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Career Inspo with Robert Music – Chief Executive of Jo’s Trust!

January 23, 2018

Welcome to the very first edition of the Sarah Ellis Coaching Career Inspo Blog!

This will be a monthly interview with someone who has followed their passion, dreamed big and now has a successful and exciting career. Whether you are searching for your passion or looking for guidance and insight from those in your chosen industry, the Career Inspo blog will have something for everyone. From Chief Executives, to inventors, from property moguls to artistic entrepreneurs, the 2018 line up is certainly set to provide plenty of inspiration and motivation!

I am now delighted to feature Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo’s Trust, in the January 2018 edition. Jo’s Trust is the only UK charity dedicated to women affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities and envisions a future where cervical cancer is a thing of the past. Read on to discover Rob’s career story and to find out more about the wonderful work of Jo’s Trust.

Rob has been CEO of Jo’s Trust for 9 years.

Sarah Ellis: Thank you so much for taking the time to be interviewed for the Career Inspo Blog! Could you share with the readers a summary of your role and your key responsibilities?

Rob Music: I take the lead on the charity’s strategy, set the tone around our values and behaviours, be the external voice of the charity and for those who we support. I also ensure the charity operates effectively, efficiently, within its means; manage and work with the Senior Management Team to achieve annual and longer term goals, support our board of trustees and ensure good governance as ultimately I am responsible to the board.

SE: Why did you choose to work for Jo’s Trust?

RM: It just felt right when I saw the job advertised. I saw the huge potential and need to grow and professionalise all aspects of the charity. I was excited by the fact that achieving growth could result in better support for those living with a cervical cancer diagnosis but also that we could prevent and reduce numbers being diagnosed through encouraging more women to attend cervical screening.

SE: What was your route into the role?

RM: Somewhat strange as I was a jeweller in a past life, but having given up that career and having returned to England after a year of travelling, I wanted to use my business skills in a way that will do some good. My first job was as a trust and companies fundraiser at the Stroke Association and from there I became Fundraising Manager for Research into Ageing, which was then merged with what was then called Help the Aged (now Age UK). I reported to their CEO and it was through this I became interested in running a charity and my first CEO role was with Endometriosis UK, after which I joined Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.

SE: What makes you jump out of bed in the morning to go to work?

RM: I honestly love my job. I work with a fantastically engaged, professional, fun and supportive team. The charity’s vision is to see cervical cancer eradicated and what is more empowering than to be able to play a small role in potentially making a cancer disappear! The charity has been through a period of positive growth which means I am constantly learning at the same time and so it always feels like a new job to me.

SE: What have been your biggest challenges/learning curves? And what reignites your passion on the tough days?

RM: The biggest challenge is managing growth, to ensure we continue to be financially viable, that we never lose our focus and that everyone that comes to Jo’s feels valued, special and listened to. I have seen it at other charity’s that it is easy to become bogged down by admin and that personal touch is lost; we work very very hard to ensure that doesn’t happen at Jo’s.
What reignites my passion is quite simply our vision of eradicating cervical cancer and ensuring that no women who is diagnosed goes without the support they need.

SE: What are your key moments/most memorable experiences in your role at Jo’s?

RM: Just before I joined the charity, Jade Goody was diagnosed with cervical cancer and her very public battle with the disease (until she sadly passed away) was played out in our living rooms 24 hours a day. This resulted in me having to very quickly learn the key issues around the disease and what needed to be improved in terms of awareness, education, prevention and support as I had to undertake a significant number of media interviews to ensure those messages were relayed.

There are so many great experiences that it is hard to nail one down, but I was incredibly proud that a couple of years ago we won a GSK / Kings Fund IMPACT Award that recognises the work and impact a charity is having in improving health as it’s a highly valued and respected award in the voluntary sector. Not long ago we were awarded a major grant from the Tampon Tax Fund, that has enabled us to go much deeper into communities and raise awareness of cervical cancer prevention. Lastly, is just that I thoroughly enjoy and value working with my staff team and trustees who have been on this important journey.

SE: What key strengths do you have that make you great at your role?

RM: I am not sure about being great but I think my key skills are around having a clear strategic vision for the charity and making it happen, recruiting and developing very good people, building a team, and being able to build relationships with key groups; be it health and policy influencers, funders, or our user group and financial and business management. I thoroughly enjoy meeting and working with those living with cancer or abnormalities and learning about their issues and challenges that help drive our strategy.

SE: Do you have a role model or mentor? If so, what have you learnt from them that has helped you in your current role and overall career?

RM: I hope I don’t upset anyone by saying I haven’t got one role model. I think what I did is learnt a lot from the many managers and other people that I have worked with (both good and bad!) which has helped me to develop into the person and manager I am today. In terms of mentors I do have one and find it incredibly helpful and would thoroughly recommend it.

SE: What advice would you give someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

RM: Go for it! It’s hard at times but incredibly rewarding. But be clear about why you want to do it, consider the type of charity or cause that will (or won’t) excite you, be nosey and ask questions, and meet with other charity leaders to learn from their experiences.

SE: What are the top things to consider when choosing and pursuing a meaningful career?

RM: Be clear about why you want to pursue that direction, does it offer you the development you want? And ask yourself whether it will make you happy and fulfilled.


To keep up to date on the work going on at Jo’s Trust and to find out how you can get involved, you can follow Rob on Twitter @robmusic_ or follow the official Jo’s Trust twitter @JoTrust and Instagram page joscervicalcancertrust.