How to give back

Dom Hyams offers advice on how to balance money and mission in business

In his work as digital and communications director of Grid Smarter Cities, Dom Hyams is committed to improving the lives of people living in cities by developing smarter and more cost-effective services. 

Know yourself  

I always knew that I’d wanted to do something that had a tangible benefit for others. I knew that I wouldn’t be satisfied with a pen-pushing role – not that there’s anything wrong with those kind of jobs. I’ve just always wanted to find work that energised me and was in line with my personal passions. 

Learn from the best 

I joined the Channel 4 graduate trainee scheme back in 2009 and was immediately seconded to the production company responsible for the Paralympic Games campaign. Although I have brittle bones myself, this was the first time I’d formerly worked in and around disabilities, and it was a total eye-opener for me. The whole campaign was so positive and creative. Channel 4 really got the tone right. 

Embrace the network 

I subsequently got involved with the Government's Disability Confident campaign, as well as becoming the founding editor of the annual Disability Power 100 list. This work exposed me to the wider conversations going on around access, disability and urban planning.  

Follow your heart 

I did some consultancy work for Grid Smarter Cities and really loved their mission – to improve the lives of people living in cities. It’s all about finding smart solutions today, not for the future. When a role came up, I jumped at it. We’re a for-profit company but most of the tech we work with is at the tipping point between pre-revenue and revenue. The idea is to create win-win solutions that provide benefits for both citizens and the wider society, and these range from freight and construction to kerbside access. 

Find your mission 

On a personal level, I really do look for a company mission as a consumer. I find it very difficult when I can’t see any authenticity in what a company is doing. It doesn’t have to be a full-on story about winning hearts and minds, but there needs to be a solid cultural backbone to what they do if it’s going to appeal to me. I don’t think I’m alone here – many modern consumers think similarly, so having a clear mission is becoming key. 

Redefine success 

We need to move beyond an obsession with growth. I think fulfilling a personal mission, a daily passion for your work, and bringing about change in society should be as important as a salary and job title. For anyone wanting to give back a little more with their work, think about the problems you most want to solve, then collaborate to get there quickly. Partnerships and effective teamwork are the key to changing complex situations, so don’t be too precious, and work with whoever you need to get the job done. 

Dom Hyams is digital and communications director of Grid Smarter Cities 

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