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Eleanor Southwood

Eleanor Southwood

Type of Fellowship: Specialist
Year of Fellowship: 2012

RNIB Fellowship

Update April 2012

Almost six months on from appointment and my Fellowship is certainly well underway. Initially, I wasn’t sure where to start. A whole year to focus on my own development! The range of possibilities, combined with the desire to get it absolutely right made it feel quite daunting. I was certainly tempted to fill the year with courses that would tick some boxes and experiences that would plug some CV gaps. Luckily, I listened to another part of me, whose message was basically ‘for now at least, just see what happens…’
The first thing to happen was the 360 evaluation, which was a helpful way to focus my thoughts and plans. I realised how much effort I’d put into moulding myself to fit particular jobs I’d had (with varying degrees of success) and resolved instead to spend the year seeing where the skills and strengths I have might take me.

Our first residential (in unseasonably warm weather for January) in Poole was exhilarating, thought-provoking and challenging all at once and I came back ready to really get started. I also came back confident that my fellow Fellows would be the most valuable source of support and challenge that I could have wished for.

The reality of working on my Fellowship was trickier than I’d expected. Given that I was no longer working fulltime, I imagined that carving out quality Clore time would be easy. Not only did I find it a challenge, but I came to the uncomfortable conclusion that I wasn’t actually enjoying some of the things that I was spending my time on instead. Building the confidence to choose to do more of what I value and less of what I feel I ‘should’ do will definitely be part of this year.

I was also keen to get my teeth stuck into one of the really practical elements of the Fellowship: the secondment. In March, I joined WaterAid, where I’m working on some exciting organisational development projects. It’s my first experience of international development and they have made me incredibly welcome.

Beyond my secondment, I’m really excited about what the rest of the year might bring. In the coming weeks I’ll be trying to narrow down the many ideas I have for my research project to just one and planning out the training that will help me make the most of this year. I have my first coaching session shortly, which I know will be another great source of support in fulfilling my ambition and goals for the Fellowship and beyond.

Twitter: @elliesouthwood

Current principal role: Consultant
Current principal organisation: Nfp Consulting
Other leadership role 1: Vice-chair
Other organisation 1: RNIB
Other leadership role 2: Cllr and Cabinet Member, Environment
Other organisation 2: London Borough of Brent

Research: Experience of leaders in the social sector (Three Podcasts) Podcast 1 – What’s so different about leading in the not-for-profit sector? Podcast 2 – how to survive if you’re leading a not-for-profit Podcast 3 - Getting fit for the future
Research topics: Campaigning; Change management; Charity; Employment; Governance; Impact; Leadership; Values;
Secondment host: WaterAid

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Reg: 7222275
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