to new ideas and experiences. Ultimately, it’s about connecting with people who have ambitions and a shared vision about making a difference.