Karen Davies, Chief Executive, Purple Shoots has won a Leading Wales award for 2018. Leadership for the Future (Sustainability), sponsored by RWA:
Congratualations Karen and Purple Shoots for all the hard work you do! If you would like to know more or even support the work of purple shoots then why not visit their website purpleshoots.org
Here is what they said about Karen when she was notimated for the award and the responses she gave.
Karen is the founder and chief executive of Purple Shoots. She set it up 5 years ago to provide funding to individuals who are excluded from all other forms of finance apart from high cost providers, to remove the barrier of access to finance to allow the many talented and entrepreneurial individuals on benefits to realize their potential. She is responsible for all strategy and for driving the direction of the company, for raising finance both to run it and capital to lend, for maintaining proper processes to comply with FCA and other regulators, for promoting what Purple Shoots does to a wide audience and for the day to day lending activity as well as running a small team to develop and run the self-reliant groups.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I didn’t plan to be a leader. My passion and drive were to do something about the disadvantaged and social injustice I saw around me. In the end that meant creating something of my own to do it and drawing in other support and investment to work with me. My Christian faith has taught me to be bold and single-minded about following the right path and to be unafraid of striking out in a direction that goes against the norm, but also to respect and value every individual who I come across.
What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with Purple Shoots?
A major challenge which we face constantly is the need to challenge mindsets and attitudes towards people struggling with poverty and unemployment. There is still a belief amongst some that poverty in the UK is the fault of those who are in it and there is a very negative attitude towards people on benefits. This is a completely false understanding of the reality, but it hampers us sometimes in our ability to raise money and engage partners to work with us. An equally damaging attitude is the one which sees people facing disadvantage as problems to be solved when in fact they are frequently talented, resourceful and capable and need only an enabling environment and perhaps a small amount of financial support to realize this potential. The highlights of my role have been seeing so many people do this with our support, either through starting a small business or through our self-reliant groups.
What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?
Through working with those we serve and seeing them flourish and transform things for themselves, I have learned a deeper respect for each individual. I have also learned to be patient. My natural inclination is to make things happen, but it is far more effective and sustainable to be the enabler and to wait for people to do it for themselves, even if their timeframe is longer than I might like.
What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2018?
The biggest issue facing leaders in Wales now is I think the need to respond to uncertainty in the economy and changes in the way work is happening. There is a need to think differently and creatively to ensure that Wales is an inclusive place in every respect and that parts of the population are no longer left behind. Leaders in politics and business have different roles to play, but one thing we can all do is to continuously focus on and draw attention to the positives of visiting, living and working in Wales.
Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?
A contemporary Welsh leader who I admire is Rob Parsons, chief executive of Care for the Family which is a UK wide charity supporting families. He was a partner in a law firm with a good career ahead of him but gave it all up to do what he believed in. His charity now has a turnover of over £3.5 million with numerous offices but he retains the head office in Wales. His organisation has probably kept thousands of families from breakdown.
What is one word that sums up leadership for you?