Meet IPSE's new Chair

With more women embarking on freelance careers than men – and the number of highly skilled professional freelancers growing faster than any other group – Caroline Morgan is truly a Chair for the times. We sat down with her to find out why. 

Can you give me a brief overview of your self-employed background?

I have been working independently for more than 20 years.  I have worked across the public and private sector with both large and small organisations. I started out in IT writing code and now provide consultancy as a business analyst, project manager and business change on long running strategic transformation programmes. That means I help businesses understand their problems, big and small, and with them work out how to fix them and move their businesses forward.

What motivated you/encouraged you to being as a self-employed professional?

I fell into contracting and then never saw a reason to get out of it. After working as an employee for some blue-chip companies I decided I wanted to work overseas and spend a couple of years working in Australia and New Zealand.  When I returned to the UK a former colleague told me British Airways needed someone with my skills on a contract basis for a few months, so that seemed like a good option while I sorted out what I wanted to do next. The next turned into a freelance career!

What kept you in self-employment?

The relationship with my first client continued for seven years. I gave them with the skills and expertise they needed, and they gave me the flexibility to work around having three children. I’ve had no difficulty getting work and so have never felt the need to become an employee.  I enjoy working for many different clients in different sectors with different problems. It has sometimes been difficult negotiating the flexibility and part-time hours I wanted to ensure I could spend time with my family, but overall it has worked out well.

I hadn’t personally considered contracting before my first engagement, but my husband had been contracting for a number of years when we met so I was aware that it was a viable way to make a living! What’s unusual I suppose is that we’ve both been working for ourselves, generally independently of each other but occasionally as a team on the same piece of work, for most of our careers. 

What are your priorities as incoming Chair of IPSE?

My main priority will be to make sure IPSE continues to grow its influence and membership by high-lighting the positive aspects of self-employment and the benefits it brings to the economy.

There is a lot of discussion in the media and from government now about what ‘good work’ looks like, but there’s little discussion about what ‘good self-employment’ is. We need to change this narrative, so that the flexible labour market which the UK relies upon is celebrated and nurtured. This includes shining a light on the members of our society who might not be in work if it wasn’t for self-employment. This includes people who want flexibility to fit their work around caring for children and elderly relatives, and for those starting a career in later life.

IPSE plays a vitally important role as the voice of freelancers and the self-employed, and I won’t shirk from taking their views directly to government, especially on issues which are destabilising confidence in the sector such as the off-payroll tax proposals and the uncertainty over Brexit. 

What message do you want to send to people considering self-employment?

It sometimes feels like a difficult decision to move out of the comfort of being an employee but with careful planning and support, through organisations like IPSE, working for yourself can give you a rewarding career doing something you love with the flexibility you need.