How Pilotlight helped one operations and logistics leader give back to Scotland
I’ve spent over 25 years working in the corporate arena in a variety of large operational and logistical roles. At board level for the past ten years, my work has become more and more strategic and can result in being removed from the people on the ground. I’d been thinking about how I might give something back to my local community for a while, although I didn’t know what that would look like. When I came across Pilotlight it clicked with me instantly. I signed up to work with local Scottish-based charities straight away.
My first project was coaching and supporting the CEO of Adventure Centre for Education (ACE), an organisation that harnesses the power of adventure sports to broaden the visions and aspirations of young people living in Girvan, south-west of Scotland. The charity was looking to strengthen its financial structure, refresh its organisational design and start succession planning. As part of a team of three senior business professionals from a range of sectors, we coached the charity CEO in the strategic skills needed to review the operation for the longer-term. As part of the process, I also visited the charity’s offices and met the young people that ACE serve to hear stories of their experiences. It was hugely gratifying to get close to the people serviced by the charity and to know that my business skills were helping make the charity more sustainable for them. I learned a lot about myself as well as the charity sector, so I signed up for another year and more projects.
I’ve been a member of Pilotlight for three years now. As well as ACE, I’ve worked with Glasgow Bike Shed on reviewing its current business model and planning for future growth, and have supported Big Hearts Community Trust to develop its capacity for strategic thought. Using my business skills to strengthen local, Scottish charities has been incredibly rewarding and a massive learning experience. When I first joined, as well as giving back, I wanted to develop my own skills and learn how to perform as a non-executive director. Pilotlight has most certainly helped with that too. The process has challenged me to stand back and give advice, rather than just direct people to the solutions I think will work best. It’s also highlighted the importance of listening, and I’ve definitely improved my skills in that area. I now place more value on taking the time to truly understand and reflect on issues before jumping into ‘solutions mode’, as I’ve learnt that this is actually how you will make the greatest impact. Through being a member of Pilotlight I’ve also gained the experience I needed to be able to seriously consider other charity roles such as Trustee and Chairman and I’m actively looking for other board positions so I can contribute more. I’m looking forward to the new challenges and skills I’ll be learning on future projects. Giving back to Scotland feels great - I would recommend Pilotlight in a heartbeat!