Meet our witness Jan Golding

Jan 1

A key part of our programmes are ‘Witness sessions’ when students hear from inspirational speakers (witnesses) who have first-hand experience of the issues our students are facing. Like witnesses in a law court they give testimony about what it’s really like to start and grow social organisations. Our Witnesses are some of the most inspirational entrepreneurs around who take time out of their very busy lives to help our social entrepreneurs.  We’d like you to meet them and be inspired!

Meet: Jan Golding, Founder RootsHR 



What does your organisation do?

Roots Human Resources Community Interest Company is the UK’s specialist consultancy for human resources and health and safety services for social sector employers. We enable organisations to continually improve performance and sustainability through better people management, whilst ensuring an understanding of, and compliance with, employment legislation.

How did you get involved with your organisation / What was your motivation for founding your organisation?

I founded Roots HR and my motivation was to help organisations to make better use of their hard-earned funds and to do more for service users and beneficiaries. I worked as Director of Support Services for a medium-sized south west charity and I was aware of a number of employment disputes, often resulting in settlements or tribunal claims. I could see ways that, with better awareness and training, managers could easily avoid these disputes. I wanted to find ways for organisations to access professional advice when managing people in difficult situations so that expensive and time consuming disputes can be avoided and more of the organisation’s resources can be focussed on delivering its purpose.

What’s the hardest decision you’ve ever made as a social entrepreneur?

The bigger financial ones – taking on our premises and then recruiting my own team- every time we grow or need to restructure, I always feel wobbly about the commitment. You have to learn to look back at what you have achieved and to trust that you can build on that, it will be alright.

Are you ever tempted to stop being a social entrepreneur and get a “normal job”? What keeps you going?

Definitely not! The thing that keeps me going is the freedom and fulfilment of running my own enterprise and seeing what we can achieve as a team at Roots HR. I never had that in quite the same way when I worked for other people.

What’s your top tip(s) for social entrepreneur’s on measuring impact?

  • Be crystal clear on what social change or outcomes you seek to achieve.
  • Be realistic about what you can do here and now – look at your resources.
  • Be really ambitious for the future.
  • Be specific about what you set out to achieve each year and review the results, learn from them.

Who is your (social) entrepreneurial idol and why?

The Gandy brothers. They lost their family in the 2006 tsunami and used their situation and story to start up a social enterprise to make really cool flip flops to raise money to help other orphans in the same situation. Their styles and their bravery really inspire me and my friends and family often find a pair of Gandy flip flops in amongst their Christmas presents.

What would you say to your 18 year old self?

Take more risks in life, it will be alright.

If you could only go to one more music concert, which artist would you see (living or dead)?

I would ask Jeff Lynne to get ELO back together and take a bunch of friends to see them. It’s great to see Jeff Lynne relaunching his career right now.

What do you get out of witnessing for the SSE?

A definite sense of appreciation from the SSE team and the students for my professional knowledge that I can offer as a chartered HR Practitioner. Also a sense of close alignment between the needs of the students and Roots HR’s social purpose. And a real sense of pride in making a small contribution to the success not just of SSE but to the diverse enterprises that the students develop as a result of being part of SSE.


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