Good Leaders Podcast Episode 3 – Alice Williams: ‘Everything I've learned has been on the job’

At Pioneers Post, we’re interested in a specific kind of leader: those who are both trying to make a difference and doing business differently. In our Good Leaders podcast, founding editor Tim West meets some of the best and brightest of social enterprise, impact investing and mission-driven business for a series of candid conversations – expect to be surprised. This month: Alice Williams of the award-winning Luminary Bakery.

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Alice Williams, co-founder and CEO of award-winning social enterprise Luminary Bakery, didn’t set out  to run a company: she just wanted to help women. 

SE100 award-winning Luminary Bakery makes sweet baked goods to create job opportunities for women who have experienced gender-based violence and multiple disadvantages. Over the past 10 years, it has supported 155 women with training and employment.

Baking was not the purpose of starting Luminary when it was created: the co-founders wanted to give women facing extreme poverty, disadvantage and violence an opportunity to build a future for themselves. Baking fitted the bill for such a mission: one can learn it at any age and no specific qualification is needed to become a professional baker, making it a great skill to learn to start afresh – and it’s also a way of building a community.

Leading a social enterprise has been a huge learning curve

Luminary Bakery started with a handful of women baking cakes in church halls; now it has two cafes in London and supports dozens of women. And just a few weeks ago, Williams received an MBE for services to women and charity.

But she admits having a bit of imposter syndrome.

She says: “Leading a social enterprise has been a huge learning curve, particularly because I don't have a business degree, I haven't been a CEO of another company… I'm quite aware that everything I've really learned at Luminary has been on the job.”

She talks about the highs and lows of being a social business leader – from seeing the results of your impact, to financial struggles and having to let staff go.


Podcast produced and edited by Laura Joffre.

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