Inspirational Woman: Rosanne Gray | CEO, In Kind Direct

Meet Rosanne Gray

CEO, In Kind Direct

Rosanne Gray is In Kind Direct’s Chief Executive, who for over twenty years has worked in a variety of organisations from large corporations, entrepreneurial start-ups to foundations focused on developing solutions to social and environmental problems.

In Kind Direct is a charity founded by HM King Charles III who distribute donated usable consumer products to their network of over 4,500 charitable organisations across the UK. Rosanne is on a mission to ensure everyone has access to life’s essentials and that no useable product goes to waste, appealing for product donations from companies and more charitable organisations to join the network

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Business is in my blood. I grew up in Glasgow in a family where owning and running businesses is the norm. From cotton to confectionery, publishing to hospitality, I was brought up to know that business can be an engine for good. I always knew that I wanted to step into the world of business, but my family taught me that a great business is only ever a means to a bigger end.

I have never planned out a career and every opportunity I have had has been a new chapter, with a new problem to solve that has built my skills and experience. Even today, twenty odd years into a ‘career’ I am excited for what the future will hold!

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Many!

  • Whether starting up a business in China and India and trying to understand very different legal requirements and traditions
  • Building up a customer base for a new business, while at the same time creating the service offering and finding great people to be part of the team
  • Stepping into a charity and knowing there is a huge financial hole that needs to be met quickly to ensure that we can support and impact many people’s lives whilst also remaining operational efficiency
  • Learning how to lead in an all male leadership environment and being confident and comfortable to be myself!

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

We have all experienced an incredibly challenging couple of years and this has been no different at In Kind Direct. I took on my current role a few months before the pandemic hit and we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to financially survive, or continue to deliver much needed life’s essentials at a time when keeping safe, clean and well was needed more than ever before! Two years later as a team, we are very proud of the fast-paced changes we made to adapt our operations, innovate during the crisis and today be able to serve nearly double the number of people every week than we did pre-pandemic.

At In Kind Direct, we believe that everyone deserves access to life’s essentials and no useable product should go to waste. We understand only too well through our network of over 4,000 charitable organisations, that many more people are struggling due to the current cost of living crisis. With key hygiene products such as  tooth paste, deodorant, period products and washing powder being  high in demand, the product donations we receive from donating companies  ensure less people need to make the choice of whether to eat, heat or keep clean. Our recent campaign, #PoweredByKind brought to life stories of people who have been positively impacted by product giving, highlighting how hygiene products can have such an impact on one’s confidence, self-worth and dignity.  Building a great team that knows each other’s strengths, values and is working towards the same purpose has been at the heart of our ability to grow our impact during a time of crisis.

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What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Seeking great people to work with, who are tackling big questions where I am able to live out my purpose, bring my strengths and learn and grow with others to build solutions.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I have been very fortunate to have had wonderful mentors on my journey, who have guided, supported and advised me and I have sought to do the same for others.

I have experienced how lonely it can be setting up your own business and I am delighted to be a Trustee of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, where one of our programmes is a gold-accredited Mentoring Women in Business programme. We have supported almost 6,000 women entrepreneurs in developing countries with mentors and we hear from these women the power of mentoring to grow and strengthen their businesses and build their skills, confidence and knowledge.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

I carried out research in sub–Saharan Africa understanding the impact of education on girl’s opportunities and realising the huge divide and struggle for girls to succeed. Today, even here in the UK we still see the disparity of girls taking STEM subjects at school. For us to see change and equality I believe that this starts with reviewing our education systems and supporting girls to play sports, take subjects and have confidence to have their voices heard that will set them up for the working world.

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

Keep curious, creative and seeking challenges while keeping close to your family and friends!

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

We are about to welcome our first baby into our family – so a new challenge that will bring a new identity, new challenges and new rhythms! As I look at the next year I think I am going to be delighted if we all manage to get enough sleep and enjoy getting to know each other as we work out how to be parents!

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