Spotlight on our Experts: Caroline Doran

Oct 26 / Caroline Doran
Caroline Doran is a Charity Change specialist. She works with charity leaders to help them design and deliver transformational change.

She has designed, delivered, and facilitated individual, team and organisational change in the non-profit sector for over 15 years. From complex, multi-partner programmes to individual career development sessions, her work is driven by a belief that change is an opportunity for growth that we can embrace. 

Tell us a bit about your career journey. How did you get into the charity sector?

I spent 10 years of my career at Cancer Research UK.  I learnt so much in my roles there and had the opportunity to work on and lead some major change programmes.  I spent a good chunk of my time there leading the transition of the organisation’s London Research Institute into the Francis Crick Institute.  

It was a huge and complex project, one of the most challenging I’ve ever worked on and I loved it for that! I’ve worked in and with charities my whole career.  Starting off at Leonard Cheshire almost twenty years ago!  I ‘grew up’ professionally speaking at The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations.  My role there grew and expanded over time and I learnt so much about the internal runnings of a charity, leadership and management. 

It is also where I was first introduced to coaching.  I was given the opportunity to work with a coach when I moved in to my first people management role and it was transformational.  I honestly believe having a coach is one of the most impactful forms of development we have open to us.

Then, three years ago I decided I really wanted to take what I had learnt through these incredible experiences and support as wide a range of charities and purpose-led individuals as I could by setting up my own business.  Deliver Grow is the result of that decision.  It was probably the scariest step I’ve taken in my career but, and I think these things are definitely linked, also the most rewarding and satisfying. I now get to work ‘on purpose’ every single day by working with individuals, teams and organisations to help them embrace the opportunities of change. 

What has been the biggest career highlight for you so far?

It’s so hard to choose!  Working on the Crick programme was such a privilege – being at the opening ceremony when the Queen officially opened the new building is something I will never forget!  

And setting up Deliver Grow and being at the helm of my own purpose-driven business with opportunities to learn and grow every day has been and continues to be a huge highlight.

And your greatest learning?

The things that stop us are so often within us and it is within our power to change when we look for, find and let go of those limitations.
I honestly believe having a coach is one of the most impactful forms of development we have open to us. 
Caroline Doran

What was important to you in developing an online course, and how did you find the process of its development?

This year I have been getting real clarity and focus on my purpose and mission.  I want to support as many people as I can to embrace change.  This quote from John Maxwell sums it up for me “Change is inevitable, growth is optional’.  So developing a course for leaders and managers to build the skills set and mindset to lead their teams through change was such a brilliant opportunity and bang on purpose for me!  

I am so passionate about what I’ve included in the course and I want to be able to share that as widely as possible.  An online course is a brilliant way to do that.  It was really important to me that the course was practical and actionable.  And the fact that the modules are broken down in to bite-sized sections and can be worked through at each individual’s pace means it’s really accessible for people who are already busy!
I really enjoyed putting the course together. It certainly pushed me out of my comfort zone which tells me it was a great learning opportunity for me! I had to get comfortable with seeing and hearing myself on camera – took some time! It has been so valuable for me to bring together, structure and communicate clearly the expertise, insight and knowledge I have developed over the past 15 years of leading change in the sector. I’ve really enjoyed the process of doing it and I’m really excited to hear what others think!

Trust your gut, listen to your heart, own your strengths.
Caroline Doran

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Trust your gut, listen to your heart, own your strengths.

How can online learning best help support individuals to accelerate and amplify positive social change?

In so many ways! By building skills and knowledge we are better informed to deliver against our goals. Learning requires reflection, it takes an element of vulnerability by allowing us to own what we don’t know yet and it requires some space and time away from the busy to-dos. To me, all of that is essential for us to show up as our best selves, become and stay empowered and make change happen. 

What advice would you give to people looking to progress their career in this difficult time?

Look after yourself first.  If you are exhausted and stressed out you aren’t going to progress anywhere!  Physically, mentally, emotionally – what do you need to remain well and have the energy you need? 

This is always the place to start. 

Next, what’s most important to you? What difference do you want to make in the world? And from that understanding, what is the next step towards it.  Breaking down the path step-by-step can help a long journey feel manageable and, very important, enjoyable! 

Stay connected, build your network, be open to opportunities and possibilities – these can come from unlikely sources!  And finally, be open to learning through the process.  For each application, interview, knock back, success, what have you learnt – about yourself, others, the process, the world?

What excites you right now in your sector and wider social impact world? Do you see important innovations emerging and new ways of creating impact?

That we have the opportunity to pivot globally. Coronavirus has been devastating. I strongly believe that we cannot let that be its only legacy. We have the opportunity to change course, focus on what is truly important for a good and sustainable life on this planet. The question now is whether we will take it.

What does ‘purpose-driven work’ mean to you and why is it important? 

To me, this means being aligned with your values, vision and daily action. It means being focussed on an outcome that is bigger than your individual needs.

It is about creating change for good in your world. And on a personal level, it is what gets me out of bed in the morning!
Featured Course

Leading Through Change 

Caroline leads a course on Utopy called 'Leading Through Change.' Enrol today to deepen your ability to lead through ambiguity. Learn the skills and behaviours that will help you support your staff through change. 
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