About Us

Smart Works Birmingham opened in August 2016 to support unemployed women in the region through the Smart Works dressing and interview coaching service.

“The first few weeks as Chairwoman  of Smart Works has been focussed on helping the charity move to better located premises at the BVSC building in Digbeth, just below Selfridges, providing a central location that enables our referrals and volunteers easier access to our services.  Continuing the good work that has gone before by the team that set up the Birmingham Office places us in a great position to move forward with a view to increasing the number of women that will benefit from our valuable service. “

Philippa Pickavance - Current Chairwoman of Smart Works Birmingham

We give our clients a complete outfit of clothes and accessories (theirs to keep) and we provide one-to-one preparation training so they feel more confident and start believing in their own ability to succeed.

The two hours our clients spend with us can be transformative.

All of our Smart Works service delivery is provided by a team of highly skilled, fully trained volunteers and all our stock is donated through other working women or comes direct from our retail partners such as Hobbs, Whistles and Evans.

Introducing the team behind Smart Works Birmingham

  • Philippa Pickavance

    Philippa Pickavance became Chairwoman and a Trustee of Smart Works Birmingham in July 2018.

    She  has run her own Commercial property agency firm, Philippa Pickavance Real Estate as a sole trader for the last 5 years and specialises in acquiring, letting and selling office buildings and thus was well placed to negotiate good terms for Smart Works’ new lease. She has worked in Birmingham City Centre for over 35 years, where she was previously a Partner or Director at larger Commercial property firms. She spent 17 years with King Sturge (now merged with JLL) and also headed the commercial agency team at Drivers Jonas before they merged with accountancy firm Deloitte. Her aim is to use her business contacts to secure funds for Smart Works Birmingham so that the employees and volunteers can concentrate on providing a first class service for our clients.  She also has experience in charity fundraising, events organisation, marketing and PR and was previously a Trustee of Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

  • Ruth Paulin

    Ruth has had a 35 year career as a senior manager in healthcare. She has supported and developed many individuals to fulfil their potential during this time through mentoring and coaching. Ruth brings her operational and people skills and experience to Smart Works Birmingham as our Treasurer and Trustee.

  • Caroline Wilkie

    Caroline has run her own IT Consultancy business for over 25 years, managing projects and helping blue-chip and public sector clients with IT strategy, business change and transformation.  She has always been passionate about increasing the numbers of women working in IT and is part of BCS Women, which provides mentoring and coaching for women in the Computer Industry.  She has also been active in her local community for many years, leading fundraising that successfully provided EU funding to create a new Community Orchard and is a Parish Councillor.  We are pleased to have her on board as a Trustee.

  • Jilly Cosgrove

    Jilly founded Barques, a design, marketing and pr agency, back in 1989.  With 30 years experience in the industry she is well known in the city.  She is Chairman of the charity Property for Kids, and organises a number of fundraising events throughout the year for other charities.  She is an Ambassador for the RBSA, a Director of the Jewellery Quarter Association, sits on the board of Openland and has now become a Trustee for Smart Works Birmingham.

  • Victoria Camfield

    Victoria is a partner at global law firm Squire Patton Boggs where she specialises in commercial property work, advising landlords, tenants, investors and developers; her first job as a new Trustee was to help Philippa on the legal aspects of the relocation of Smart Works Birmingham to Digbeth!  As an active member of the Birmingham business community where she has worked for over 20 years, Victoria is delighted to have joined Smart Works Birmingham as a Trustee and will be bringing her legal skills to the role of Company Secretary.

  • Julia Regis

    Julia is an award-winning West Midlands businesswoman, who has a long and successful track record in empowering women to help them reach their potential. She has more than 25 years’ experience in delivering training for both individuals and companies and is invited to speak regularly at international events. She will work with the volunteer trainers and staff to ensure they maintain their skill levels in advising the women who use the service as they prepare for job interviews.

    Julia is also chair of the Cyrille Regis Legacy Trust, a charity set up following the death of her pioneering football husband Cyrille Regis, as well as an Ambassador for the international charity Wateraid, which improves access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the poorest communities around the globe.

  • Ann Powell

    Ann became joint Centre Manager of Smart Works Birmingham in 2018 having previously volunteered at Smart Works Birmingham as an Interview Coach. She has a background in Retail and Hospitality Management and Human Resources.  For the past ten years she has also practiced as a Business and Life Coach.

    Ann & Joanne are responsible for managing our Core Service, working closely with clients and referral partners. The outreach across the wider West Midlands area is divided with Ann taking the lead in Solihull and Coventry and Joanne in Wolverhampton and The Black Country. Their roles also include managing the volunteer team, maintaining stock levels, fundraising and developing and maintaining key partnerships.


  • Joanne Penn-Crossland

    Joanne – Joint Manager of Smart Works has been with Smart Works Birmingham since it launched in 2016. She has a background in the arts and project management having previously managed programmes for children and young people.  When she returned from maternity leave last year both Ann & Joanne became Joint Managers working together to deliver the services to our clients.  Joanne also looks after our Social Media.