(Email to UpRising staff on my last day 29.3.19)
My gosh what do you ever say on your last day in an organisation? I've been thinking lots of thoughts over the last few weeks as this day got nearer and now it's time to put them down.
It's truly been a huge privilege to have been the Chief Executive of UpRising and I'm very sad that I can no longer use my favourite line (see heading).
I've learned so much during my time here. It's been hard work. I won't pretend it hasn't, but we're making a difference at such an important time for our country and the people who most need effective leaders. The knowledge that we're literally changing lives with the work we do has really helped when the going's got tough.
There are so many stories of lives changed from my time here: the UpRiser who's now a councillor in Fallowfield, Manchester where I cast my first vote in the General Election 1987, the UpRiser who challenged Rushanara Ali MP in Bethnal Green and Bow in the General Election 2017, the single mum telling me how much UpRising had helped her believe in herself, the young woman who never thought she could stand up in front of a room full of people and yet blew us away with the power of her words, the brilliant UpRisers who've become colleagues, friends, and trustees plus the countless stories that I haven't even heard yet.
Being a Chief Executive is a funny job. It's a combination of the everything and the everything else and finding the right balance can be really tough. You've got to make sure all the plates are spinning, but at the same time if one's about to drop and there's no one else to catch it, it's up to you. The trick is to make sure you've got people around you who are covering those plates between them but know they can come to you when they need a hand. As an example of how varied this role can be, I've had the enormous honour of representing UpRising to the Queen (yes, that Queen - photographic evidence on the wall of the London office). I also hugely enjoyed clearing up after all the ceiling tiles came down on my desk following a flood upstairs in our old office. The moment when I was walking down Tottenham Court Road and got a call on my mobile to tell me we'd been awarded the Act for Change funding was a highlight too.
The main thing I've learned is that a Chief Executive is only as good as the people around them and you are truly an excellent team. Please remember all the things we tell UpRisers about leadership and particularly leadership in a time of change.
You're all leaders and you're excellent. Keep in touch.
Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.