A warm welcome to Will Fletcher the latest member of the Recycling Lives board

We are delighted to announce that Recycling Lives has a new Director. Please join us in welcoming Will Fletcher to our social business!

Will joins us after an exciting career that has seen him move from the UK to Ireland, then to Spain – then back to the North of England again. Throughout, he has demonstrated dedication and commitment to his work, and he now brings that determination to Recycling Lives, where he will help to drive forward our expansion programme.

It all started for Will in his native Blackburn, where, following his education at Darwen Moorland High School, he attended college. The studious young man took A-Levels in maths, physics and computing, and gained a place at Warwick University to study “MORSE”.

It didn’t involve learning about police investigations in Oxford, and there was more to it than dots and dashes, as Will explains:

“It stands for ‘Maths, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics’! I took it because I thought it would be a bit of everything so it wouldn’t get too deep. The reality was the opposite: it was a lot of everything! There were all these super-bright people at Warwick who were all really confident, and I felt well out of my depth at first.”

Will applied himself and gained his degree, then started looking for a career:

“I looked into investment banking, consulting and accountancy. I had an interview with Barclays in London, which they actually paid me to attend! But I went to work for Capital One in Nottingham, because I thought it would be more interesting work and have a better work-life balance. At the time, Capital One, an American business, was a new thing for the UK.”

Taking to the work with his usual vigour, Will took his accountancy qualification with Capital One and eventually moved from finance to fraud, combating organised crime, which was costing the company millions. The systems his team developed made the organisation huge savings, but Will wanted to explore other options.

After five years of working for Capital One, he went to Dublin for a year with Barclays, at their European Call Centre. It was boom time, and Will found the experience of working with his Irish, Italian and Spanish colleagues immensely exciting. He followed this with 3 years in Spain, living in Zaragoza and then the capital, Madrid.

“I was responsible for working out how to ensure people who had borrowed from Barclays paid us back! I loved living in Zaragoza; it was the best place I’d ever been. I was doing a lot of outdoor sports – mountain biking, snowboarding and canyoning!”

Unfortunately, the credit crisis hit whilst Will was in Spain. His view was that because Barclays was such a big bank, it was incredibly difficult to get the things done to fix the problem. He decided to leave, and moved from Zaragoza to Madrid, joining a start-up business that helped other businesses to get through the economic crisis.

During his time in Madrid, Will became a father. This happy event caused him to take stock of his career. He simply was not enjoying working in the financial sector any more. He had become disillusioned:

“Being in a relatively comfortable financial position, I became increasingly disheartened with working out how to recover money from people who had fallen on hard times.”

Time to move on, and this time, it was back to the UK for Will and his family. He joined Morrisons in Bradford, to work in a very fast paced commercial environment. The retailer was going through major changes, and Will helped to drive the business forward.

Whilst on a Common Purpose course as part of his senior management development, he met Steve Jackson OBE, Chief Executive of Recycling Lives. Meeting Steve and finding out about Recycling Lives was a life-changing moment for Will:

“I hit it off with Steve straight away. I really liked the Recycling Lives philosophy. The social business proves you can make a profit but also put something back into society. I want to help grow the model, which is pioneering. Recycling Lives has great potential to make big, positive changes in the UK.”

Will now had his heart set on coming to Recycling Lives. He asks himself key questions about his role in the expanding social business, which he feels is full of opportunity:

“How do I help RL and work with the Board, each of the directors, to fulfil the vision that Steve has set? How do we grow the business and the charity? How do we go from Preston-based to national? How do we make that work?”

The answers will be reached, for Will, by working closely with each director of Recycling Lives:

“I am here to work with each director on their set of objectives to help them to grow their bit of the business. For example, I will be working with Jonathan Taylor on the technology, Neil Flanagan on the social welfare charity, and Alasdair Jackson on the operational side.”

Although exceptionally dedicated to his work, Will has a full life outside Recycling Lives. He is married to Heather, his childhood sweetheart from Blackburn, and they have two children, aged four and two. Will also enjoys a range of outdoor sports, including snowboarding and mountain biking; he has cycled across the Rockies, the Alps, and Scotland!

He is also delighted to be working at Recycling Lives, and has found that his colleagues share his passion for the business. Will says:

“They have got an incredibly strong work ethic – We can make a real difference at Recycling Lives, in the way that the UK thinks about businesses and charities.”

On the subject of charity, Will is deeply interested in our social welfare charity Residents’ progress as they go through their six-stage support plan. Interviewed for this profile, he talked at length about individual Residents’ situations and asked how they were doing on their work placements and training courses.