Clara Widdison - Mountbatten Program

Clara Widdison

Clara Widdison

A Day In The Life

Program: New York

Intake: March 2012

Current Role: Mission Manager of the Healthy Life Mission at Nesta, and co-founder of a recipe box company, Dish Up!


Current Role: I work as Mission Manager of the Healthy Life Mission at Nesta, a non-profit social innovation agency based in London.

Outside of this role, I co-founded a recipe box company, Dish Up!, which works with councils across England to deliver nutritious, fun and dignified recipe boxes to children and their families who are at risk of food insecurity. I don’t think this will surprise the friends I met in New York, for whom I would often cook.

In my free time, I’m a Trustee at the KFC Foundation, which supports young people with access to support and opportunity across the country.

My Alarm Goes off: In an ideal week, at 7:30am, but my six year old and our small cat are earlier risers. Most mornings are spent negotiating an extra 20 minutes sleep in return for playing games on my phone. If they’re not around, I’d happily sleep till 9am!

I’m Responsible for …an ambitious portfolio of projects that seek to redesign the food system using a combination of innovation methods such as design and data science. I love my job – I spend a lot of time working across different sectors with interesting people to understand what changes would make people’s lives healthier and happier, and then pulling together a plan to make it happen.

I Got The Job …You’d have to ask my boss but I suspect it’s because, having worked at the Association of Executive Search Consultants in New York, I’m a strong interviewee. I consider it one of the best skills I learned over the year in New York.

My Typical Day …always ends in cooking at home. It’s one of the few things that unwinds me unless I’m creating new recipes for the recipe boxes – that can be stressful when I lose track of what I put in the best version of the recipe.

The Culture Of My Workplace …is risk-hungry and fast-moving, whilst being thoughtful and rigorous. Nesta is fortunate to be an endowed charity, which means we can focus on changing the world for the better. I’m consistently in awe of the people around me, who balance being fantastically accomplished with being kind and humble.

My Most Memorable Work Moment… was being awarded a Big Issue Top Changemaker award in 2020. That recognition of my work remains motivating to me even on the longest days.

My Role Model …is my mum. She arrived in the UK in her early twenties, with English as a second language, and took A Levels in evening classes whilst working in a medical lab. She was driven to help people as best she could, and dedicated her life to the NHS as a Doctor.

The Most Challenging Part of My Job …is working in an interdisciplinary team where everyone speaks a different professional language. I often have to ask my colleagues to explain things to me as they would a five year old! Fortunately, they’re very patient with me.

The Best Part of My Job… I am about to leave the UK for a three week sabbatical in Amsterdam, funded by the Churchill Fellowship, which I’m excited by. The Churchill Fellowship funds UK residents to travel all over the world looking at international solutions to challenging societal issues and bringing them back to benefit the UK.

After Work …If I’m not doing the school run, I might be at an improv class, book club or running club. Anything that involves silliness, wine and meeting new people.

Plan B …If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be an interior designer, although my home design splits the opinions of my friends, so I don’t know how well I’d do!