A new chapter for the Lab

The Lab’s leadership model is rooted in self-awareness. Understanding your own purpose, strengths and vulnerabilities is a foundation for the resilience and collaboration required to lead systems change. Self-awareness means knowing and taking responsibility for yourself, so that you can lead others.

It also means knowing when others should lead and supporting them to do that. As the Lab enters its fifth year of independence, after a decade of pioneering systems change in finance, I know that it’s time for another person to take on the challenge of shaping the Lab’s next decade. So today we launch the search for the next CEO of the Lab – someone who will take our impact to the next level, in the UK and beyond.

The story so far

I’m incredibly proud of the Lab’s journey since 2015. We’ve successfully navigated the challenges of life as a small charity while walking the talk on systems change, both in our internal ways of working and the design of our programmes. We’ve launched an incubation programme that’s unique in the world, supporting 43 purpose-driven financial innovators over three years; we’ve changed the narrative on financial regulation; we’ve taken our work to the heart of mainstream finance; and we’ve built a community of hundreds of innovators, influencers and intrapreneurs, all actively working in support of the Lab’s vision of a financial system that serves people and planet.

In all of this, we’ve put our values of collaboration, action learning and empowerment at the core, and we’ve centred the voices of those who are usually silenced in the debate. I’ve learnt a huge amount along the way and I’m incredibly grateful to the funders, trustees and community of support that have enabled us to thrive.

We couldn’t have done any of this without the mission and culture gifted to us by the Lab’s co-founders. They set our vision and ambition, tested and built powerful models for systems change, and established the Lab’s reputation in the UK and beyond. They also knew when it was time for someone new to steer the Lab through its next phase, and they gave me the support and trust I needed to take on the challenge.

I want to pay that gift forward. I’ve been the right person to bring the Lab to this point and I’ve relished the opportunity to build our strategy, programmes and team. It’s been an incredible five years, but I’m ready for my next chapter – and so is the Lab. The next phase of the Lab’s growth will be focused on sustaining and scaling our impact, across different levels of the financial system, across different localities, and across the world. During 2020, the board and team will redevelop our strategy to enable us to achieve this, building on the successes and learning from the past five years. It’s vital that the new CEO is deeply involved in shaping that strategy, so now is the time to bring them on board.

Looking to the future

While we recruit for our new CEO, I will be gradually reducing my hours and increasing my focus on embedding knowledge, skills and relationships across the Lab team. As CEO of a young organisation, I’ve inevitably become closely associated with its identity, values and voice, but the power of the Lab’s work lies in collaboration, within and beyond the team.

Our new CEO will have the privilege of working with an exceptional team, who work with passion, curiosity and love, as well as huge amounts of talent. They will find themselves at the heart of a unique community of people who have the courage to take on one of the most powerful systems in the world – one that plays a decisive role in the wellbeing of billions of people. They will also have to navigate the challenges of building a new system while existing in the old one, which often means living with uncertainty and imperfection. They will find themselves tested strategically, intellectually and emotionally, but they will also experience the joy of empowering others to transform the future.

My experience of working in the movement for economic systems change has taught me two things: first, that there is no more important fight for anyone committed to social and environmental justice, and second, that this fight asks everything of us. We don’t have all the answers and we must continuously develop the tools and expertise we bring to our work. So I plan to study psychotherapy and bring the skills I learn back into the movement, by supporting people working for change and helping to craft new narratives for an economy that serves people and planet.

While I’m studying, I’ll continue to support economic reform as a trustee of the New Economics Foundation and an advisor to the Economic Change Unit. And I’ll remain a passionate champion of values-based banking and an active member of the Lab’s community – just as I was before I took on this role.

We often teach that working for systems change is interactive: it changes you as much as it changes the system. That’s definitely true for me. I’m not the same person I was in 2015, not least because I’ve experienced the power of working in a fully human way. And the Lab isn’t the same organisation it was in 2015. It’s stronger, braver, wiser and more impactful, due in large part to the talents of our team, trustees and community. Now it needs a new leader to help us scale our work and realise our vision: a financial system that’s democratic, responsible and fair. It’s one of the most important challenges facing us today – and one of the best jobs in the world.