C-J Green, the new Chair of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership board, on making a pact with her husband at the start of the year to run at least a mile EVERY single day!
New Year’s resolutions, eh? You make them and then you might break them – but not in the case of C-J Green and her husband.
The new Chair of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership board, says: ‘As of January 1, 2020, my husband and I decided we would run every single day for the whole year – and the minimum we were able to run? A mile.’
Considering she’s a marathon runner, this maybe wasn’t going to be too much of a stretch. ‘I was due to do my sixth marathon in the spring, in Rotterdam.’ So at the start of the year, at least there was that to train for. ‘We were kind of expecting to still do the marathon.’ But this year hasn’t exactly gone to plan for any of us.
C-J and her husband have kept their promise to each other. ‘There are some days I curse the day we had that conversation!’ However, she has also appreciated having a good reason to get out of the house, especially in lockdown: ‘It’s where I do my thinking – some people do it in the shower I always do it on a run.’
The 41-year-old, who lives on the Norfolk/Suffolk border, is the Co-founder and Executive Director of BraveGoose, a technology-driven human resources advice solution, which was founded two years ago this month.
Running has a positive effect on her thought processes. At the start of the run she might not be feeling so positive about heading up a relatively new business in the middle of a pandemic, but by end? ‘It’s the best idea ever!’ says C-J.
‘At the start of the year BraveGoose was doing a lot of in-person delivery of leadership development. We were extremely excited about everything – 2020 was going to smash it for us; it was going to be amazing. We were busy high five-ing each other.’
Then lockdown happened. Thankfully, C-J and her fellow co-founder consider themselves to be good in a crisis and also good at ‘finding a way to scramble around for positives.’
She says: ‘We held our breath and said we probably had enough to see us through – as long as it didn’t keep going for years…’
The online side of the business is a nifty bit of HR tech called CleverGoose (yes there’s a recurrent goose theme at work here), which is aimed at helping people make great HR decisions.
C-J says: ‘In lockdown we started doing online delivery for leadership development.’ During the time we were all encouraged to shut ourselves away and work from home, CJ thought: ‘Why not accelerate the delivery of technology?’ And she makes the point: ‘If we wouldn’t have had lockdown it probably wouldn’t have happened so fast.’
By April, C-J had become a member of the New Anglia LEP board, which has been able to have a positive impact in the local economy, from supporting regional recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic to helping businesses reopen safely and secure vital funding.
She says: ‘I knew I was Chair designate at the point I joined the board. I had a lovely under-the-radar transition period. I downloaded as much as I could. That was a really nice time for me to get my head around everything.’ Then, as of the end of last month, she ‘formally stepped into the mix.’
She has plenty of praise of the LEP: ‘I think it’s a pretty extraordinary organisation. I am really inspired by its work, using business as a force for good.’
And she adds: ‘What an enormous privilege, to be given the opportunity to speak to so many different businesses – I pinch myself.’
It was recently awarded an additional £32.1m to local projects as part of the national Getting Building Fund. C-J is looking forward to seeing those progress and supporting the LEP’s work across its key sectors, skills initiatives, inward investment campaigns and its strategic work with local partners and Government.
As the end of the EU Exit transition period approaches, even more uncertainty will be around the corner but the LEP is busy working alongside local private and public sector partners to focus on the commitments made in its Economic Recovery plan.
C-J is well aware that she has taken the baton of Chair at a tough time and says on a personal note: ‘I found the beginning of lockdown pandemic period easier than I’m finding it now. During that first month there was a real community spirit – we were all standing on our doorsteps clapping for carers. I think it’s much harder now. I’m really over the pandemic now, Covid can do one!’
Are there are any positives to be drawn from this year? ‘While we are all having very different experiences in this we aren’t alone,’ says C-J.
The human resources entrepreneur clearly has the human touch. She was previously Chief People Officer and then Chief Executive Officer of a Suffolk company with a global workforce of 26,000. And she is also a Trustee of Pepal, which connects non-government organisations and global corporations to find solutions to social issues.
‘We talk about business in the region but it’s all about human stories. When you hear a business that has been supported by grant funding or hear about people switching to produce hand sanitisers, there’s a real sense right now of the power of human nature in the face of the difficult stuff and people get courage from listening to that.’
C-J doing the Irish Quest Race
(Images supplied by C-J Green)