Compose the future of Finding Rhythms and change the lives of prisoners

Published: 21 Jul 2016 By Jennifer Jackson

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Finding Rhythms is the UK’s leading prison music charity. It was founded by Emily Vermont and Robin Harris in 2013 with their passionate vision to reduce reoffending by engaging prisoners with music. They are now looking for a business director with the vision and ability to see the charity through the next stage in its expansion.

Do you have the imagination and entrepreneurial spirit to take the charity in a new direction? We spoke to Emily Vermont, co-founder and executive director of Finding Rhythms, to find out more about this rare opportunity to be part of their growth journey and what it takes to make a success of the business director role.

Emily Vermont

Emily Vermont, co-founder and executive director of Finding Rhythms


Tell us about Finding Rhythms and the work you do

We run intensive 36-hour music courses in prisons which result in a BTEC certificate in employability skills. Led by top touring artists, every project results in a professionally produced album of music. The courses give prisoners an opportunity to gain valuable work experience and develop skills that are transferrable to work and life, reducing their chances of reoffending when they are released. They learn to work in a professional and intensive environment, collaborate with team members from different cultures and backgrounds and learn about respect and the power of commitment. Through this period of intervention we trigger a process of long-term behavioural change, which is key to the transition to a crime-free life.


Video: Finding Rhythms believes that music has the power to transform lives


What is involved in the typical day of a business director at Finding Rhythms?

The business director is responsible for everything behind the scenes to keep the charity going and growing. We have a team of around 30 musicians and engineers who work inside the prisons - everything else is down to the role of the business director. This includes fundraising, business development, managing the website, overseeing the accounts and budget strategy and day-to-day administration. You will also be expected to speak at public events about the charity and organise events which are great fun given the access we have to so many talented musicians. One of your first tasks will be to work with trustees to devise a strong development strategy for the next three to five years.

What kind of person are you looking for?

As a startup, we need someone with an entrepreneurial mindset and someone with the drive to try new things without the fear of failure. You will be forging a new path so you will make some mistakes along the way and learn from them. You need the confidence to be able to speak publicly about the charity and you need the resilience to dust yourself off from knock-backs. You also need the imagination to take the charity in a new direction, think outside the box and be ambitious on the charity’s behalf, leaving your ego behind. 

Why would someone want to do this role?

This is a rare opportunity to be part of the growth journey of a dynamic new prison music charity. The best is yet to come and the business director will steer us through our growth plans. There is also room for growth personally. The starting salary is £35k, however, the role and salary will grow with the charity and the responsibilities will broaden. If you are thinking of changing careers, have solid managerial experience and are willing to take on a greater challenge, this could be just the career break you are looking for. You will have the autonomy to make each day your own and manage your role as you see fit to a great extent.

What exciting initiatives are you working on?

We have started to explore opportunities to work outside of prisons after prisoners have been released. We plan to launch a programme of musical mentoring whereby we would have regular meetings with the ex-prisoners and involve them in musical concerts. We created music videos last year with an ex-prisoner and this is something we plan to roll out as part of an official programme to offer continued support for prisoners after they have been released. This is a highly rewarding initiative that the business director will have a leading role in developing further.


Finding rhythms music session

Finding Rhythms runs music courses in prisons


What challenges might the business director face in the role?

As in any small organisation, you will need to be able to juggle a variety of tasks - some more glamorous than others! Whilst you can be flexible with your working hours and role you will need to be highly self-motivated to stay on top of everything as you will be left to your own devices on a day-to-day basis.

What opportunities for development are there?

It will be down to you to identify your own needs and opportunities for training and development and we we can support you within our budget. We have recently seen a very positive appetite from government and the music industry for our music courses in prisons, so there is a huge opportunity to forge a fruitful career path that is likely to grow immensely.

What do you think makes a strong business director in an organisation like yours?

You need to have strong leadership skills with the flexibility to take a back seat when necessary. You will be working closely with Robin Harris, our creative director who is also our co-founder, so you will need to be prepared to share the leadership role, listen to each other and be a facilitator of our vision. The ideal candidate will have a broad skillset or at least be willing to develop one. You should be used to seeing the long-term vision and potential of an organisation at the same time as carrying out everyday tasks effectively.

What tips would you offer applicants for the role?

It will be essential to demonstrate a track record of fundraising success as you will need to hit the ground running on the fundraising front. Use your cover letter to indicate how you might develop Finding Rhythms and give us a flavour of your thought process. Make sure you thoroughly research us, our website and show you’re in line with our vision and that you share our passion.

Sum up what it’s like to work at Finding Rhythms

Rewarding - you get out almost more than you put in and you see direct results of your hard work. Exhilarating - you can achieve incredible results and see the impact our work has on prisoners, especially when you receive thank you letters on how we have changed their lives!

To find out more about Finding Rhythms visit:


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