Women in Business Interview- Linda Petrons, Director of Fundraising & Communications, Green Fingers Charity
What is your experience of being a woman in the industry?
I feel very privileged to be working for Greenfingers Charity which has been supported by so many in the industry for the last 20 years. When I joined the charity just over four years ago, with a charity background and a passion to make a difference, I actually didn't realise how much I didn't know about gardening let alone the industry! With the support of so many fabulous people, four years on things are very different. My role as Director of Fundraising & Communications continues to be an extremely busy and rewarding one, and I have to say that's mostly thanks to the support and generosity of so many of the charity's industry friends.
Where do you find support for women in the industry?
Whether support is needed 9-5 Monday to Friday or out of hours, I know there are so many people I can call upon for their advice, guidance and support. From Trustees to Ambassadors, to new supporters and old, it's certainly an industry with so many hard working and dedicated people who love the charity. And who, like me, never seem to sleep!
How have you overcome any challenges in the industry?
My biggest challenge when I joined Greenfingers was getting to grips with an “industry charity” and getting to know so many great people who do so many great things. Even though I had previously been a hospice fundraiser, the way that charity raised money was quite different. Greenfingers seems to be at the forefront of the minds of those who work in the world of horticulture which does in many respects does make my job easier as everyone understands the difference a lovely outdoor space makes. That said, I am never complacent and we as a team continue to think of new ways to inspire supporters to get involved. Whether it's Garden Re-Leaf Day, donating Gifts in Kind or doing a promotion which benefits the charity, each new opportunity is, for all of us at the charity a very exciting one.
Who is your biggest female inspiration?
There are many fabulous women in the charity world who I have worked closely with and who continue to inspire me. They make a difference to people's lives because they're passionate about what they do and they work hard. They say “the harder you work, the more success you have” and we see that in so very many hardworking and inspiring ladies in this industry; Caroline Owen and Sarah Squire instantly spring to mind. And we are currently working with garden designer Kate Gould. Kate has designed “The Greenfigners Charity Garden” which be at this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show. We often have very early phone calls and late night email exchanges. Although we both work long hours, I'm grateful that my job is so much easier, I'm not the one working outside in the unpredictable elements, I'm either in a warm office in Beaconsfield or out and about meeting our supporters, often in very nice garden centres!
Do you love gardening yourself?
I love having a nice garden…if that is the same as having a love of gardening then yes!! Like the hospices we support, we all need to have that place to escape to and completely switch off. Whether it's gardening or sitting relaxing with a good book and a glass of wine, there's no other room in the house I'd rather be. Since joining Greenfingers Charity, gardening has most definitely become a bit of a passion but I'm certainly no expert! So, as you can imagine, a meeting in a garden centre will invariably end up with a purchase of a plant or two or even a pot and always a Floreo greetings card! I have to say I'm a very loyal shopper so always head to the products being sold by the businesses which support the charity first!
Describe a typical working day?
No two days are the same which I love! I'm usually in the office at 7ish, it's a quiet time to reflect, plan and also catch up with emails received overnight or from the day before. And at the moment as Garden Re-Leaf Day is just two weeks away, we're all busy busy busy! As well as project managing the charity's Chelsea project, along with my colleague Sally there's always copy to write for press releases, the website and social media too and ensuring we support those who support Greenfingers Charity in any way.
How do you manage the work/life balance?
That's a very good question. The work/life balance issue can sometimes be a challenge when you have a career you love! However it does help that I have grown up children and the fact we live in a world where technology means we can be accessible wherever we are, and at anytime of the day. For me, that's great as it means I'm able to work flexibly and when I need to work from home that certainly helps.
What's next for Greenfingers Charity?
This year it's Greenfingers Charity's 20th Anniversary and so we have a very big milestone to celebrate! As well as opening our 56th garden in the spring, we're also working on three new gardens in children's hospices and planning more. We have a fabulous Main Avenue garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year, which has been sponsored by a private donor, we hope to see many of our industry friends there. Garden Re-Leaf Day is just around the corner, we have a fabulous wing-walkers doing just that in June. We're also planning our inaugural Glee to Monte Carlo Banger Rally and would love the industry to get behind this new event. We're also working on new initiatives and campaigns with some of the businesses who support the charity. So the fundraising continues to flourish which is really great as many life-limited children and their families who spend time in hospices continue to need our help.