Leadership diaries: "It’s always lovely meeting so many talented people wanting to be part of the organisation"

At 34, Sophie Tebbetts is FoodCycle’s youngest ever female CEO. Before joining FoodCycle as Head of Programmes in 2016, she specialised in programmes delivery and operations with roles for over 11 years in the not-for-profit sector at the British Red Cross and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Jordan. She also ran a successful start-up catering business that provided healthy and nutritious meals to companies such as Uber and Nike.

Since Sophie joined the national charity which takes surplus food and transforms it into community meals across the UK, FoodCycle has prepared and served more than 2.5 million meals. In a recent survey of over 2,000 FoodCycle guests, it was found that 69% eat all or most of their meals alone but 85% make friends when they come to a FoodCycle meal.

Monday
9:00 AM Begin the day by reviewing emails and agenda for the week.

10:00 AM Kick off the week with a meeting with a nutrition research organisation to discuss potential collaboration of a project connected to promoting health eating choices and how community dining facilitates this, along with chatting about the latest research findings in the field of nutrition. Exchange ideas on how to address malnutrition and to track long term improved dietary habits within community settings such as our FoodCycle projects.

11:00 AM Follow-up discussions via email with our current patrons and ambassadors letting them know about our exciting plans this year to celebrate 15 years of FoodCycle

1:00 PM Meeting with the fundraising team to brainstorm new approaches for securing funding for upcoming projects.

3:00 PM Work on drafting a proposal outlining the potential partnership with the nutrition researcher, including objectives, timeline, and budget considerations.
5:00 PM Wrap up the day by reviewing action items and setting priorities for the rest of the week.

Tuesday

Day of lots of external meetings, packed full of interviews for a new member of staff. It’s always lovely meeting so many talented people wanting to be part of the organisation.
Afternoon meeting with the Xcess network, which is a combination of food surplus charities discussing ways on how we can better share resources of surplus amongst charities and helping to support each other with our charitable focus of tackling food waste.

Wednesday
9:30AM Present at morning launch session of our Data 4 Good Day with our corporate partner Danone. Get teams excited and ready of a day of crunching our guests impact data and utilising skills sets to highlight data insights on our operations; and how we can further support our guests. Set them off on their day-long task.

10:00AM Catch up with Head of Finance about how the current audit preparations are going and to look over current accounts.

11:00AM Lead all staffer of 46 team members with each department updating on activities within their projects and roles. Highlighted that we have served over 3000 people per week twice in the last month.

3:00 PM Come back to judge the Data 4 Good Day solutions with our Corporate Partnerships Manager. Categories include ‘Most Innovative Solution’, ‘Best Visuals, ‘Overall Best Presentation’ and ‘Most Interactive’. Blown away with what the teams achieved in the space of a day utilising Power BI and excited to get the final presentations next week to bring back to different teams.

4:00PM Check in with Chair of Trustee on monthly call and update on FoodCycle’s progress and discuss items to bring to newly formed finance, risk and audit committee.
5:00 PM Conclude the day by outlining key action items and next steps for implementing data-driven solutions within the charity's programs, based on the Data For Good Day.

Thursday

10:00AM Review latest policy updates from annual reviews and ensure we are on track to completing any revisions by end of Q1.

11:00AM SMT team focus on impact launch which is taking place in March to showcase what we achieved in 2023 and discuss planning for next SMT away day where the focus will be the next 3-year strategy and ensuring we have the right metrics to measure its success.

1:00PM Chair monthly development meeting where we discuss all new and upcoming projects and areas researching for expansion. Currently at 84 project and on track to reach 100 by the end of this year.

2:00PM Meeting with Head of Programmes to discuss ongoing pilot planning on how best to support children and young people through community dining within a school setting.

4:00PM Drop in to ‘social sips’ call with team most of whom work remotely. This is a half an hour social call encouraging relaxed interactions that aren’t always work focused. Hopefully ensuring that our team feels comfortable and connected with each other, even if we are geographically spread apart.

5.00PM Catch up on emails and inbound enquiries.

Friday

9:00AM Prepare for the visit of a Daniel Ziechner, Labour MP for Cambridge and Shadow Minister for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs by reviewing briefing materials and ensuring that all necessary arrangements are in place.

10:30 AM Welcome Daniel to FoodCycle Cambridge and chat to him about FoodCycle’s mission, projects, and impact within the community.

11:30 AM: Lead a tour of the kitchen at St Andrews, which hosts our weekly meal every Saturday lunchtime to anyone in the Cambridge community who wants to come along. This gives us the chance to chat with some of our volunteers on the impact we have had locally. They tell us how they think we’re doing at tacking our key issues of food poverty, food waste and loneliness and we discuss government support and collaboration. We wrap up the visit by thanking Daniel and his team for their interest and support in FoodCycle and exchange contact information for future collaboration opportunities.

1.00pm Head back to focus on approval of staff and volunteer expenses, very important! Sneak in some much-needed admin to clear the decks.

4:00 PM Debrief email with the SMT to discuss key takeaways from MP Daniel Ziechner’s visit and strategize next steps for engaging policymakers and advocating for policy changes of our key issues.

5.00PM Wrap up the week by reviewing action items and setting priorities for next week. I have two young children – 2 and 4 – so try to stick to a 5pm finish where possible. I believe in fostering an inclusive work culture and promote a remote-first working environment. This means that people can work in a way that suits them best, which is especially important for people who might have additional needs and responsibilities, children but also encourages a healthy work/life balance.



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