Role Reflections from our newly appointed Director of Talent Programmes

Embarking on the Saltire Fellowship Programme in September 2018 must be one of my highlights. Taking 3 months out of the business to study, live and learn in the US was truly transformational.

"I still remember my interview day for the role of Programme Assistant at the Saltire Foundation. Arriving 25 minutes early I sat in the building foyer. Silent. Patiently waiting. Eventually, the interview candidate who preceded me, appeared from the interview room. Exchanging pleasantries before he turned to leave, I was sure he had the edge over me. Confident stride, smart suit - not that I wasn't smartly dressed of course - but still, the uncertainty crept in.

I had just come home from a year of backpacking in Australia where I was on a mission to 'find myself'. On my return to Scotland, I was surer than ever before, that a role in the third sector was the right path for me. I'd been aware of the Saltire Foundation for some time before applying to work for the organisation. I had applied to the Saltire Scholar programme while studying at Strathclyde University’s Business School. I had reached the final stage of the interview process but sadly, it wasn't to be: I wasn't fortunate enough to gain a summer internship. Before entering the interview room, I remember thinking to myself 'how unlucky would I be to be rejected twice?!'

Fortunately, that thought was fleeting and just a few days later I received the call. An offer of employment –fantastic! That was October 2013 – making me the second-longest serving team member at Entrepreneurial Scotland (ES), behind our CEO.

Over the last 6 years, I've been part of so many exciting projects, developed my career aspirations and have been responsible for leading key workstreams. Since beginning as a Programme Assistant, I've progressed to Programme Executive, Head of Programme and now Programme Director. I am so proud to be an example of the development opportunities which exist within Entrepreneurial Scotland and I can say truthfully, that the hard work has paid off and I've been able to make the most of each opportunity I've been given. I’ve been lucky to have the belief and support of so many people around me – I hope I provide an example to others about the amazing development opportunities which exist within the charitable sector.

In a role where you’re constantly working with people, you’re never too far away from the bizarre, and I’ve encountered a fair few perplexing situations over the years! One of the more prominent recollections being the time when one of our interns accidentally caught a flight to Costa Rica, instead of travelling to California where her host company was based. Fast forward 6,000 miles, 2 flights and 14 hours later, her feet landed safely in the correct territory!! That was a phone call I never imaged I’d receive!

Embarking on the Saltire Fellowship Programme in September 2018 must be one of my highlights. Taking 3 months out of the business to study, live and learn in the US was truly transformational. Working amongst some of the greatest minds I’ve ever met was a career-defining experience. The luxury of time and space allowed me to fully immerse myself in my surroundings. It meant I didn’t have one eye on the books and one eye on the day job. I returned to Scotland knowing I made the most of every opportunity I found in the US.

However, it's not always been smooth sailing and there have been difficulties along the way - that is where I've learnt the most. Exposure to high-impact work and getting first-hand insight into the challenges encountered by a scaling business (not least a scaling not-for-profit business) has helped me to adapt more quickly than had I joined a larger organisation. For that reason, I know I made the right decision about my career path. Joining a not-for-profit where my values are shared, and all employees are working towards the same goals, gives me personal pride and true job satisfaction.

It's often the case that third sector organisations rally the support of influential people around them, and I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to learn from and work with so many Entrepreneurial Scotland supporters since I joined the organisation. I’m in weekly communication with many of our senior stakeholders and consider a good number of them friends and mentor figures. Through the tough times, it’s gratifying to know there are so many people out there willing you to do well.

It’s an honour to be the first Entrepreneurial Scotland employee to fully rise through the ranks, and now in my role as Director of Talent Programmes, I’m more excited than ever for some of the projects on the horizon. It’s widely recognised that talent is a challenge for most businesses in Scotland – finding it, retaining it, valuing it. Entrepreneurial Scotland is uniquely placed to support businesses with this. In speaking to many employers across the country, it’s refreshing to know there is a paradigm shift taking place in the approach to talent. More focus is being placed on mindset and attitude, with employers stressing that they can train for the skills they require, but they can’t retrain a toxic attitude. It will be interesting to follow how this trend develops and how this impacts the popularity of different job roles and careers in the future.

This time next year, ES will have launched our talent matching programme and we’ll celebrate hosting our 1500th Saltire Scholar. Each day of work at Entrepreneurial Scotland involves matching talent to opportunity – we are connecting the dots all over the country and further afield and I am so proud to play a key role within that. I believe that most people who consider their career as a success would attribute a significant part of this to connections and the power of their networks. This is why I have excitement to come to work each day, knowing I might be making the next pivotal connection for one of our community. 

So - to that girl who sat in the foyer almost 6 years ago, thinking she wasn't good enough for an entry-level job. If only she knew what lay before her..."