Blog: JP Hamilton – Good Business is Personal.


This live blog was written by Adam Tinworth at Like Minds, Exeter 2012.

JP Hamilton, Head of Social Investment, Virgin Media.

How can you leverage the power of big corporate to make a difference?

His job has really unlocked the passion in him. 86% of consumers believe it is important that companies stand for something. How?

  • Be authentic – live to the brand values of your company
  • Reflect your products, services and objectives – if it’s not commercial, it’s not sustainable
  • Galvanise people – only a couple are needed to make a difference. Social media can magnify their efforts
  • Secure board support – to get the space to grow.

Virgin Media Pioneers is a community of 2,000 people that provides inspiration, support and opportunities, and they do that by leveraging the digital strength of the company. They’re supporting business, and so they’re supporting the economy and the country.

How did they get started? They had an innovative video blogging platform – driven by broadband. They wanted to engage their staff, and the board were on side from the start.

They gave people who couldn’t otherwise go online free stuff to allow them to do so. But free stuff doesn’t automatically mean engagement. Video blogging was harder for most people than they expected. So they had to get people out there, engaging with the members face to face.

They added sparkle to the campaign by bringing Richard Branson into it. It brought down the servers…

18 people in five teams to create a converged product idea. The winning idea was taken into the company – and was one participant as a paid employee. The mobile director is keen to see another one.

They’re working with the network to figure out how to upport their young entrepreneurs better: “It’s easier to get a loan to study business than to start a business”, said one – a major revelation moment. And they have solutions.

The Project – giving 100 young people paid work and a qualification at the end of it. It’s up to them what they create. 1,500 applications, great PR, Government approval – and great for the youngsters. They’ll post the people’s journeys online, and bring that experience to many more young people.

Their ambition is to reach out to 1 million people. They want to move beyond entrepreneurship to inspire people with those entrepreneurs, perhaps to create more, perhaps to enter a new career.

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