Stepping Up and Stepping Out

by Jodi Kiang

Posted: 23 Jul 2019

I arrived at St Paul's Cathedral during the summer of 2017, having survived my first year in the working world after graduating with a degree in Philosophy and Theology from the University of Nottingham. While I was there I focused my studies on moral philosophy and ethics in the Hebrew Bible.

Even from a very young age, I have always had a strong sense of justice and what is right and wrong, driven by a desire to have a positive impact on the world around me. So, when I was looking for jobs I had three main criteria; I wanted a role where I could plan events, where I could learn and grow and, finally, where my work would make a difference.

As I applied for the role of Events Planner at St Paul's Institute and read more about the mission and heart behind the organisation, I was confident that this would be a place where I could do all these things. Never in a million years had I thought there might be a job where I could actually use my degree, but at the Institute I would be able to do that too - to consider questions of morality and ethics and how they relate to finance, business and the economy and think how these could work for the good of all.

Over the last two years we have worked hard to do this in lots of different ways:

And we have also been through a season of transition. We launched our Democracy and the Common Good series, attempting to respond to the division caused by recent events including Brexit and the 2016 US presidential election, broadening our mission. During this time we moved under the leadership of the Canon Pastor to help support us as we do this and as we speak into the Cathedral's social justice work. We also bid a fond farewell to Barbara Ridpath, the Institute's Director from 2014-2018. 

In the midst of all the change, I felt like I was called to be a constant. I spent the first 8 months working alongside Barbara, learning some of the history of the Institute and building on it, while also pushing forward with new initiatives trying to remain true to the heart of what we've been trying to do. I've worked hard to learn the ins and outs of Cathedral life and how all the various parts of the organisation work in step with one another and how the Institute fits in to the wider whole. And, I've tried my absolute best to keep the show on the road and make sure we were still visible and active, even as we searched for a new Director.

Almost two years to the day when I first walked through the Cathedral's doors, it's time to say goodbye. Because not only has the Institute been changing, but I've been changing too. In this time of transition I have had to step out of my comfort zone and step up my levels of responsibility. I've also had to work more independently and take more initiative in the day to day decision making. All of this has pushed me to grow, to develop my gifts and to really consider what the future holds in terms of my own career and development. I began pushing on some doors to see where they might lead, and one of those doors opened.

At the start of August, I will be starting a new role at Diabetes UK as the Individual Giving Manager for Legacies. This role will be helping to implement their marketing strategy and deliver their programme of events. Having worked in legacy giving before I started at the Institute, this role will bring together all my previous experience, while also giving me lots of new things to learn and ways to grow moving forward. It's going to be hard to leave and step away from something I have worked so hard to nurture for the last 16 months, but it's the right time to move on.

I think it would be fair to say that I've managed to cram a lot into the last two years (honestly, I've done so much it feels like I've been here so much longer!) With all the changes that have taken place, I'm aware that my time at the Institute hasn't always looked as I expected it would and it hasn't always been easy. But it has been worthwhile: I've been in a role where I could plan and project manage events, I have learnt and grown more than I could ever have imagined and I believe the work we have done has made a difference. So, going back to my criteria for a job - check, check and check again.

The best feeling for an Events Planner is that moment when your event is well underway and you're stood at the back of the room and able to see all your hard work right in front of your eyes.

I have never had this experience more acutely then during our 'Democracy and the Common Good: What do we Value' event in March 2018 with Harvard Philosophy Professor, Michael Sandel. There was a moment that I stood in the Nave of the Cathedral and exclaimed 'Wow, we actually managed to pull this off!'

Aged 24, under the iconic dome of St Paul's Cathedral, with 800 in the audience, 90 students on the stage, a world-class philosopher, BBC Radio 4 recording the whole thing, one book published and on sale and 3 months of eating, sleeping and breathing this project, it's safe to say that might just have been the most proud (and most exhausted!) I have ever felt.

But more importantly than all of those things, that night, we managed to bring together people from all walks of life, from different nations around the world, from different religious backgrounds, with very different points of view and life experiences and have an important conversation, to think beyond ourselves and to consider what is best for our communities and our society. And that's why St Paul's Institute matters. We have a unique platform and opportunity to point to a better way and to demonstrate the transformational love of God to a world that needs to know.

That is just one of many examples of 'wow' moments over the last two years; when I have been able to stand back and see just what St Paul's Institute has achieved. It has been an absolute pleasure to have been a part of it.

About this author

Jodi Kiang is the Events Planner for the St Paul's Institute


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of St Paul's Institute or St Paul's Cathedral.