Purpose-led in a Purpose-driven Organisation

This Is What We Stand For.

This week marks three years within which three big things happened in our business.

They have all propelled us on our mission of supporting one million young people, every year, by 2025. Most importantly though, they have helped me re-clarify who we are, and what we stand for. Why we exist and what we truly value.

Coming to Core Values Organically

The first was three years ago. We had just sold DBL to a private equity firm. Then, a few months later, I had quickly lost faith in the decision I made. So, in February 2018, I bought it back. I  wasn’t finished with it.

This was a monumental decision. I was only 38 years old and was turning my back on being financially set for life. Sometimes the pull of what is right is too strong to ignore. Letting go, and following my instinct reignited my vision and we’ve never looked back.

The second was in 2019 when we invested heavily in our management team and a series of successions and new roles. One of which included me handing over the reins to Angela Hands in July that year. Angela has been an outstanding CEO ever since.

On the business front, this allowed us to reach more young people than ever before – and our team, client family and presence in the market are now bigger than ever. Personally, this change meant I had more time for the things that matter most, making me a better leader with a clearer head and an even bigger vision.

And then, there was 2020. And now the seemingly never-ending pandemic. Deciding very early in the pandemic that we would thrive as a business felt like the natural decision to make. As did banding together as a team and looking after each other. Going on to live through multiple extended lockdowns in the UK, drastic restrictions on life, and home-schooling three children for 6 of the past 12 months has since re-oriented life almost completely.

All three of these experiences, alongside paying more attention to the world’s challenges in climate change, equality and education have made it clearer than ever that our work is important. It’s the human skills that matter most. And it is the world’s young people and future workforce who need more opportunity to grow and develop these skills, and who will make the biggest difference in the world in decades to come.

Being a purpose-led company is simply good business

I’ve always been a huge believer in business as a force for good. Effective businesses, built upon a purpose and values that matter, can be extremely effective vehicles to accelerate change. Today the idea of purpose-led businesses is not just the ethically right thing to do, but is being proven as the smart commercial thing to do as well.

Deloitte research in 2019 found that purpose-oriented companies report 30% higher levels of innovation and 40% higher levels of workforce retention than their competitors.

What does it means to be a purpose-driven company?

Our purpose is to create experiences and change lives.

Over the past three years, and particularly over the past 12 months, I’ve been able to reflect and clarify what this really means. What we stand for. What we believe in.

I’m talking about the values we hold closest to our hearts. The values that pulled me to throw away perfectly good professional services career prospects at 25 years old and turn my back on millions at 38.

The same values that pushed our team to stand up and fight when the pandemic hit. And the same values that motivate us to see beyond the darkness of extended lockdowns and ongoing uncertainties to the brightness and optimism of the years ahead.

Purpose-driven Values-led

I recently clarified and shared these with the team. You’ll see more from us on our values in the coming months and years, so here they are. This is what we stand for.


We believe growth gives us the power to be our best versions of ourselves. We have the incredible ability to change how we think and behave, learn new skills, shape our experiences and pursue what matters most to each of us.


We believe talent is never enough, and opportunity matters. With opportunity, people are empowered to bring their talents to the world. We must give more people the opportunity. And we must grab opportunity when it presents itself to us.


We believe it is a privilege to discover the world, learn from it and take care of it. Our actions, and inactions, count. Our decisions, resources, skills and talents should be used to make our impact in the world a positive one.

Leading with values, leading with purpose

Progress is fast towards our goal of supporting one million young people every year by 2025. We reached 128,000 young people in 2020, up from around 5,000 the year before. The rapid adoption of virtual and digital modes of learning in almost all education and training sectors has helped to increase our reach and impact exponentially.

These values will be our rocket fuel to reach many more. They will also shape our reasons for doing things. Most importantly though, they will give our people and community a platform to grow, opportunities to bring their talents to the world and to make their own impact in the world a positive one.

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Josh Mackenzie

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