Lydia Hascott is Head of Intrapreneurship at the London-based Finance Innovation Lab. There she leads a programme to align UK bank financing with the just transition to a zero-carbon economy. Lydia developed and facilitated the University of Auckland’s corporate innovation programme “Solve It” and she was one of the first employees of the Australian-based Club Kidpreneur Foundation.
Some people have an unquenchable thirst for learning. Lydia Hascott is one of them.
“I pretty much loved every subject at school, I was part of everything that was happening and I have always enjoyed exploring my deep sense of curiosity about the world and how we can contribute to improve it,” she says.
At university Lydia enrolled in a conjoint BA/BCom degree with an arts major in sociology. It gave her an interdisciplinary perspective that she attributes to shaping her career at the intersection of business and social impact.
It was also 2008. The Global Financial Crisis was at its peak and the world was awash with uncertainty and fear about what the future held.
Amidst that uncertainty Lydia says one particular lecturer, Ross McDonald, stood out for his thought-provoking lectures.
“I remember thinking, how did they let this guy into the business school? There were no exams and the only thing pre-planned about the curriculum was that we follow our curiosity. During his MGMT231 paper I learned there were consumerism-powered plastic gyres swirling in the ocean, that it was possible to measure the wealth of a country in happiness and that our economic system is predicated on never-ending growth using finite natural resources.”
The course got Lydia thinking about her future career and how she might align a series of disparate interests. Stumbling on social enterprise, she realised she could use not-for-profit business principles to generate positive outcomes for people and planet.
Her first role was with the Club Kidpreneur Foundation, a nationwide Australian entrepreneurship education programme for primary schools, scaling it to 10,000 students who raised $350,000 for charity in two years.
“They say the best way to learn something is to teach it to a ten-year-old,” says Lydia. “As one of the first employees of a rapidly growing social enterprise I got to try my hand at the full spread of business functions, from sales to procurement to operations, while designing a programme that teaches kids to do the same. Those kids showed me how business can and must be used as a force for good in the world.”
This led to work with Australian startup incubator, Investible, designing and delivering accelerator programmes for tech startups, including through the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in South Africa. She also studied for a Graduate Certificate in Social Impact through the University of New South Wales.
Returning to work with her alma mater, Lydia developed and facilitated “Solve It” - a corporate innovation programme run by the University of Auckland’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Participating students developed solutions to challenges posed by large New Zealand businesses, with several students receiving offers of employment as a result.
Lydia then moved to London and became fascinated by how transforming the way money works might address the root causes of many social and environmental problems.
As Head of Intrapreneurship at Finance Innovation Lab she now leads a programme to align UK bank financing with the just transition to a zero-carbon economy through supporting banking intrapreneurs to transform financial institutions from within.
One quote that has always inspired Lydia comes from indigenous Australian artist Lilla Watson: “If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
“If I have a big goal, “ Lydia says, “it’s to use my career to partner with others in actively deconstructing the barriers to a more inclusive, just and sustainable world.”