Sophie Horrocks has a lot going on – juggling a demanding career at Bain & Company with other activities outside of work. So when a colleague asked if she would be interested in supporting The Brilliant Club through Social Business Trust (SBT), she was understandably wary of taking on too much.
But there was something about the opportunity that made her want to find out more.
The Brilliant Club supports under-represented pupils to progress to highly-selective universities. It does this by mobilising the PhD community to share its academic expertise with non-selective state schools.
For Sophie, who has a PhD in Physical Chemistry, it seemed like an ideal fit: “A mission centred in social mobility using the passion and energy of the PhD community resonated with me.”
Meeting their CEO, Chris Wilson, made Sophie even more excited about the opportunity: “He was inspiring, and his desire to make a difference was infectious. Our personalities clicked; it made a lot of sense.”
Sophie’s immediate role as The Brilliant Club’s SBT Investment Director was to advise SBT on their suitability for investment; “kick the tyres of the strategy” and help prepare The Brilliant Club pitch to the Investment Committee for support.
“I was helping them prioritise and ensuring that the SBT professional support was focused on the most impactful areas to drive outcomes.”
The result was unanimous support from the SBT Investment Committee to grant a package of in-kind and cash support worth £800,000. Sophie was “thrilled” to hear the positive news: “I was excited that such a powerful mission and model had the opportunity to be supercharged with investment and guidance.”
Sophie will now oversee the delivery of SBT’s investment in The Brilliant Club and continue to be a mentor and sounding board for Chris.
Chris Wilson is delighted to have Sophie’s on-going support: “Working with Sophie in advance of the Investment Committee was superb. As well as a clear passion for our work, Sophie offered a fresh perspective informed by years of experience. Her advice was clear-sighted and made an instant impact. I am so excited about continuing the partnership as we scale up the charity’s work.”
Although volunteering has been demanding for Sophie time-wise, the benefits have outweighed the demands: “The personal satisfaction from shaping a part of their destiny and helping Chris has been amazing.”
What’s her advice to other busy business professionals thinking of volunteering their expertise?
“Do it! It’s hugely rewarding. Find something that’s relevant to you, and don’t wait for ‘the right time’. Just say yes because it is energising and will inspire you in what you do day to day. It has been a thoroughly broadening and engaging experience for me.”