Jim Carrick-Birtwell on why profit and purpose are the new norm for businesses

By Future Talent Learning

We've all no doubt reflected on what has changed post-pandemic and it feels to me that there are very common themes that this huge level of disruption has focused people's minds and created some common priorities. 


I don't hear many politicians talking about this, not just in this country, but anywhere around the world, but it seems to me there are three universal priorities, and those are the sustainability of our planet.You know, nobody should be discussing why climate change is important, so that's. 


Number two is universal healthcare. You know, we've all had to recognise instantly our interdependence through the pandemic, and that has trumped so many other things to prioritize how we look after each other, how we care for people as leaders and managers and businesses. Your business priorities come second to the priorities of the people around you and what's going on in their lives. So it feels that actually, the resilience of that system is a real priority.


But then I think the third universal priority is universal skills training. The idea of upskilling, reskilling, and making sure that everybody can participate in the rewards of the fourth industrial revolution. That feels like that level of priority. 


So there are certain things I think in common with those three macro priorities. They feel that they're all about sustainability. It feels that they're all about how we create resilience within the system. It feels that they're all about solidarity, that we can't do this on our own.


It feels actually to me, particularly that there is a very, very strong intergenerational element across planet healthcare and skills training. And it's as much about how do we take everybody with us, who's with going forward, but how do we have a very, very strong focus on the generation behind. and we have to plan not for quarter by quarter. We have to plan by decade ahead. 


And so being involved in a business that's about learning, that's about skills feels like an enormous privilege. If it's something that's so important. I think it's one of the things that we probably all have in common in this room. We are in that business, but it brings with it great responsibility as well.


And on the journey that we've been on as a business, it was very important to me that we enshrine a sense of purpose and focus in a more solid way. So we've been working really hard over the last 12 months to get ourselves in a fit state, to submit an application to become a B Corporation in Q1 of next year.


It's been an amazing journey. And it's all about making sure that purpose sits alongside, with an equal footing to profit within our business. And as a purpose-driven business, always, it feels actually really liberating rather than going in search of our purpose to have recognized this is what we do.


It's incredibly important and we have a responsibility, so we need to be responsible about it. 


So the purpose of Future Talent Learning is 'better workplace learning for a better working world'. And like a lot of purpose statements, they trip off the tongue rather nicely, but it seems it's really, really important that we actually have as much impact as we possibly can.


Naturally, we want to focus on the growth of our business commercially, and I really hope that you'll be part of that. But actually societal impact and maximizing that on our journey is incredibly important to us and fulfilling our purpose. 


We can't do it on our own. And that's where a sense of common purpose with employers, partners, and other stakeholders in our ecosystem that can help us all together maximise the impact that we have.


Let's face it, the business of education, of skills of learning. It's about human flourishing. It's an amazing thing to be involved in, but the idea that we have a focus on the common good in the middle of that is really important. And the common good is so important to our purpose. 


Just to be clear, I've thought a bit about this. I don't think the common purpose is about creating, or, sorry, the common good is about creating good for as many people as possible, which is not an unnatural thing that you might conclude. 


Actually, I think there's another side of that and it's about who's on the periphery, who are different generations that are not on the stage yet, and so I think the common good is about making sure we're not excluding people from the good that we can have, that we take everybody with us on this journey. 


I'm really, really delighted this evening to be announcing that Future Talent Learning has created a strategic partnership with an amazing charity called Inspiring the Future. And I'm gonna introduce Nick Chambers, their CEO in just a minute.


Inspiring the Future is a platform that is essentially connected to pretty much every secondary school in this country. And a growing number of primary schools. Now there are 26,000 primary schools in the UK, and they want to connect to all of them. And the way it works is people like us, people in jobs, and all of our employees behind us can simply sign up on the platform, fill in a profile, and then schools search for people to come and speak to a six form or a school assembly.


To be involved at a careers fair actually can search virtually across anybody or can go by postcode and try and find people local to them. And I think the idea behind it, or I know the idea behind it, is to break down stereotypes. If you can't imagine someone like you, with your gender or your ethnicity or your accent or looking kind of the way you do; if you can't imagine them doing something, then that closes down a lot of things for you really, really quickly. 


So the idea that, yes, it's amazing to have work experiences, it's amazing to have mentoring, but the idea that you can just have young people accessing thousands of people constantly for all sorts of things, I think is amazing.


