Pippa Coutts, Policy and Development Manager at Carnegie UK Trust, speaks to BQ about her charity journey and describes the impact Scotland House has had on her business.
What is it your company does, and what makes it special?
The Carnegie UK Trust works to improve the wellbeing of the people of UK and Ireland. We seek to do that through influencing policy, and promoting innovative practice that supports people to live well.
We promote wellbeing at an individual, community and societal level and are particularly interested in the latter, which is living well together. We think that it should be the goal of governments, of all sizes.
How do you feel your business is ‘representative’ of Scotland?
Carnegie UK Trusts works across the UK and seeks to increase cross-jurisdictional policy learning. We like to think this desire to share with and learn from others, and to be outward facing reflects a general ambition of Scotland to be an open and welcoming place.
Scotland is one of a few countries across the world that has a wellbeing framework – The National Performance Framework – which both sets out the purpose of government and monitors its progress, so it can be held to account. Carnegie UK Trust has had ongoing involvement in developing the National Performance Framework and exporting learning from that process to other jurisdictions, for example, Northern Ireland.
I am the Policy and Development Manager in the Wellbeing and Towns team. All our work is designed, through our theory of change, to have an influence on societal wellbeing. Under this objective we have three strategic areas: flourishing towns; fulfilling work and digital futures. Two in five people in the UK live in towns, but towns are often left out of public policy. I am working to increase the visibility of towns in policy and to influence post-Brexit UK regional funding to take into account what we know towns need.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
I believe that what makes a good leader is the ability to listen and to take on board conditions and considerations of others, whilst also focussing on the aims of the company. I believe in the approach that Carnegie UK Trust has adopted in its five year strategy, to be evidence-informed. I believe research evidence has a role to play in decision-making, alongside tacit knowledge, or experience, and a sound understanding of the context and stakeholders.
What has been the biggest challenge in your current position?
Carnegie UK Trust is a cross UK organisation seeking to influence policy in the four parliaments of the UK. I relish being able to learn from the four UK jurisdictions, but it is also challenging for us to make sustained contacts in all of the (three sitting) parliaments.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I live on the edge of a town in Scotland, near to the hills; and I run and ride a horse!
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
I have had a portfolio career, but largely within the third sector, although at times I have worked for myself. My early career was in international development and with colleagues, I established an international livelihoods development company.
The thread to my working live has been the drive to tackle inequality – whether in the UK or beyond. For me that has been more important than having sustained work with one employer, or in one country! This has given me the confidence to try new things. I would advise people to work out what really matters to them.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
To find a mentor, someone who has succeeded in the sector where you’d like to follow a career, and to work with that mentor to receive advice about how to proceed for the longer term.
How and why did you become involved in Scotland House?
Previous to my current role, I was manager in Nesta, and moved with them from Holborn to 58 Victoria Embankment. Carnegie UK Trust and the Alliance for Useful Evidence, at Nesta, have for several years partnered on projects, like Evidence Exchange. Carnegie UK is based in Dunfermline, but has membership at Scotland House for meeting space and hot-desking.
Describe the three biggest benefits of being a member.
What would you say to a Scottish business considering membership?
We have found Scotland House to be an easy base, with friendly people and an uncomplicated environment. It probably has more opportunities, e.g. around networking, that we have yet to make use of.
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