In July we welcomed a new Director, Maggie Berry OBE, to Heart of the City. Maggie joins us having previously been Executive Director for Europe at WEConnect International, an organisation championing supplier diversity in procurement and helping majority women-owned businesses to connect into corporate supply chains.
Welcome to Heart of the City, Maggie! Could you tell us a bit about your background and why you wanted to join us?
I’m excited to be on board and to have the opportunity work with our amazing team and our network of supporters. There are lots of new people for me to get to know including our trustees, board advisory panel, council members and SME members, which I’m looking forward to!
I had been looking for a new challenge after 8+ years of leading the European campaign for WEConnect International – a corporate led non-profit championing supplier diversity which is the concept of big business buying more products and services from under-utilised suppliers. When I saw the HotC role advertised, I felt it was a good fit for my skills and commercial experience so I was delighted to be offered an interview and then the job itself!
My role at WEConnect International involved developing corporate support, stakeholder management and hosting events. It was also about growing and developing a network of women business owners across the Europe, so all skills that will be relevant at HotC.
Prior to joining WEConnect International, I set up and ran Women in Technology – an online job board, recruitment and networking forum for women working in technology in the UK.
In my spare time, I continue to be informally involved with championing women in technology (you can follow @womenintech on Twitter) and I am a Freeman of the Information Technologists Company. In June 2019, I was honoured to be awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to women in business and technology.
Are there any responsible business areas you’re especially looking forward to knowing more about?
Responsible business is a hugely interesting area but it’s broad and it can be challenging for small businesses with limited time and money to know where to start. That’s why the resources available from HotC are so valuable. I’ve learned so much simply from reading through our resource hub which have four key focus areas – community; environment; people; purpose. It’s our work around climate action and how we support SMEs with starting their journey towards net zero that I’m most looking forward to supporting. I want to let all SMEs know they can be a force for good and that there is support available to help them do it!
What are you excited about for Heart of the City’s future?
So much! The organisation has an amazing 20+ year legacy of supporting SMEs in London. I’m excited about our growth through the use of a new digital delivery platform which means we can reach many more small and medium businesses in the capital but also across the UK. COVID has led to many companies embracing online working practices and the HotC team has maximised this opportunity to revise our foundation programme delivery to make capacity for future growth. I am also really excited about the focus on climate action – this is such a timely topic and all businesses (small and large) need to be working towards net zero. HotC has created a practical training programme for SMEs that – amongst many things – will support them in baselining their existing carbon footprint and creating a plan for reducing their impact in the years to come. News from around the world in just the last few weeks – flooding; wildfires and record-breaking temperatures – shows that there is an urgent need for business to change its practices. As SMEs are the backbone of the UK economy, they actively need to play their part too.
And finally, do you have a top tip for SMEs on their responsible business journeys?
If you are a small business and haven’t yet considered what you need to be doing in this space, then please get in touch with HotC. We have so many useful resources available for free on our website plus more in-depth support for SMEs who really want to make a difference and be leading the way as innovative and sustainable companies. Being a sustainable business is becoming the only way to do business. Increasingly SMEs will miss out on the opportunity to bid for new contracts, renew existing contracts, attract new customers and retain staff unless they can demonstrate the actions they’re taking to address any potential negative impact they have on society, people and the planet. Whether you need tips on reducing plastic use and running a more sustainable office, a guide to employee wellbeing, an employee volunteering policy template or advice around getting senior leaders on board, we have the relevant support available, tailored for SMEs – so get in touch with us today to find out more.