Libby Denchfield is a front-runner in business and finance, a charity sector visionary, and most importantly of all, a world explorer via the means of Campervan. Here, she tells us all about her background and hopes for the future…
My name is Libby Denchfield and I recently joined Astriid‘s team of Trustees as Treasurer. My normal ‘day job’ is working for Standard Chartered (SCB), a bank that helps to offer financial services to emerging markets and developing countries, namely, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. My roles at SCB have all involved elements of business, finance, people, governance, process, and project management, and so I’m hoping to bring some of these skills to the Astriid Charity Board. I believe this will help us meet our purpose: supporting our candidates with finding meaningful work. But of course, the main focus in my life is trying to be a half-decent Mum to two kids, a daughter to elderly parents, a sister, a twin, a wife, and a friend. Out of work, our family loves to play cards and travel around in our very old VW Campervan… our most recent trip was driving it to Crete!
I had been looking for a charity to work with for a while but had not found one I felt a real connection with, or that matched my experience. It’s a bit like finding any role. There needed to be a match of skills with what they are looking for; of the time commitment required and what I could realistically provide. Then there is something that is a bit more difficult to find: something that sparks enough of an interest to make a connection, to get you excited, and ultimately something that’s a little bit personal that you really can’t describe! Astriid delivered all of those things, so I thank my lucky stars that Tarek Anwar (who is also on Astriid’s Board), contacted me to say there was a Treasurer role here which he thought I’d be perfect for. Tarek has always been good at connecting people and understanding what builds great teams, and so I trusted him, submitted my application, and here I am!
I think there are many positives that are already coming out of the Covid-19 learning experience. Firstly, working from home is now seen as an acceptable way of working. This was simply not the case before, with many more traditional companies and managers seeing barriers to being at home, rather than what could be achieved. We’ve also seen huge advancements in technology to support home-working that was just not available or rolled out to everyone as standard in companies. This has changed too, which means there are now no more real excuses to disregard the idea of people working from home. It’s opened people’s minds, which can only be a good thing: it should mean greater opportunities for our candidates too, which is a fantastic outcome. However, it’s not only perceptions around working from home and technology that have been challenged by what we’ve all gone through. Many companies are having to literally reinvent themselves, and this in itself is driving a great deal of innovative and diverse thinking. I’m seeing a great deal of creativity and a much more open-minded approach which challenges our traditional ways of working. This seems to be leading to increased flexibility and choices for employees, which is fantastic!
What I’ve loved so far is getting to know the team, being involved in some of the strategic thinking, and trying to learn and understand the unique challenge that not only our charity faces during Covid-19, but our candidates too. From day one, Astriid had this wonderful, warm group of people that really welcomed me. From speaking to those who benefit from our services, the volunteers who help make things happen, our CEO Steve and the other Trustees alike, it’s clear that there is a fantastic culture here at Astriid. You feel it at all levels and parts of the organisation and that’s amazing. It’s really special and something that many other companies actually spend a huge amount of money on, trying to define and create! The people here are really passionate about making a difference and are determined to keep improving Astriid and the services it offers to its candidates, and I’m committed to playing a role in this. I believe that Astriid can make a huge difference and has the right people in the team to do just that. Limiting our ambition may actually be the hardest thing for us at the moment! We need to focus on a few key initiatives, do them well, and never lose sight of why we are here and who we’re here to help.
It’s not really what I would like to see Astriid achieve … it’s about whether we can exceed what our candidates expect from us, and then do that for as many people as possible. And the only way to do that is to keep close to those benefitting from our services, listening to their feedback, and continually improving what we do for them.
Ah, yes! Well, I was about 30 at the time, had been working in banking for a number of years, and probably was a little bored: this tends to be a bit of a pattern with me and precedes a job/role/life change! So, I left work and retrained as a scuba diver instructor and moved to the Cayman Islands. It was huge amounts of fun and I eventually got offered a job doing underwater videos (basically filming tourists on holiday scuba diving), but 9-11 happened and, a bit like Covid-19 … life changed as the tourist industry collapsed. So, I came home, got a proper job and a mortgage, and here I am now!