Having a clear purpose and values in life is important to me, a key reason why working as an Associate with The Staff College is great – values matter and what we do makes a real difference.
I’m originally from Mirfield in West Yorkshire (the home town of Patrick Stewart aka Jean-
Luc Picard of Star Trek fame, no relation!) but I moved to Scotland to study for an MA in English at Aberdeen University. After graduating, I briefly worked in the oil and gas sector before doing a postgrad in Education and becoming an English teacher. I loved teaching because of two things – my passion for English, and also making a difference for young people’s lives. My first job was in an inner city school in Aberdeen and I’ve always had a strong desire to support those who need it the most. Eventually I became a secondary Head Teacher in two large schools and in 2011, I was appointed as Head of Education in Education and Children’s Services in local government. I then became the lead for Educational Improvement across eight local authorities across the north and west of Scotland, which gave me vast experience of educational, corporate and political environments at local and national government levels, working with senior civil servants, national organisations and the Deputy First Minister.
Ironically, promotion can take you further away from your original core purpose. I was fortunate in having extensive experiences in the public sector in senior roles which are invaluable to me still. Yet, I still wanted to make a real difference for children and families in my work.
So, I created my business called Callery, named after the callery ‘Survivor Tree’, a gnarled stump that was rescued from the carnage of the 9/11 terror attack in New York. It was replanted at the site of the World Trade Centre and miraculously grew into a majestic tree. It’s a symbol of hope, resilience, strength and determination – they matter to me personally and professionally. It summed up what I wanted to do now – work with people who have similar beliefs, mindsets and passions. I set out to do just that, focusing on leadership development, consultation, facilitation, mentoring, coaching and improvement methods.
It’s never easy starting something new. So, one of the first organisations I began to work with as an Associate three years ago was The Staff College. I had participated in programmes before, and knew that they were extremely values-based. As an Associate, I’ve been fortunate to lead some Leadership Development Programmes supporting local authorities, and work in areas such as reverse mentoring, coaching, facilitating and also ‘technical’ areas that I have skills in, such as educational improvement, research and analysis in Children’s Services. It is so rewarding to work with and learn from the amazing people I have been fortunate to meet at The Staff College.
Life is a journey might be a cliche, but there’s an element of truth in it. I live beside the Cairngorms National Park and I love hillwalking and climbing, as well as cycling and the outdoors in general. I’ve never lost my love of literature and reading, but also thrive through cooking and wellbeing practices. Oh, and I’m a football fan – Celtic in Scotland, Leeds in England, so a bit of pain balances things out! But on life’s journey, I enjoy each step of the way, and I’m looking forward to many more journeys with all of the great people at The Staff College in future years.