Spotlight on Rosie Walford, co-founder of Be The Change Journey

Next week, we have our first Be The Change dinner, for people interested in making a career shift into more meaningful work. We wanted to find out more about one of the hosts, Rosie Walford.


What’s the elevator pitch for your business?

There are hundreds of bright and able people stuck in unsatisfying ‘velvet rut’ jobs. Meanwhile, what the world needs is more people shifting into meaningful work that makes a difference and brings them alive. 

Be the Change Journey is a life-changing eight days in India.  You visit pioneering changemakers who are blending business acumen with social purpose, witness the major entrepreneurial models for making an impact in the world and use specialised career-shift coaching to help you figure out where you can best apply you professional powers. So far, it’s been catalytic – sending people home focused and ready for meaningful work.

What were you doing before this?

 I’ve been taking groups of people up the spanish  mountains to think creatively about their lives and then make bold moves on a coaching trip called The Big Stretch for the past eleven years. At the same time I’ve been supporting leaders in large corporates to consider their ripples of influence in the wider world, and leaders of environmental campaigning organisations to be more impactful. And before any of that I was a strategic planner in a London advertising agency, where i cofounded an innovation unit. It was fascinating, but I couldn’t keep promoting cars and soap powder forever. 

Introduce your team.

We’re a remote team, living and working around the globe in a thoroughly modern way. I spend most of my time living on an island off New Zealand. My partner in crime is Richard Alderson, a serial entrepreneur who has set up an incubator in Mumbai which helps social innovators create businesses that change peoples’ lives. He connects us to hundreds of inspiring  pioneers in organisations both large and small across India. He’s also the founder of the brilliant website Careershifters here in the UK, so he knows a lot about helping people make career moves. Hannah Smith in Edinburgh reminds us to tell the world what we’re up to, and helps people navigate their path into social impact work here in the UK when they return from India. Heading up our India team, Naomi scouts out some incredible behind-the-scenes experiences  and an array of heritage hotels for us to stay in, so that whilst our journeys are challenging by day, they are truly restful at night.  

What’s your biggest ‘hindsight’ moment with the business?

It’s almost impossible to pinpoint our pathway into new, meaningful work while we’re stuck in our old career context. But when we get out and see an array of different organisations in action, some will really move us – and some won’t resonate at all. Those unique reactions are what we can draw on to clarify the cause that will get us out of bed in the mornings,  the kind of role we might play, what type of organisation and business model will fit our talents best.  

What will 2014 bring?

Growth in the expanding field of social enterprise worldwide and an ever-increasing trend towards social and environmental responsibility amongst more traditional corporates. All of which means opportunity for those seeking to make a difference through their work. (for example, almost 1 million green jobs were created in 2013 worldwide). 

1 piece of advice for someone starting a business in your sector?

Don’t expect traditional recruitment or business advisors to help you much in finding a conscious, impact career. These emerging areas of work require different patterns of thinking and searching. 

Convince someone to use your product/service in under 50 words.

When your work meets the needs of the world as you see them, it will be meaningful. When it uses your talents, it will be joyful. Discover the sweet spot between your passions, the skills you bring, and innovative funding models, and you’ll never do another day’s work. 

What’s your favourite startup in the sector (not including your own)?

Reality Tours. It takes visitors into Asia’s largest slum, using residents as the guides who explain the unexpected maze of businesses, and horrid working conditions within. Profits from these tours fund education projects and computer rooms. People see their own European waste being recycled by hand, and get a powerful, visceral sense of the interconnectedness of humanity worldwide.

What’s your favourite London restaurant?

The Three Crowns at Old Street. Imaginative, exquisite british cooking in a quietly stylish room. 

There are spaces left at next week’s dinner, where you can come and meet Rosie in person as well as other Be The Change alumni.

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