Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Adrian Ashton - Consultant to Social Enterprise
How old are you?
Young enough that I still think I'm invincible, but old enough that I should know better... (33)
What’s your occupation and who do you work for?
Self-employed (by accident, rather than design) in a range of disciplines – currently a tutor on behalf of colleges; a business advisor with enterprise agencies, a consultant to anyone who I'm able to identify funding to pay me to do it with, and general anarchist when it comes to challenging national policy and the accepted norms within the 'third sector' (amongst other things...)
How long have been doing this?
About 3 years in my current self-employed incarnation, but 10 years prior to that as an employee of other organisations doing similar stuff.
What’s the best bit about your job?
Being able to control my working hours and day so that mostly I get to be around when my boys start and end their day, and can spend just about all of every weekend with them as well.
What’s the worst thing?
Not getting any holiday or sick pay
What have the last 12 months been like for you?
A roller-coaster: this time last year we were homeless due to our home being flooded so I was working out of a laptop case for 6 months while also having to project manage builders, insurance companies and their agents; but I also successfully challenged the legislation that governs the Community Interest Company and had someone start a blog against me as a result; spoke at a national research conference; became recognised as an authority on faith-based social enterprises; and was asked to lead on developing a completely new model of managed workspace.
And all while still managing to do my share of the housework and have plenty of time with my 2 boys!
What were you doing before?
But broadly the same (except for the bit about the house flooding) – I headed up a co-operative development agency in Cambridge, getting it recognition from the Bank of England, national government and others for the work I instigated (which led to it successfully changing local planning laws in favour of co-ops and other forms of social enterprise, and becoming a key founder member of a regional social enterprise partnership)
What was your very first full-time job?
Sorting fat from rind in an abattoir.
Have you got any plans for the next 12 months you’d like to share with us?
On the whole, I try not to plan ahead too much – that way you're always excited and surprised by what comes up, rather than disappointed that things don't turn out as you'd hoped...
What do you do to relax?
cycling and walking; watching cult TV from the 60's and 70's; taking my wife out for a posh dinner (which I currently do far too little of); taking my boys out to play in the park...
Who do you live with?
My gorgeous wife, Clare; our 2 fantastic boys, Edward & Henry; and an always hungry cat, Harvey.
Whereabouts do you live?
Todmorden – centre of the universe
If you were Prime Minister, what’s the very first thing you do?
Have a televised custard pie fight with the opposition...
Have you got any guilty carbon secrets?
What have you done that you were most proud of?
Delivering my second son with no medical support or assistance, dealing with the complications from both the pregnancy and that arose during the labour, and having the kettle on for when the ambulance crew arrived.
What are you most concerned about in the world at large?
That people are generally becoming more fearful.
Which person in the public eye do you most admire and why?
Richard Branson – how may other global business leaders have a criminal record, dress up as brides to promote their businesses; and regularly go 'back to the shop floor'?
What advice would you give to someone wishing to embark on the same sort of work as you?
Don't expect to get paid quickly, go with the flow, and accept that things will never happen as they're supposed to.
Work out what it is you're trying to achieve through being self-employed before you begin, and stick to it.
I'd also recommend the lyrics to Baz Lurhman's 'Sunscreen' from 1999.
What's your website address?