After two years as Chief of Staff at Sellafield, Emma-Jayne Gooch has left to set up her own business. Nuclear correspondent Bridget Dempsey finds out more

Independent, strong, intelligent are just some of the words that may be used to describe Emma-Jayne Gooch. The former Sellafield Chief of Staff left her post last year, with many asking why anyone would leave such a prestigious position in the nuclear industry. For Emma- Jayne it was to set up Plain Purpose Ltd, which aims to inspire both businesses and individuals to analyse themselves to find their purpose and achieve their greater goals.

Emma-Jayne first came up to Cumbria in 2008 relocating to the county with her two young daughters and ‘everything she could fit into her Ford Fiesta’ after she says she found out her husband was having an affair. Her first few months in the county were admittedly a difficult time for the then recruitment consultant but one which set her in good stead to be the woman she is today.

Emma-Jayne says: “I came up to Cumbria 15 years ago in June, basically I had two young children and I had moved to Wiltshire with my husband and was working part time and being a mum to my kids.

“I found out my husband was having an affair, it was obviously out of the blue. I was absolutely devastated. My mum and dad had moved up to Cumbria that year, so I decided to move up to Cumbria because in Wiltshire I had absolutely no support network at all. I packed everything that I could and came here. There was no money in the bank accounts and I literally found myself fourteen years ago, homeless and wondering what I was going to do.

“My world had just broken, I had suddenly become a single mum, I didn’t even have a penny in the bank and I was just thinking 'what do I do?'”

Emma was loaned some money by her nan to rent a home and got a job in recruitment in the county. After a while she was approached by another organisation to set up a nuclear division, which she did before deciding to become self employed in the recruitment industry.

She also joined the management team at the Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster (BECBC) and was ‘taken under the wing’ of many people in the organisation as she set herself up as a consultant.

Emma-Jayne ran NuExec for a number of years and started writing a blog about doing business in Cumbria's nuclear industry - especially looking at the difficulties SME business and the supply chain face.

After a successful few years writing the blog which attracted around 6,000 readers and running NuExec, Emma-Jayne met Martin Chown who had just been appointed Supply Chain Director at Sellafield Ltd.

“We sat down to start talking and it was one of those instances where you just get someone straight away, we kind of had that energy between us because we wanted the same things, we believed in the same things, we had the same principles and drivers,” she says.

A year after their meeting Emma-Jayne decided to close her business and join Martin Chown's team, heading up Supply Chain Development and Innovation.

When Martin was appointed CEO at the site, Emma-Jayne moved with him as his Chief of Staff and stayed in the position for more than two years, delivering some major changes including one of her proudest achievements, the Sellafield Manifesto, which created a network of ‘change makers’ across the site.

Last year after delivering the Sellafield manifesto, which was awarded a ‘strength’ from WANO (World Association of Nuclear Operations), Emma- Jayne decided to make the jump into setting up her own business. She says: “It was the strangest thing,

when I left Sellafield I was so sad and gutted to be leaving but it was my choice.

“For me you should always leave a company firstly when you have just delivered something amazing and secondly when you still care enough that you are upset you’re going. If you haven’t got those two things then you have left it too long.”

Since starting the business in November, Emma has picked up several clients and has been in talks with doing some international work. She describes Plain Purpose Ltd as a vehicle for companies to have ‘straight talking, honest conversations to help organisations understand why they exist, and why anyone should care’ as well as helping organisations understand and address any cultural issues.

She says: “It (her business) can help the company focus by understanding why they exist. It gives them a North Star. This then directs business decisions with a focus on growth, strategy, what type of work they want to do, where they want to put their money and their time, because without the clear focus on their ‘North Star’, quite often there’s a scatte gun approach and they’re not as focused as they need to be.

“Companies with a strong purpose are more resilient because their customers see their purpose and will connect with it. You will find that customers are more loyal to a company with a strong purpose.

“Also, by having a strong purpose your employees will emotionally connect to why they come to work every day and understand the contribution they are making. It means you will have a higher retention rate and that you will get better productivity, because people come to work because they want to come to work, they come to work because they are doing something bigger than themselves and the company. They are leaving a legacy. At a time when recruitment is hard a strong purpose will increase attraction to your organisation as a lot of people look at what a company’s values and purposes are over anything else.

“I also offer ‘facilitation’. Any company can benefit from facilitation, when it comes to a meeting, often if the person running a meeting has a vested interest, they will only hear what they want to hear that backs up the thoughts and ideas that they have. Having someone impartial there means that every single person is heard.

“Also, if you’ve got a problem with a client and you are struggling, often bringing someone impartial in can really help.

“After a number of requests, I am also really excited that in January I added another service to the portfolio and that is Personal Purpose Discovery. At some point in your career you may well find yourself feeling a little lost at work, you may feel that you don’t really know what you want to do when you grow up even at 40 plus. You could be a leader or entrepreneur wanting to get a better connection with those you lead by understanding what it is that you strive for and what makes you get out of bed in the morning.”

“There is so much that Cumbrian companies and individuals can benefit from but also companies further afield and even internationally - it really can be that beneficial.”