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Reflecting on our inaugural South West Balancing Profit with Purpose conference

December 19, 2023 | Blog

It’s now just over a month since we hosted our first Balancing Profit with Purpose conference at Valeport HQ in Totnes. With the new year ahead, we thought now would be a good time to reflect on some of the key learning points from the day.

In an era where corporate responsibility and sustainable business practices are front of mind for many, we wanted to show how purpose can deliver a positive impact on sustainability whilst also delivering profit.  We did so by bringing together speakers and delegates with a shared commitment to balancing profit with purpose.

The desire to share our own journey prompted the idea of a South West Balancing Profit with Purpose conference – and what an event it turned out to be! With so many engaging presentations, it was a privilege to be given an insight into every speaker’s interpretation of what purpose and sustainability meant to them. A clear takeaway from the event is that it is possible to make profit a force for good and for it to have a positive influence on the environment, society, stakeholders, and customers.

The feedback received from delegates was that they were inspired by what they heard, and that time spent in a room full of like-minded businesses helped them to think about how purpose fits into their own business practices. With this in mind, we’d like to share with you a brilliant blog written by Katherine Bourke from the South West Growth Service, who attended on the day:


Massive thank you to Rachael Whitson and her team at Absolute PR & Marketing Ltd for bringing together the South West Balancing Profit with Purpose event in Totnes.

Rachael and Ewan from Absolute and our Valeport hosts. Room set. Good to go!

After a brief introduction to set the scene for the morning from Chris Lorimer, Jim McNeill started the session talking about what enticed him to follow a life which would be “as worthwhile as possible”. Given the great work Jim and his team are doing to create citizen scientists through Global Warrior, it was wonderful to hear him speak about both the “treacherous danger and awesome beauty” of Greenland from his expedition in 2016 and “The Walk-Tall Syndrome” in the team around him.

I found Tom Jackson’s thinking about building businesses that are truly mission-led and the powerful stats about the achievements of BCorps truly engaging. Tom’s presentation also reinforced my belief in the positive impact of choosing to do your best work, considerate of the wider implications on those around you, and especially your footprint on this blue planet of ours. I particularly loved Tom’s reference to Philip Davies and the quote that “Purpose is discovered not created”.

Ewan Davy from Absolute spoke of their journey as a PR agency which has really chosen to walk the talk, being “for community, cause and climate”. Have a look at their Impact report for details. Ewan also invited us all to think about whether we are making enough of our purpose, to think more about how to #walkthetalk, using mission statements to set targets, recognising areas for improvement and of course the importance of metrics and leadership. The case studies he shared were very powerful, and local, and it was great to meet Mel Connell in person, from Cleaner Seas Group® who were one of those mentioned.

Hearing from an architect took me off into the physical world of how we want to live, be that at work or at home – what spaces do we want and need? Adam Parsons, I loved your concept of developing affordable, adaptable housing to serve people for many generations, a thought-ful and very considered house. We didn’t have chance to talk about other innovators like Frank Lloyd Wright or Jorn Utzon – hopefully we can another time! And I love your comment about the need to commit: make a plan and do that. And then do more.

The morning closed with Katie Eaton from Redpaddle who trained in Plymouth, talking about Red Paddle’s mission to be “Inspiring Adventures” and how that enables them to always focus on “taking steps to be more responsible”. I loved your guidance on how the design team in particular focuses on the circular economy, material choices, and design with repair in mind. So much so, that alas it seems I took no pictures while you were speaking!

Business as a force for good is real. For me, it’s about we collectively wake up to recognise the scale of the changes we all have to make and then to make them. Being a part of this community of people who are purpose-led is what I am also very thankful for, so thank you to you all for being there and here’s to seeing the impact of our collective action in the months and years ahead…


Thank you to Katherine and to everyone who attended for your huge contribution to the day; to our partners and speakers Jim McNeill, Explorer, Future Shift APG | B Corp™, Red Paddle Co, South West Growth Service Limited and Valeport and to all in the audience for such amazing feedback on our first event.

The SW Balancing Profit with Purpose conference delivered what we hoped it would – it brought together a community of like-minded, purpose-led individuals for the first time, and we look forward to evolving and growing this community over the coming months and years.

If you are interested in attending and/or participating in any future events we are planning, please so get in touch: