I’m having an interesting time settling in to my new role as CEO of ICP Support. It’s only new in the fact that I actually get paid to do it now (and for the record, I took a pay cut). For the last umpteen years it’s been a voluntary role shoehorned in between my work running Professor Catherine Williamson’s research studies and helping to recruit to them.
Up until a few months ago I’d been working seven days a week. That’s not said to garner any sympathy, because it was my choice. But it was clear to us all as Trustees of the charity that we weren’t going to be able to grow ICP Support and reach more women with the condition on volunteers alone (and me doing the equivalent of two full-time posts). We talked about who would be CEO and I wanted to go for it. I’ll be honest: part of me felt it was something I should have because it had been my ‘baby’ from the beginning, but I also recognised that I might not be the right person for the job. There is a lot of talk in the charity sector about something called Founder Syndrome, and it’s a sobering thought that since the article I cite was published, Kids Company (mentioned in the article) has also folded.
So, as a group we sat down with the help of external advisors and worked out a plan that included my succession. Yep, we have already discussed when I will go. And when I do, (not for a few years yet, hopefully), the idea is that I will be given honorary title of ‘President’ which means diddly squat really; it will carry no voting rights and when I am really old and crinkly I will simply be wheeled out at certain events so that I can tell everyone that they are all doing really well. It doesn’t take a psychoanalyst to work out that doing this will still give me a link to the charity and to those two babies that never made it to adulthood – ICP Support has always been about the women who suffer from from the condition, but I’d be daft to ignore the emotional tie to it as well. The Trustees also know this and support me, but make no mistake, at those Trustees’ meetings they take no nonsense from me! They are very happy to use the word ‘no’ if they don’t feel it’s in the best interests of the charity and the people we aim to support. We have a new Chair now and at her first meeting they kept telling her how brilliant she was – I felt crushed – they never said that to me when I was Chair! If you’re interested in joining the team that seem to take delight in giving me a hard time please do contact us. And they’re a great bunch really – say “hello”, Trustees:
Back to the CEO role. The Trustees applied to the Charity Commission (it was very odd having to submit a CV to them) and it took much longer than we thought it would, but in April of this year they approved the appointment. I am now paid for two days a week and I have reduced my work for the professor (that’s another blog). I am delighted as well as scared! I know I’ve been doing it for the past 26 years, but for me it feels like the pressure really is on. I keep being told (reassured) that I am not doing anything different to what I have always been doing (with the help of so many people that if I credited you all it would read like the credits at the end of a film, so I won’t, but thank you!) and not to worry but now it feels real. Does that make sense? I’ve always felt that what I’ve achieved in life has been through a series of flukes and the theory about ‘Imposter Syndrome‘ really resonates with me. I’m going to work on this because so many people are rooting for me and telling me that I’m doing well. But those voices of doubt…
I’ll let you know how I’m doing after my first full year as CEO.