Four and half things I’m proud of from my four and a half years at the British Heart Foundation

1. I worked with an awesome team

I’m proud of the team I’ve built, and how we’ve developed ideas about how the team should work.

When I started I was the only person on the team and now there are four of us, an Ecommerce Manager, a Senior Ecommerce Executive, an Ecommerce Executive, and an Ecommerce Buyer. I’ve always been keen that everyone on the team is a generalist and knows about all the different areas the team works in, and the other team members embraced this wholeheartedly. I’m also glad that we took the initiative to seize opportunities to do our own thing regardless of permission, and that we developed a team culture that took everyone as being on the same level (no hierarchical seniority) and supported each other whenever we needed it. A request for help from a team member was always higher priority than any other work.

2. I developed my thinking

I’m proud that I opened my mind to learn from lots of different people, both inside and outside the organisation.

I developed my thinking about digital and innovation in charities and not-for-profits, so much over the last four and half years, how changing the way we think is more important than introducing new tools and systems, and how an organisation causes problems for itself when it is always looking inwards.

I developed lots of my ideas about how teams work, how to work effectively and innovatively, how flexible working requires measuring outcomes-achieved rather than hours-worked, and how we can increase agility to be able to change direction quickly among so many other thoughts. All of this thinking has really helped me clarify my position on so many things about the present and future of digital, innovation and ecommerce for charities and not-for-profits.

3. I improved my skills

I’m proud that I learned so many things that were completely outside what I need to do my job.

I’ve learned how to write contracts and negotiate with suppliers, how to manage a team to overcome organisational challenges, how to deliver training that takes people’s thinking up into big concepts and then down into the details of processes, how marketing is really all about how the organisation sees itself, how logistics in the real world is so hard to get right but so important for the customer experience, and how providing great customer service is about fastest route to resolution, how to design and build chatbots, and how difficult designing and building large enterprise systems are, and so many more things.

4. I contributed to the cause

I’m proud that I worked for a cause that I wanted to support.

Over my time at the BHF we doubled the annual income achieved by Ecommerce. That’s more money for the life saving research that the BHF funds. I also contributed to the BHF outside of my role, donating stuff to be sold in shops., helped other teams increase their income, supported them to learn new systems and processes, built chatbots for them. Feeling that I have a purpose and am playing a small role in making the world a better place is important to me and what I love about working for charities and not-for-profits.

And a 1/2. I resisted the culture

I’m proud that I did all of the above despite the culture I existed in.

Despite a culture of no clear vision or leadership and shifting priorities we were able to become an almost semi-autonomous team and work on the things we knew could deliver value to the organisation, even if it wasn’t part of our role or didn’t show n our P & L. Despite a culture of guessing at targets, making decisions by opinion, not having much awareness of the 21st century world we live in, and not investing in future growth we were able to develop some understanding of what our customers wanted and deliver value that was out of proportion to our team size. Despite a culture of inequality of career progression I was able to support a team member to develop their skills, take on more responsibility, and achieve a promotion.

I’m only half proud of this because there shouldn’t be anything to resist.