Meet the team: Adam Cox, Lead Consultant
Adam gives us a deep introspective insight into his life working in social value – including how his family ties to social enterprise, “do better” ethos and adaptive mindset feed into his role delivering positive change against a backdrop of changing needs.
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With more than a decade of experience in community regeneration and helping improve social value outputs in the private sector, Adam has been a true force for good during his 18-month tenure at the Centre.
By assisting numerous clients – from housing associations and national banks to transport organisations and local authorities – in navigating the challenges of Covid 19, they have been able to emerge stronger by embedding social value, inclusion and co-operation into the bedrock of their work.
"Social value will never mean the same to each organisation and that’s the beauty of it. It's personal.”
Beginning at the Centre with a specific remit of developing social value opportunities for clients and incorporating social businesses into public and private sector supply chains, social value is a life-long vocation rather than just a job for Adam:
“My work and life developed around the ethos of helping others. My dad has run a social enterprise for about 20 years, so it was always an interest of mine. His main business is working with adults with learning disabilities to help them gain more independence. I love my job and how it allows me to help companies and colleagues grow in their understanding of what social value is.”
Adapting through Covid-19
Adam joined us just as Covid-19 changed our society, the way we work and the needs within our sector. This had a not inconsiderable impact on his first few months, but his resilience shone through.
As we pivoted overnight to working online, Adam played a pivotal role in facilitating the ‘Tablet Loan Scheme’ on secondment with Digital Communities Wales – helping get digital devices to people in Wales most at risk of digital exclusion during the pandemic.
“There is already some fantastic advancement in attitude and culture helping to reshape the way everyone thinks about social value, but there’s still work to be done."
In May 2021, Sarah Evans, our incumbent Commercial Director, took the helm of the Commercial Team. Sarah’s appointment, as Adam emphasises, will help the Centre challenge the status quo as well as push forward in facilitating social impact, sustainability, inclusion and circular economy integration for clients, while helping shape the agenda for Wales as a whole:
“We are led by an incredible new Commercial Director in Sarah. She isn’t afraid to challenge the narrative and this excites me because it gives me the chance to do the same with my clients.”
“There is already some fantastic advancement in attitude and culture helping to reshape the way everyone thinks about social value, but there’s still work to be done. We have an amazing statute in the Well-being and Future Generations Act, however, we have to work together to interpret this into social reform on the ground by adopting social value within delivery across the board.”
Coming from a role within the construction industry, Adam brought with him a wealth of knowledge in creating social value – serving as a springboard to develop within a dedicated, values-based Commercial Team here at the Centre:
“I can’t really put into words how great this place is to work! Everyone seems to have the same ethos and that allows creative expression and our professionalism to seamlessly align. This makes for a fantastic recipe to allow me to try new things. Some of my areas of weakness have been allowed to become strengths because there is always someone to mentor or otherwise help with anything you need.”
Having adapted to support projects across the Centre, Adam has been able to develop a unique overview of how we all ultimately strive to improve lives and livelihoods in Wales, through reciprocating social value.
So, what is social value?
With numerous guises, social value development should not be approached on a one-size-fits-all basis. Nor is it a matter of fit and forget. Social value, as Adam defines, is much more a matter of wholesale perennial change with universal buy-in:
“For me, it is simple. Social value should be very personal to an organisation. Social value is a benefit to the community that arises from a step change to ‘business as usual’. It sometimes happens in procurement, outside of contracts or commissions and needs to be directed from the top down, in whichever way it develops.”
“I am lucky to be working with some bold and forward-thinking organisations that want social value to run through the fabric of their organisation which is really exciting.”
"Social value should be very personal to an organisation. Social value is a benefit to the community that arises from a step change to ‘business as usual’. It sometimes happens in procurement, outside of contracts or commissions and needs to be directed from the top down, in whichever way it develops.”
There is still work to be done though, says Adam, to get the message out about how social value can be extracted from the operation of any business, providing everyone involved shares the same vision:
“Within some businesses, and particular departments there’s a belief that social value principles don’t apply to them or isn’t relevant. Social value will never mean the same to each organisation and that’s the beauty of it. It’s personal.”
Purpose and profit
With emphasis on profit and loss in the commercial business world, it’s apparent that measuring return on investment based on a single, monetary bottom line is not always fit-for-purpose, either. Particularly when considering broader benefits offered by increasing social impact, says Adam:
“When the sole purpose of an organisation is to make a bigger profit than last year, it doesn’t always generate creative thinking around social cohesion, and we will rarely see innovative social value outcomes as a result.”
“What I would like to see is the move away from financial returns being the dominant measure in contracts and collective responsibility to ‘do better’ being a culture that every organisation in Wales strives for.”
Further elaborating on his hopes for the future and plans for commercial consultancy services at the Centre, Adam says:
“Honestly, there is just so much exciting change happening in the area of social value. Ultimately, I would want each company in Wales to understand what social value means to them and the communities they work in or affect. We are going to concentrate on helping organisations that want to invest in real change. We can help develop growth or cost benefits, while also making some real difference with social value reforms.”
“We want to help organisations understand, plan, realise and measure their social value in the best way possible for them. Social value can be developed within any organisation and it’s always worth speaking to us about how we can help you with your social value goals and objectives.”