Every day during the Christmas holidays we profile winners of the recent IoD Director of the Year Awards. Today it’s Patrick Nash, CEO of Connect Assist, who won the Leadership in Corporate Responsibility Director award
‘We need many more genuinely social businesses’ – Patrick Nash, CEO, Connect Assist
Mental ill-health, debt and unemployment are among the issues tackled daily by Connect Assist, a social enterprise helping people in difficult circumstances. Founded in 2006 by Patrick Nash – who has launched 12 successful charities and social enterprises – it has created 150 jobs in south Wales, delivering services to charities including the Royal British Legion, Mind and the British Red Cross. He explains what it takes to build a truly community-spirited business.
Which businesses most impress you? Those with an integral social purpose, as opposed to firms that see CSR as an add-on that makes good copy for their annual reports. We need many more genuinely social businesses.
Which leaders do you especially admire? My business partner, Rusty Livock, has taught me what true collaboration means. And my father was a role model to me. He was a chartered accountant who grew the family business into a firm of significant size. He spoke of clients as friends, colleagues and partners. This is always at the heart of my approach.
What has been your biggest challenge? Launching Connect Assist, I had to raise £900,000 and didn’t have a penny. I found four sources of finance, which all agreed to fund the enterprise if the others did. It took me six months to get the Welsh government to jump first.
What’s the secret to building a great team? Spot talented people early, incentivise them and plan to pass the business on to them. Ensure there is as much diversity as possible, encourage leadership and let people challenge you.
What advice would you offer fellow directors in turbulent times? Remain optimistic of vision but cautious of prediction
Patrick Nash is a member of IoD Wales
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