Faces of a Vibrant Economy

Published: 14/08/19
Vibrant Economy


Rachel Hannan reflects on what makes ‘vibrant economy’ and why it matters. 

Since 2016 global advisory firm Grant Thornton have chosen  100 people each year from across the UK, who they believe represent the best in ‘innovation, growth and purpose’. ‘Faces of a Vibrant Economy’ recognises the commitment of these people and their contribution to developing an economy that enables people, organisations and communities to flourish.

Last year, alongside other business leaders, entrepreneurs, local government innovators and third sector trailblazers, our Chair, Rachel Hannan was selected from the many  considered. 


Grant Thornton


In everything she does, Rachel is clear that a ‘vibrant economy’ should be something that benefits everyone. That extends to the companies she invests in all having a ‘mission’, whether that’s;

  • CBiS Education & Binary Bots - getting young people excited about programming, engineering and other areas there are skills gaps.
  • Real World Group - undertaking research and developing diagnostic tools to help build leadership capacity and effectiveness so organisations can deliver improved results and outcomes.
  • Cipher Surgical - reducing the risk of infection in everyday medical procedures.

So what has she learned along the way and why is she involved in Faerfield?

“Someone asked me recently ‘what do you do?’ and it’s a question I find embarrassingly hard to answer! I don’t have one overall job title, role or function, and when asked for a convenient ‘label’ I find I don’t comfortably sit in any one box. It can be tricky, but mainly it’s an opportunity - to do what people don’t expect, develop new ideas, work across traditionally separate sectors and last but not least, break down barriers.

In these uncertain times, our economy and our lived experience, is increasingly dependent on how well we learn from, work with and support each other across sectors. Successful entrepreneurs and a strong private sector should be encouraged and celebrated - we need it to create jobs, opportunities and healthy tax revenues to support crucial public services. At the same time we need to appreciate and value the vital role the public sector plays in delivering the services all of us and our families need at some point in our lives. The third sector is increasingly seen as a solution to plug the gaps, and has real strengths in understanding the issues at grass roots level.

I’ve come to appreciate there is much the different sectors can learn from each other, and no one has all the answers. Given ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, I’d argue that the public sector has been at the forefront of change and innovation in a number of areas. Enterprise and entrepreneurship, long seen as the preserve of the private sector, can equally be applied in the public, third and HE sectors to make funding go further and create new solutions.

There is however a common ingredient needed across all sectors that is key to a vibrant economy and a positive society – effective leadership. Bold and ready to take a risk on doing things differently. At the same time mindful of the importance of involving and engaging people on the journey and genuinely making a positive difference for service users, customers, employees and broader stakeholders. Whether leading a company or a council, the effectiveness of a leader is not just about how well they do their own job, but how well they motivate and enable everyone in their organisation to deliver the very best they can.

For me a truly vibrant economy is one where your opportunities to benefit from it are not dependent on where you live or who you are – and we need leaders willing to work together to make this happen.

I’m delighted to have the opportunity to be part of Faerfield and help shape its mission. At our core is a focus on supporting organisations to further develop leadership for today’s world, create opportunities and overcome the challenges leaders now face. Not just finding the right leaders, but helping to further develop leadership potential and capacity in the organisations who deliver the services that really matter.”

Rachel Hannan


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