Example of Culture Shape case study:

I rolled out a culture shape program at a Sussex Charity, that involved the following:

  • helping them identify a set of values that reflected their unique purpose and identity
  • working with them to break down the values into a set of attitudes, beliefs and behaviours 
  • working with a working group to assess what the culture was; what values were being outworked
  • introducing a set of processes, and ran events to outwork their values, embedding them
  • setting up a leadership development program to enable their leaders to shape a positive culture
  • evidencing how their new culture had progressed their mission.

The evidence that this culture shaping piece of work had progressed their mission is as follows:

  • 10 out of the 11 member of the management team had been promoted into their roles, demonstrating a culture of spotting potential, empowering and taking risks.
  • one project had turned its project around to making a loss to doubling its income in the last 12 months
  • another project demonstrated resilience and respect, maintaining key strategic relationships in the town, in the midst of tragic circumstances


The ‘blame culture’ has been replaced by a ‘lets address it together’ culture
— Steve Puttock, CEO, E&W YMCA


Example of strengths work:

I delivered 2 x 2 hour sessions with a Media Company. This involved the team doing the Gallup Strengths questionnaire, each team members analysing their strengths, how they use them in their role and bring value to the team. They then identified ways that each of them could support the others in building their respective strengths and working better together.

Vanessa’s Strength finders course really gave our whole team a greater understanding of each other and how to better relate and interact with each other. Vanessa brought great insight and her gentle approach really helped unlock a better understanding of how we are wired. The course also helped show the gaps within the team, we are going to use it as a tool for recruiting in the future
— J Jones, Director, Fruit Media

The overall result of embedding values, managing staff by their strengths, and encouraging staff to dream, has been a shift in culture. 

"During her time with the YMCA, Vanessa helped to develop the culture of a learning organisation where staff were valued and empowered to achieve their potential. Vanessa had a 'can do' approach, working closely with Managers to create a positive and supportive employment culture which was critical for the organisation's success.

Vanessa demonstrated high levels of integrity and professionalism, and worked closely with me as CEO to develop a positive and creative work place culture that helped us to retain and attract good staff, which in turn helped the organisation achieve good outcomes and attract new business. The organisation has continued to flourish and to prosper largely as a result of the foundational work undertaken by Vanessa in creating a culture that reflected the YMCA's person centred ethos.”

David Standing, former CEO of DLG (Downs Link Group) YMCA

 “It has been my privilege as CEO of Eastbourne & Wealden YMCA, to work alongside Vanessa O’Shea in reshaping & progressing our organisation to a place where we now have a strong coherent senior management team and a focused and empowered staff / volunteer team.  We now have a clear ethos & culture that enables us to make a real difference across a range of key services. 

Vanessa’s calm approach has given my staff team permission to ‘dream big’ for their own roles and also for the organisation, resulting in better self-motivation, improved morale and a wider willingness to ‘buy-in’ to the inevitable need to keep evolving and changing in order to meet the challenges in a world that presents us with constant financial and contractual trials. 

Vanessa’s commitment, energy & ability to ‘look outside of the box’ that we so often place staff in, has directly resulted in E&W YMCA being more sustainable, growing its reputation among both service users and stakeholders and her vision for what both the charity & individuals within it might become, has contributed directly to achieving our strategic aims."

Steve Puttock, CEO of E&W YMCA