Meet Ankita Saxena, Manager in the Government + Enterprise team
What do you do at Social Finance?
I’m part of the Government + Enterprise team. We work with local and central government, charities, and funders such as big financial institutions or private organisations. Our job is to provide advice to partners across sectors including housing, employment and young people. Although we have a different range of clients, the goal is always the same: how to solve tough social issues.
How did you get into this kind of work?
I come from a consulting background — I was a strategy consultant — but I was working in some really niche areas for private clients, interviewing experts who were just paid to talk to me. I wanted to do something more public-facing and came across a job posting for Social Finance on LinkedIn. It combined all my different interests and skills, and also felt a lot more purposeful and a place where I could learn. Now, I’m talking to people at the top of their organisation who are committed to change — they want to share their ideas with us and not because they’re getting paid!
Speaking of skills, which ones do you use most often?
A lot of my day is spent on primary research, interviewing experts, funders or people from think tanks, or doing secondary research: reading reports and papers about social issues. There’s a lot of evidence gathering, then I collate all that information which may then become a scoping paper.
I’m currently working on a project that’s a great example of what I do in my role. We’re working with a large financial institution who wanted to get involved in the housing space. They want to help solve the problem of ‘bad’ landlords and find out what they could do to develop any regulations. It’s unusual for us to work directly with a private sector client, but we’re always open to where we can have the greatest impact.
I’m a big advocate for people doing things beyond their job, as it brings a new perspective to whatever you’re working on — and that’s something Social Finance supports.
So, I did lots of interviews with charities like Crisis and Shelter, big lenders and funders, landlord organisations and tenants’ rights groups. We looked at what regulations already exist for landlords and what needs to change from a policy perspective. Then we looked at what our client could do to help regulate and influence change in the housing sector. All that information will now go into our recommendations on how they could have a meaningful impact.
It was a really interesting project, as it was completely blank-page thinking, and I learned so much about different issues. It’s not a skill as such, but you do need to be intrinsically curious to do this job.
Another important part of my job is providing support and guidance directly to several local areas to help them tackle multiple disadvantages — something really distinctive that you can only do somewhere like Social Finance.
What’s the best thing about your job?
It’s great knowing your work will have an impact, but you don’t often see immediate results. Luckily, we get a lot of small ‘wins’ in this job, like delivering some training that changes someone’s perspective. The big successes may take longer, so I look for the daily satisfactions.
Social Finance is also a really interesting organisation, with many different areas you can work in. You can establish a niche within the organisation, but then carry that knowledge and your skills into various projects.
If you weren’t working for Social Finance, what would you be doing?
I’m a poet, so I write and perform in the evenings. Writing is like being a social interpreter, translating what’s happening around you. I think it’s fascinating how different areas of your life interconnect: I was performing at Newham C ouncil recently and realised we’d just been working with them! I’m a big advocate for people doing things beyond their job, as it brings a new perspective to whatever you’re working on — and that’s something Social Finance supports.