Jenny Dawson – Founder of Rubies in the Rubble, a social impact business


Rubies in the Rubble is a social impact business which turns surplus fresh fruit and vegetables into delicious, handmade chutneys and jams. The company recruits its workforce from people who are struggling to get back into work.

What motivates you?

I think you need to always keep the big picture view in the back of your mind to keep you motivated in the day to day, knowing that all the little steps are what creates change. I am motivated in believing world hunger can be eradicated within our lifetime. Currently we waste a third of the food produced globally, whilst almost one billion people go to bed hungry. We have the resources and it’s within our reach but we need to act: utilize, inform and manage the food system better. Of course, there will always be some waste within the system but there is so much more we can do to improve the current situation. It’s obviously a huge and complex system with so much needing done on different levels but no one can do everything. Knowing that I am part of that change keeps me going.

What has been the biggest learning curve
in your career?

Managing people. We had a kitchen for the first two and a half years of Rubies in the Rubble where we employed women from Crisis homeless centre. Managing people, supporting them through hard times and feeling responsible for them – making sure the business was a success
 to provide their wages – was a huge learning curve. That experience taught me a lot.

What matters more, ambition or talent?

I think you need both to succeed and it probably depends on what you are doing but you definitely need talent. If someone said I was to be an opera singer, no matter how ambitious I was, I’d never get anywhere!

What advice would you give to your 30 year old self?

Love what you are doing. Follow your passion as that’s what you will strive in. Also, life is too short to spend it doing something you hate.

Who do you admire?

Etharin Cousin (executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme). Amazing lady.

In what place are you happiest?

Home – in Galloway, Scotland. I love it. I feel so free and creative. Also, everyone has time for each other. London is full of people thinking they are too busy for each other.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

Holidays. I love exploring and going to new places. But on a day to day basis – a lovely long bath. I pretty much have one everyday before bed, no matter how late!

How would you change government policy to help women in the workplace?

I’m not sure. I think women being encouraged by other women to strive and be ambitious is probably the best way to make change.

Do you believe in quotas?

Putting quotas in becomes tricky I think. I would hate to feel I had been given a position just to reach a set number or because they needed a women.

Describe yourself in three words.

Oh I don’t like this one. Impulsive, light-hearted and active?

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