We are going to work very, very closely with Nick and his team to help scale the platform. So there are three commitments that, that we've made to Inspiring the Future. So, number one, we are going to promote it to our staff. So there's about 60 of us, but actually, at least half of them have worked in education, worked in schools.


You can imagine there's a following wind. We're also going to embed it into the curriculum of our Transformational Leadership program. So any of you that are familiar with that, that's a long-form program. It's either a global program or it's, uh, an leadership and management apprenticeship in this country.


But a big part of that is helping people to communicate. That's a big part of one of the modules. So if we can say, look, to apply those skills, which is fundamental to our approach and practice it. Here's a platform, you can go on it and the coach, your coach, can help you prepare for the terrifying possibility.


It's much easier talking to you a lot than talking to children. Let me tell you, to prepare for that. And I'm going to share with you some links that are truly inspiring so you can see what that looks like. 


And actually, that leads me onto the kind of common purpose with yourselves. I would love to promote Inspiring the Future to all of the partners that we have in employer land, and for you as individuals, but also the organizations, and the employee base behind you. It's so easy. It's already set up. In fact, the platform has been rolled out, not in every country, but I've seen it in Canada and it's in all sorts of other countries. So it truly is a global platform. 


Thank you for listening to me. It's actually a real pleasure to see everybody coming together. Common purpose to have a few drinks, but there's nothing wrong with that


So thank you very much. That's all I'm going to say this evening. Thank you for listening.

Note: If you are able, we strongly encourage you to listen to the audio of this video. Transcripts and closed captions are generated using speech recognition software and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.

There is an increasing focus on 'purpose' at an individual and organisational level. From Larry Fink's letter to CEOs on 'The Power of Capitalism' to Simon Sinek's best selling book 'Start with Why', conversations about how to combine profit and purpose are taking place across businesses. 

Listen to Jim Carrick-Birtwell, Future Talent Learning's Founder and CEO, talk about how we can respond to these at an individual and organisational level. 


Key points 

The pandemic has created societal disruption and change. As a result, society is grappling with three macro priorities: the sustainability of our planet, universal healthcare and universal skills training. Governments and businesses must respond to these challenges.


Combining profit and purpose: the new business norm. Future Talent Learning has enshrined a sense of purpose within the business. We will be submitting a B-Corp application early next year to ensure that purpose has an equal footing to profit within our business. 


Maximising societal impact. Future Talent Learning is working in partnership with other organisations to maximise our impact, particularly supporting those on the periphery of society. We will be promoting opportunities to get involved with social impact projects within our learning programmes, to our employers and across our community. 


‘You can only be what you can see’. Breaking down stereotypes is vital to increase opportunities. Young people, especially from disadvantaged backgrounds, often have a limited understanding of the careers open to them. We are partnering with Inspiring the Future to bring visibility to the wide range of jobs and career routes. 


Inspiring the Future 

Research shows that speaking to people with different jobs is an effective way to bring learning to life for children and showcase the range of opportunities available to them. It has a real and lasting impact on children and young people, including:

  • Broadening horizons and raising aspirations 
  • Challenging gender and social stereotypes
  • Boosting children’s motivation, attainment and future prospects. 

Inspiring the Future connects volunteers from the world of work with primary schools, secondary schools and colleges to take part in fun and interactive careers activities.


They need volunteers with different backgrounds, career routes and jobs to open children’s eyes to a world they might never have imagined for themselves. Sharing your experience with children is rewarding and can have broader benefits for you too, including improved professional skills, enhanced wellbeing and greater work satisfaction.


You can sign up in just a few minutes. Why not volunteer to make a difference today?


Sign up to volunteer today


More about Jim Carrick-Birtwell

Jim Carrick-Birtwell founded Changeboard in 2004 and it has subsequently evolved into Future Talent Learning.


Future Talent Learning is a purpose-driven organisation making transformational learning experiences accessible worldwide to all employees, at all levels, in over 50 of the world’s best employers. Courses focus on the emotional intelligence and soft skills needed for the modern workplace. 

Jim’s passion for social mobility has found expression through running a Number 10 project called Plotr – a careers inspiration platform for 11-24-year-olds. He is also a member of the Barclays LifeSkills Advisory Board.



Upskilling existing employees in order to retain and reinvigorate them lies at the heart of the FTL Transformational Leadership Programme. Find out how to future-proof your business.





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