Societe Generale: On a strategic mission

 In Community, News

On the 31st October 2018, East London Business Alliance (ELBA) worked with volunteers from Societe Generale’s StepUP talent programme to find solutions to key strategic issues facing three local charities.

Now a few months on from the ‘Strategic Solutions’ workshop, the feedback and subsequent follow up has demonstrated the positive impact on both the business and charities.  For Societe Generale, a professional skills-based team volunteering activity like this draws on the skills and expertise of business volunteers, with the challenge of applying them in a very different context.  It provides excellent networking and team building, as well as a stimulating session for business participants.

For the community organisations, it generated genuinely tangible outcomes for them to take away, and in some cases, sparked appetite amongst the business employees to maintain contact and provide them with further support.  As one SG volunteer testified:

“Not only was the workshop interesting but it was very inspiring to work alongside these charities and try to support them through team work.  We are looking forward to seeing how each of the three charities manage to solve the issues that they are facing.”

StepUP Strategic Solutions was a four-hour workshop in which six teams of volunteers were tasked with developing innovative ways for the charities to overcome a specific challenge that they were facing. Each team was required to produce a project plan and supporting materials, and to devise and deliver a pitch to their assigned charity. The charities; Royal Docks Learning and Activity Centre (RDLAC), Chance UK and ELBA, each presented a key strategic issue and each team competed against a rival to find the best solution.

RDLAC challenged their two teams to devise innovative ways to fund their programme of activities for older members of the Royal Docks community.  RDLAC found great value in both pitches and were particularly excited by the idea of using their kitchen facilities to create a new catering initiative. Since the workshop, ELBA have connected RDLAC with a local catering company whose CEO is working with them to launch the project.

Chance UK’s challenge was to find creative ways to sell their mentoring model to new audiences. Once again, Chance UK were impressed with both pitches but they selected one of the teams which, since the workshop, has continued to support Chance UK to develop their idea by conducting additional research and introducing Chance UK to Societe Generale’s Family Network. Chance UK were invited to pitch their proposal for bite size parenting sessions and are hoping to continue working with Societe Generale.  Chance UK’s Partnership Manager, Anna Cronin Nowakowska said:

“We’re really excited by where we’re heading on the back of the StepUP session. This could be the launch pad for a whole new income stream for Chance UK, so it’s fantastic to see the initial concept develop so quickly.”

Finally, ELBA tasked the volunteers with designing a new, more flexible alliance model; a real challenge given the limited time available. Both teams offered valuable insights into how ELBA might best serve its alliance of business and other partners and, following the session, ELBA’s CEO and Director of Account Management were able to build on the ideas discussed at an additional strategic brainstorming session with Kleinwort Hambros’ Senior Leadership Team. Both these sessions have enabled ELBA’s Directors to develop a new alliance and supporter offer which is currently being trialled.

All in all, the Strategic Solutions session proved hugely successful in connecting Societe Generale’s volunteers with the issues facing some east London charities, while using and building their skills and expertise.  If you are interested in hosting a Strategic Solutions workshop then please contact Jonathan Tait via

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