On Purpose

Patrick Ellen


Patrick is currently an On Purpose London October 2020 Associate.

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

  • I did East Asian Studies at University, focussing on Korea, where I lived and studied for a couple of years
  • After a brief stint working for the Korean government in the UK on trade & investment, I had spent the majority of my career in the retail and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry, at both Boots and Unilever.
  • During my time, I've done various commercial roles in buying, brand management, category management and shopper marketing. I came to the programme with a good understanding of how the world of business works, how to operate in it, but with little direct experience in the world of impact and purpose.
  • Outside of work, I'd done things like being a school governor and working with local campaign groups on specific issues, like air quality and maintaining green spaces.

What are your greatest strengths?

  • Commercial generalist - P&L, cash flow, sales and negotiation, category management, creating business cases etc.
  • Data analysis and turning this into insights and storytelling
  • Stakeholder and customer management

Can you tell me more about your first placement?

  • I've been working at Sustainable Ventures, an organization that supports startups in the cleantech sector to grow faster and more efficiently, with the vision of addressing climate change and resource scarcity through commercial solutions.
  • My focus has been on a new business unit called Sustainable Pioneers, which has the ambition to give more young people access to jobs in the green economy and entrepreneurship skills. 
  • I've done a mix of practical activities to build capability and experience in this space, such as getting new work placement schemes set up, and some of the more strategic thinking, such as creating a theory of change for the unit.

  • I've also been supporting and coaching some of the start ups in the ecosystem on sales, negotiation and company culture.

How did you find making the move to join On Purpose?

  • I'd had my eye on the On Purpose Associate programme for a couple of years but had put off applying to it for one reason or another. It was the shock of the initial wave of the COVID and the fragility of our systems and economy that prompted me to want to make a change. That is a long way of saying I was more than ready for the change when it came to joining On Purpose!
  • Personally, I think the external chaos of everything that happened in 2020 actually made the personal transition much easier.
  • I also knew the cohort part of On Purpose would be good, but it really is incredible to meet and set off on a similar journey with a group of like minded individuals.