Getting Started

Ros TennysonFor most of my childhood and adolescence it was assumed that I would be a professional singer or actress – and indeed I did study drama with a view to a career in theatre. But I found myself continually torn between the arts and social work… and in the end my interest in social change and community development became the stronger driving force (read more in the about section). Eventually, after a very meandering career path, I have spent the last 30 years deeply immersed in the world of multi-stakeholder partnerships. This has involved encouraging individuals and organisations from different ‘sectors’ (non-profit, government and corporate) to collaborate to ensure more inclusive and sustainable development – for more on this browse my CV.

In 1992, I started working for the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF) led by Robert Davies, a remarkable and unassuming social innovator, where I was responsible for evolving its pioneering partnership work until the end of 2011. It was a pleasure and a privilege to work in so many different parts of the world, with remarkable colleagues and practitioners from all walks of life who were striving to collaborate, in spite of considerable odds, in order to create a better world for future generations.

Alongside this work, in 1996 I co-founded trigonos – a not-for-profit social business in North Wales set in a stunning landscape looking up to Snowdon – that provided opportunities for retreat, personal growth and professional development to a range of individuals and groups. Social business as a model of sustainable development is of great interest to me – see social innovator.

In 2001, on behalf of IBLF, I co-founded the Post-graduate Certificate in Cross-sector Partnering with the University of Cambridge and in 2002 this led to establishing The Partnering Initiative and then in 2003 the Partnership Brokers Project (with the Overseas Development Institute) that became an independent entity in 2012 – see partnership broker (link) and CV.

Despite being officially past retirement age, I still work as an independent partnership broker and remain very committed to driving change and raising the game in partnering practice.

Thinking back to my twenties, I realise that my despairing parents thought of me as a butterfly and were utterly frustrated by what they felt (probably correctly) was my lack of focus. It is true that I was never quite able to settle to one thing but was always darting off to the next enticing challenge. So many things came my way and ignited my curiosity that, for me, it felt as if I was extraordinarily fortunate. And, above all, as a good ‘child of the ‘60’s’, it was wonderful not to feel caged by convention. Now, as I reach my ‘post-mature’ years, I find myself reverting to that early excitement that came from trying new things

I am always keen to connect with other social innovators, partnership practitioners and those working in quite unconnected disciplines since I draw inspiration from many different sources – see other interests!

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Illustration by Maria Hayes