Frances Atkins

Co-Founder, Director givvable, AGSM MBA (Executive) 2020

Frances Atkins headshot
"The number of connections to business, and investors I’ve made through my AGSM MBA is extraordinary. Such access just doesn't exist anywhere else."

Frances Atkins
Co-Founder, Director
AGSM MBA (Executive) 2020

Giving buying power a higher power

Frances Atkins’ start-up, givvable, is a technology platform focussed on sustainability. 

Frances co-founded givvable with her sister Naomi Vowels to make it easier for corporations to justify buying sustainable, responsibly made products by tracking and revealing the positive impact of their actions. 

The givvable platform works by letting any organisation validate the sustainability credentials, attributes and initiatives of suppliers and trading partners - and see what third party validated actions, initiatives and commitments they’re making. 

In turn, suppliers can register on the platform for free. givvable automatically recognises any third-party credentials they have, or they can self-register. These businesses gain access to tools and learning that boost their visibility to business customers who want to work with suppliers aligned to their own sustainability goals.

Using givvable thus allows organisations to validate their own stated sustainability credentials to their customers, investors and community.

"There’s a big difference between hoping and knowing your purchasing decisions are doing good."

Purchases can be anything from services to building materials, vehicles and stationery to the ingredients on a restaurant menu or their takeaway containers.

"Using data to prove their actions work is very motivating for any business or organisation."

Scaling positive impact with an AGSM MBA

givvable is a vast project by any measure. Frances attributes much of her ability to see and manage givvable’s big picture to the skills and confidence gained in her AGSM MBA (Executive) program.

The synergy of ensuring corporate money is being spent in a way that contributes to solving diverse challenges such as global warming and pollution might seem obvious.

For example, buying a recycled packaging product that costs the same as one made of unrecycled material. Yet, Frances soon realised achieving this goal would be a complex process involving countless stakeholders.

Frances was drawn to the AGSM MBA as a means to assemble all the skills she’d need within a holistic degree – reconciling strategy, legal, finance, accounting, marketing, business and product development.

"I see myself as 'Chief Generalist' - I can do just enough of most things to build a business from the ground up with limited resources."

Finding her voice to power her vocation

Frances says she found her entrepreneurial voice at AGSM and gained the confidence to be the face of a start-up.

"You really can't sit in the background in a start-up, especially your own! You have to put yourself forward and be the voice of your own vision."

She emerged ready to bring a considered view to any challenge, feeling more rounded, and free of blind spots in unexpected areas like self-awareness and collaboration.

"Doing the AGSM MBA transformed the way I think."

Changing to create change

Frances says the skills and confidence she gained from her AGSM MBA helped her to rethink and recalibrate solutions when faced with serious roadblocks. 

"Founding a start-up is hectic. You assume many roles at all levels, piecing technology and a business model together to address the customer problem and need. All while trying to create an easy-to-use solution."

Frances is very clear it was the content and flexibility of the AGSM MBA Executive Program that made the whole journey possible. A journey that encompassed several pivots and being the mother of three children. 

Helping transform intention to action

Completing the real-world challenges in her MBA curriculum taught Frances how to navigate big, complex organisations, reach the decision-makers and empower them make better decisions for all. 

"We believe that by tracking the impact of good spending, we encourage more of it."

And with the business world setting itself bold new sustainability goals, she says the will is increasingly there …with givvable providing the way.

Greater collaboration for the greater good

Frances says gaining a network of alumni is one of the most valuable benefits of an AGSM MBA.

She sees having a direct line to leading sustainability researchers, corporate decision makers and new mentors as invaluable to realising her aspirations.

"The number of connections to business, and investors I’ve made through my AGSM MBA is extraordinary. Such access just doesn't exist anywhere else."

It’s a network she’s constantly contributing to and extending as givvable grows.

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