After ten years as City Strategy and Economy Manager at the City of Edinburgh Council, Lesley set up her own consultancy in 2017 and is also studying toward a Professional Doctorate in Business Administration and Management. Lesley is currently working on her second Pilotlight project.
What is your greatest professional achievement?
That’s hard to say, but if I had to choose one, it would be producing ‘A Strategy for Jobs – Edinburgh’s economic strategy 2012-17’, a game changer for the Council and its partners. It was a first for me and for the Council. It developed my skills and knowledge in unfamiliar territory and it gave me a great opportunity to develop the team.
What does success mean to you?
Success for me comes in three dimensions: it’s the feeling of accomplishment I get through achieving what I set out to and delivering work of my best quality; it’s having a positive impact on people who have not had the advantages in life that I have had; and it’s overcoming difficulties and finding new ways to get things done.
Who’s most influenced you in your career and why?
Well, there are just too many people to mention here! I’d say my first and greatest influence was my father, who was a powerful and supportive influence in my life. He emphasised learning, determination, a sense of purpose and career progression.
There have also been mentors, managers and career influencers (I won’t embarrass them by name checking them here), they know who they are!
Why did you become a Pilotlighter?
I became a Pilotlighter at a time of great change in other parts of my life: I was leaving the Council, my management role and my employee life, and taking up part-time doctoral study. As a new consultant, I felt Pilotlight would help me learn how to be a coach/collaborative consultant. Evolving a new sense of purpose was incredibly important to me and joining Pilotlight became an important part of that. I also joined to continue to develop my knowledge in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the third sector.
Tell us one thing you’ve learnt through working with us.
I’ve learnt a lot from being a Pilotlighter, however the most important thing would be how the ‘slow but sure’ coaching approach that we take as Pilotlighters, working at the pace of the charity, brings real results.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
Understanding the detail of the charity sector, both generally and more specifically around finances and budgeting has been challenging. That’s where the knowledge and expertise of the Pilotlight Project Manager is invaluable!
What’s been your biggest surprise?
I went in thinking ‘how can I help?’ and didn’t realise not only how much I’d get back, but also how much I’d enjoy it.
Has working with charities inspired you in any way?
Yes, very much so! I have been constantly inspired by the commitment of people in the sector, their determination, long term purpose, and their focus on values. Many a business and business person could learn from them!
Has being a Pilotlighter influenced you in any other area of your life?
Being a Pilotlighter has helped give me a real sense of purpose and self-worth after leaving my local government life. It has enhanced my understanding of the responsible business agenda and how it links to the concept of ‘inclusive growth’. Businesses are changing and Pilotlight is on the crest of this changewave!
Pilotlight is also helping me to develop my career in new directions. I am acquiring new skills for my professional practice and am benefitting from networking opportunities within Pilotlight’s membership.
Lastly, it’s deepened my understanding of the charity sector and has helped me improve my contribution as a Trustee outside of my Pilotlight engagement.
Describe the Pilotlight Effect.
The Pilotlight Effect is both revelatory and empowering. Pilotlight builds confidence for the Pilotlighters and the charities by opening windows to new understandings and perspectives.
What have you learnt about yourself through working with Pilotlight?
I have learnt that I can move from a managerial role to a coaching/facilitating role. I am able to stand back, take more of a back seat and not always lead. I knew this was something I would have to learn as a consultant and Pilotlight has helped me explore different facets of myself.
What would you ask the next Pilotlighter who does a profile?
Name one thing you’ve learnt from Pilotlight that you could apply in your day job/ business.