One year after On Purpose: where are they now? With Rosi Croom

Rosanna Croom (Rosie).jpeg
One year after completing the On Purpose Associate Programme, we catch up with our October 2021 Fellows to find out what they are up to now. Today, we're delighted to be speaking with Rosi Croom.

Can you tell us about your background and your career prior to On Purpose?

My background is quite diverse. I started my career working on a ‘creative portfolio’, consisting of theatre production, music, vintage fashion purchasing and events. I didn't really have one set direction until I was in my late twenties when I joined Cannes Lion Festival of Creativity, a giant advertising organisation essentially known as the ‘Oscars of the advertising world’, and, on an annual basis, would travel to Cannes, as well as globally, to convene these awards. I also still worked in and out of the music industry as a performer, session artist and music director until lockdown.

Why did you join the On Purpose Associate Programme?

Working between the music and advertising sectors, I gradually started to feel quite torn between my values and what I was good at, until eventually my values - especially looking after the planet - took priority. The COVID-19  pandemic gave me an opportunity to retrain and reorientate myself. I started a Masters’ degree in Sustainability while also working at Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm. My degree then made me realise that I wasn't seeing the change that was needed in terms of a sustainability strategy within that organisation. 

Luckily, I heard of the Associate Programme through Edelman and knew I just had to do it! On Purpose was looking for generalists, and I realised that that was exactly who I am. I’ve always enjoyed jumping into something completely new and seeing how I could make an impact - whether that’s in business development, marketing, sustainable business practices or creative projects. It also felt really exciting to take a bigger picture view of the ‘purpose’ sector and learn more about systems change and how to apply that to my work. 

It's been one year since you completed the Associate Programme. What are you doing now?

A year ago, I took a leap into the world of climate finance and, until recently, was working for Climate Action 100+, an investor-led initiative that aims to ensure that the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters take action on climate change. As their Communications Lead, I convened global stakeholders, including engagement experts, investors and scientific advisors and helped them package their research and work in a way that moved our business objectives forward. 

Overall, my work was super meaningful, but I'd say I’m most proud of getting stuck into Diversity, Equality and Inclusion initiatives within the organisation and raising the profile of some of these issues to the senior leadership. 

I’m now pleased to say I’ve recently joined Ad Net Zero as their Global Senior Marketing & Communications Manager. As well as being their media relations liaison, I’m engaging new groups around the world to raise the profile of emissions reduction in the advertising industry. Having worked at Edelman and Cannes Lions, this is something that's extremely important to me. And I’m really happy to say that as part of my new role I will also be working with my old employer at Cannes Lions to run parts of the ‘Act Responsible Stage’ programme.

Can you tell us more about your placements?

My first placement was with sustainability startup Pinwheel. During my time with Pinwheel I supported the running of their COP26 event in Glasgow. I also created a bespoke impact framework that helped Pinwheel better understand and communicate the impact they were having as a business.

My second placement was at the Forward Institute which is a responsible leadership think tank. The Institute gathers CEOs from some of the UK’s top organisations, for example Tesco or the Met Police, and convenes and trains them on responsible leadership, so that they can embed these practices into their organisations and make a huge difference. As an Associate, I helped the Director of Communications develop the organisation's communications strategy and also curated and wrote the Forward Institute's first ever integrated impact report. 

What’s the most important thing you learnt during your year as an Associate?

I went into the programme very focused on environmental sustainability and felt that that is the absolute priority. And while I still think it is, the programme affirmed the importance of the cultural components of sustainability, such as inclusivity, environmental racism and  justice, ‘bringing your whole self to work’ and more. All of these social issues now very much feel in symbiosis with the environmental side. So in everything I do, I want to be able to consider and work on both to the best of my abilities and demand that the organisation I work for does the same.

What support did you get along the way? 

I received a lot of support from many different people. Firstly, from the core team, who were always available when things were stressful. They are a naturally empathetic group of people who are incredibly important on this journey. 

I can’t understate how important the cohort is. Our cohort group was really ‘a home from home’. Everyone was going through their own personal situations and were able to share their different perspectives, which meant we fostered a very open and compassionate group of people who you could always turn to. Besides providing emotional support, my cohort was also an incredible resource who had a lot of practical knowledge I could bring into my placements. My growth trajectory over the year was very pronounced and this was without doubt partly due to this amazing group of people.

How did you approach finding a job after the programme?

It was quite a  busy time! Towards the end of the programme I was finishing my Masters’ degree, I  was about to get married and was also moving house. So I approached job hunting with a no nonsense-do-what-needs-to-be-done kind of way. I was very proactive and looked at a number of jobs which I felt might challenge me and allow me to further develop a number of skills. I applied to anything that I felt would offer me those opportunities and got the job done. That was a necessity at the time. However, when looking for my new role, I slowed down the process and really reflected on what is going to challenge me, yes, but also what is going to make me happy and fulfilled. 

I feel like I've learnt a lot about both how to look for a job and how not to!

What do you miss about your old career, and what don’t you miss?

Part of the reason why I flitted between deeply creative and ‘office’ jobs is because I am a naturally creative person who likes to be in collaborative, non-conventional spaces. But I also like to be intellectually stimulated, challenged and feel like I have an impact on the world. So the ‘office roles’ I've had have been able to provide me with that stimulation, however, there’s a trade off to be had. Ideally I liked to be in a more creative space at all given times.

What advice would you give to others in a similar situation?

If you are thinking about applying to the Associate Programme or have already been accepted, try not to go into the year with preconceived ideas of what you want to do on the way out. 

And don't take on too much outside of the programme because it's not just about the hours the programme takes but also the emotional space it occupies during the year. It can be consuming in the best possible way so be kind to yourself and keep an open mindset.