Monday 17 November 2014

2inspire Network Profile Interview: Doreen Thompson-Addo, Programme Manager at the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust

Doreen Thompson-Addo is the Programme Manager at the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, she has worked at the trust for 4 years and has the responsibility of managing a team that delivers community, youth, school and graduate programmes across London.
Doreen started her career in New York City, spending a year on the Mountbatten Internship programme and working for a leading events management company.  For the past 10 years she has worked in the charity sector as a Project Manager with a focus on volunteer management, corporate social responsibility and youth talent development. She has had the privilege of delivering projects and workshops in countries such as Cuba, Greece, Italy and Turkey and has worked with a variety of companies including Disney, L'Oreal, JP Morgan and the BBC.
Outside of work she continues to mentor young people, provides advice to 2 start-up charities and also works for the family business (events decorations).  Below is an interveiw that gives insight on Doreen, her work at the Trust and her inspirations.

1/ Please tell us what is a typical working day for you?

As Programme Manager at the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust my role involves managing a variety of exciting projects that transform the lives of young people and the wider community. Managing projects means that no 2 days are ever the same but a typical day may include catching up with my team to find out how they are progressing with meeting project targets, responding to important emails and phone calls, communicating any good news and case studies on our social media platform and giving presentations in schools and the wider community about the work of the Trust.

2/ What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment at work to date?

One of my greatest accomplishments was developing the Social Enterprise arm of the Hammersmith and Fulham Volunteer Centre called Works 4 U (where I was employed from 2004 to 2010). The organisation wanted to encourage more corporate businesses to volunteer in the communities where they work and so I spent 2 years building relationships with corporate employers and developing a scheme where their employees can donate their time and skills to their local community. Today, Works 4 U is a thriving Social Enterprise with clients such as Disney, Coca Cola, Starbucks, Ikea and L’Oreal.

3/ What has been your biggest challenge at work so far?

The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust is a charity and our income is generated from a number of different sources. The funding environment for many charities is a big challenge and it is important that we continue to think creatively and innovatively about how income is generated and spent. Like any business, financial management is very important and we want to continue to make sure that we generate income so that we can continue to support young people across the country to achieve their goals and aspirations. However, I always see challenges as an opportunity to learn something new and to think of creative ways in which a solution can be found.

4/What are your future plans for the Trust?

We are very ambitious at the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust and over the next few years we want to see continued growth in the work we do for young people as well as the wider community. We also want to see more people using the Stephen Lawrence Centre in Deptford where we have excellent facilities. As we are a national charity it is also our goal to reach out to young people beyond London and maybe even the world!

5/If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would have had a professional mentor at a young age. I did not have a mentor in school or university but it is important to have a role model in your life who can help you achieve your career aspirations. Even if you don’t know what you want to do as a career, having a role model/mentor can really help you to navigate the many opportunities that are out there.

6/ What’s the best compliment you could receive at work?

I am very happy when someone tells me that a project or event that I have managed has had a positive impact in their life. For me it really is about making a difference in the lives of people and if I can achieve that then it’s a great compliment.

7/ Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?

We have all been blessed with natural gifts and abilities and women should have the opportunity to use the skills and talents that they have, as they have so much to offer. Many women still feel that they cannot achieve their dreams for a number of different reasons and it’s important that we can encourage them and lead them to fulfil their goals and ambitions. This does not mean that following your dreams will be easy, but it is about saying that if you have a dream as a woman you shouldn’t feel that it cannot be achieved.

8/ What advice would you give to somebody who wants to work in your field?
Working in the Charity/Voluntary sector can be very rewarding and many people say they get high levels of work satisfaction working for a charity.  One piece of advice I would give to someone interested in working in the field of Project Management (other than finding a mentor – which I talked about earlier) is to gain some volunteering/work experience.  I got my first job in the sector because I had volunteered as a Youth Worker in my local church for 2 years.  During my time as  a volunteer I learnt about fundraising, organising youth activities, managing teams, developing proposals and partnership working.  This helped me to get my first job in the charity sector as a Youth Project Officer. There are lots of volunteering opportunities out there, ranging from ones where you don’t need much experience to ones where specific skill are needed. A good website to go to for volunteering opportunities is

9/What or who inspires you, and why?

I am inspired by businesses who not only operate for profit but also have a goal of making a difference in society. Corporate Social Responsibility is becoming more important in business and I look up to business leaders who incorporate social responsibility in their daily operations. There are many businesses today tackling important issues around education, health and poverty and that really does inspire me.

10/What is your favourite inspirational quote?
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” - Lao Tzu . I love this quote because many times we dream of journeys we want to take, be it a career journey, relationship journey or personal journey. There are all sorts of excuses and reasons we can give for not starting the journey but if you just start by taking that first step, who knows where it could lead you!

Find out more about the work of the Stephen Lawrence Trust:

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