Ri Ferrier is Managing Director of Heart Based Living Initiative CIC, a non-profit dedicated to bringing more calm, connection and wellbeing to people across the whole of the UK.
She received a BA (Hons) in Business Enterprise and much of her career has been around initiating new projects, marketing and being a catalyst for positive change.
Her love of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurialism has been brought to the corporate world, the social enterprise sector and to non-profits.
She is passionate about building a better world for future generations and has also published a book: ‘Voice of the Children’ – a compilation of 9-11-year olds’ ideas on how to improve the world.
Her personal motto is ‘dare to dream’.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I am driven by making a difference in the world and have a driving need to leave a good legacy behind for the next generations. I love innovation, creativity and out of the box thinking and much of my career has been around being a catalyst for positive change. I studied entrepreneurialism at university then went on to a project management type role in the corporate world. Whilst raising my two boys I was a self-employed freelance business consultant, working with lots of great ethical companies. For the last two years, I have the privilege of being the MD for The Heart Movement – a non-profit with a great vision to bring about a massive difference to people’s lives across the UK.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Great question! I’m an interesting mix of having a solid 5 year plan combined with being an intuitive mover when things do not feel in alignment with my dream. I have to be fully behind everything I do; I do not seem to have the capacity to be in a career that maybe ticks just some of the boxes. It has to tick all of them! Life is too short and I feel I want to make the best of the time that I have.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Challenges are such a big part of life and my personal motto is dare to dream! I’ve overcome lack of self confidence due to a troubled childhood, divorce, financial insecurity, loss of a close family member from suicide – and self doubt that I can make an impact. That is probably a long enough list! Life is such a rich and varied tapestry – we have no control over the things that life throws at us but we do have control over how we respond. As a great teacher once told me, you can be dealt a poor hand of cards but its how you play it that makes the difference.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Bringing two incredibly fine young men into the world would be top of my list. I am very proud of my sons and who they are in the world. I also published a book called ‘Voice of the Children -a compilation of 9-11-year olds’ ideas on how to improve the world’ which was a really important project to me. I sent a copy to many of the MPs because I felt a bridge was needed between what the new generations were calling for and what the older generations were hanging onto.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
Willpower! I see this as our internal fire – sometimes it is roaring and sometimes it is weak yet finding and sustaining a steady pilot light is key to following a path that you have set for yourself.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I feel mentoring is incredibly important. I had a mentor from the Prince’s Trust in my 20s when I was starting my own company. To have someone who you can bounce ideas off and to share worries and concerns with is priceless. I have mentored individuals and I love holding the space for someone – and watching them grow into who they want to be. I’d love to do more of it!
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?
I believe it has to start with education but it’s not a quick fix at all. Unless we learn equality from a young age, we are never going to shift the culture in my opinion. Sure, we can make gender parity a strategic objective for companies, but it going to be harder to convince people that have lived their whole lives in a biased world of the importance of this. Power is an interesting topic and let’s be honest, that is what is at stake here. The attitudes and beliefs about the role of women need to shift much faster than they are doing. Some say that our core beliefs are embedded by age 7 – so the way we parent our children is fundamental to accelerating the pace of change.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
To believe more in myself – personal history is not the only thing that makes a person – it is also what your dreams are, what you believe in and the people you surround yourself with.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
My next challenge is getting The Heart Bus funded and on the road. I really want to show the impact of this on mental health and get funding for a fleet of buses!
How do you think the UK’s mental health has been affected during the pandemic?
I believe that the pandemic has had a severe impact on mental health, the likes of which has not been seen since World War 2. The prolonged uncertainty, the constant fear, the enforced isolation from loved ones, the loss of financial security – all of these have had profound impacts on people. The mental health of the nation was already in a poor state and I don’t feel that the full impact of the pandemic will be known for a long time – maybe generations.
What can be done to help the nation’s mental health as we emerge out of lockdown?
I feel that there is much fear and anxiety around transitioning out of lockdown – is it safe to meet people again? How will working in an office feel? I feel that many of us will feel rusty with social skills. It is important that each person emerges at their own pacing – there is no one size fits all – some will be raring to go and some will need lots of support. Making routines, staying connected, eating well and getting exercise outdoors are really important as we come out of lockdown. I feel it is important to have a wide range of initiatives that can support people. The Heart Bus is one such way – where we are offering practical mindfulness teachings, listening spaces and a place for people to connect again in a safe environment.
WeAreTheCity has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Cherie Blair, Paula Radcliffe MBE, Caprice Bourret, Anna Williamson and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here.