WOF morning coffee talks

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By Vicky Holdsworth, Founding Partner of WOF and Marketing Director at ProFinda.

Following a fantastic fourth WOF virtual meet-up last month, I grabbed a quick virtual coffee with one of our champions Jane Ginnever, Founding Director at Shift Consultancy to talk all things future of work and what she thinks of being part of WOF Network.  

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I began my career in customer service. In a way, I think that’s always driven my decisions, both in terms of my career path and also the choices I have made in different companies.

So my career started in customer service, and then I decided to join the Royal Air Force, much to many people’s surprise. After serving 7 years and getting loads of very useful leadership and management training and experience, I left and I ran a few organisations - mostly managing ’ activities like finance, facilities, HR, often all at the same time. I ended up with a lot of experience in how organisations worked and also how people worked within organisations.

I also did an MBA back in 2005- 2006 and as a result decided to specialise in HR. This is because I recognised that, in order for an organisation to achieve high performance working, we needed to organise work in a different way. A way that would allow people to achieve the performance levels we were aiming for. So really, from an early stage, my job has involved being a leader and working hard to enable my team achieve their potential. But I found that their potential wasn’t only limited or enable by what I did or they did, it was also affected by what our employer did Employers that didn’t help people reach their potential  found that  the organisation’s growth was restricted as well.

To try and change this, I moved into the world of HR and ended up doing three different HR leader roles. I was trying to have an impact from the inside, trying to align practices and processes within organisations to deliver high performance working - but I was hitting lots of barriers I ended up considering the whole employee lifecycle - from initial conversation, to recruitment, and then to on-boarding and eventually that person leaving and becoming an alumni. Effectively  everything that an organisation could do to improve relationships with employees past and present, and how to improve their workforce effectiveness. I had some success, but I still believed more was achievable for teams, employees and the organisations they work for.

Then, three years ago, having become  rather frustrated with the pace of change I was able to effect, I started a consultancy called Shift. We work with pioneering, forward-thinking companies that actively seek change. We have the specific aim of helping companies introduce more autonomy for employees. That’s really key, because autonomy is the way to motivate individuals and make work more than just a leadership-driven endeavour.

It has been great to be able to work with some really inspiring leaders that are out there wanting to do things in a very different way. They don’t want to follow the traditional models of command and control, with lots of power sitting within hierarchies, closed decision making and a very slow pace of change. They want to change it and to change it now.

Tell me about your general view of networks?

Networking has always been very important to me… throughout my career really. I had a good LinkedIn network before leaving employment and I do tend to keep in contact with people over a long period. I’ve moved quite a bit in my career so it’s great to be able to remain connected with people I’ve worked with.

Basically, regardless of whether it’s a formal or informal network, you can learn a lot from meeting other people and listening to them. I networked a lot in person when first setting up my business and I still do. People like to buy from other people (that they like) and it’s especially important in my line of work that people can get to know me and understand how I might be able to help.

What is the WOF network for you?

The WOF network has been great because it's full of like-minded people, all trying to change the world in their own way, and we bring a vast amount of experience to the table and can really help each other. It’s very supportive, collaborative, non-competitive. I’d always thought about business in a competitive way, very much about competitive advantage, but I have been amazed by how many people out there that genuinely want to help others. Particularly in preparing for the workforce of the future.

The WOF network is a place where you can go to learn, to meet other people who you can learn from, who you know will challenge you as well as support you. It’s a safe space where we can discuss our views, even those that differ. The conversations can be extremely thought-provoking and valuable. The regular meetings we have are a useful tool, the speakers are brilliant - they’re so open with sharing their knowledge.

How has WOF network impacted your business and how do you envisage the support of the network impacting that area?

It’s always nice to know that there are others out there with similar ideas. I really enjoy knowing that there are people globally that are wanting to move things forward, this isn’t just a London thing or a southwest England thing. It also represents what WOF network is all about.

Going forward, I would like to meet more people in the network in person, on a one to one level.

What impact do you expect it’ll have on other members?

I feel that a lot of people are waking up to these concepts now. It must be really reassuring to have something like WOF that tells them that they are not alone. To have opportunities to learn from their peers in different roles and industries. My focus is very much on the commercial side, for instance, and that experience is going to be very different from someone coming from the public sector. It’s great to hear about what’s going on in different sectors. To understand the broad range of organisations who are all experimenting with ways of working differently. That’s especially valuable to people who are coming to the WOF network for the very first time.

Want to join WOF network? Register your interested today.