2015 Voluntary Sector Finalists

Lindsay Bruce, NewLink Wales with Barry Hitchcock, Fairwood Trust

Leadership in the Voluntary & Not for Profit Sector sponsored by the Fairwood Trust

The shortlistclick on a name to read their personal “Leadership Story”

Lindsay Bruce – CEO, NewLink Wales (winner)
Rocio Cifuentes – Director, Ethnic Youth Support Team
Marten Lewis – Executive Director, Darwin Centre for Biology and Medicine
David Pugh – Chief Executive, Prime Cymru


Lindsay Bruce

CEO, NewLink Wales

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

Tackling problematic substance misuse is my reason for being here. I have a passion for service users that is driven by my own personal experience of substance misuse, mental health and homelessness although that doesn’t mean I’m after a ‘troubled girl done good’ sympathy vote. I believe beyond all else that people can change. I know people can turn their lives around and I’ll keep fighting to make that happen. I’ve worked my way up from humble beginnings and remember how I needed to be led and that is my main influence today as a leader.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with NewLink Wales?

Watching our organisation thrive after coming so close to closing down and seeing the team develop with everyone contributing to our sustainability has been such a privilege. I believe in what this organisation does for people and would have been absolutely gutted to see it go. The sheer hard work and effort needed throughout this time was collectively our biggest challenge. At the end of the day, seeing people achieve their own recovery goals and being part of that because we are still here far outweigh any of the challenges we have had to overcome as an organisation.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?

I’ve learned, that despite my almost crippling introversion, I’m not too bad at this and that I’m not the only person who sometimes feels like they don’t know what they’re doing!  Being a leader means that I don’t have to have all the answers, it means that I need to bring out the best in others to get them.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2015?

Balancing building effective partnerships while working within the competitive tendering environment of the 3rd sector is always difficult. For non-profit organisations there is often little money left to spend on organisational development and growth and sometimes this can mean it can be difficult to retain excellent people.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?

I’m inspired by Rosie Swale Pope.  Following the tragic death of her husband she literally ran around the world, sleeping in a pod that she pulled behind her.  She overcame Siberian winters, injuries, wild animals, a Russian man with an axe and a robbery – and she just kept going! That’s real hardcore resilience!

What is one word that sums up leadership for you? Passion

Lindsay Bruce has been the CEO of NewLink Wales since July 2011. She maintains responsibility for driving forward sustainable growth with staff and service user involvement integral to the function of the organisation. As the champion of a culture of innovation Lindsay ensures that NewLink Wales is positioned to continue to grow and develop, providing effective services for those that need them.

 


Rocio Cifuentes

Director, Ethnic Youth Support Team

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

I am the daughter of political refugees from Chile who came to Wales to find safety and sanctuary – this has indelibly shaped who I am and my approach to leadership is always to lead in support of the most vulnerable. I have also had the privilege of a free and world class quality education in school in Swansea, and then in university in Cambridge – giving me close up experience of power and privilege. This too has shaped my understanding of social justice, inequalities and the role and responsibilities of leaders in challenging this.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with the Ethnic Youth Support Team?

The main highlights have come from seeing the incremental growth of the organisation stemming from the efforts of the seemingly small and powerless… so, seeing EYST constituted in 2005 by a group of young ethnic minority people was one such highlight, as was being there when it opened its state of the art youth centre in 2009 which had been refurbished by BME young people themselves.  Major challenges have come from the inevitable power struggles and competition with other organisations, and balancing the need to sustain and consolidate what works against the drive for growth and innovation in our services.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?

  • Always take time to do at least some front-line work, to remind yourself what it’s all about.
  • Keep a clear vision about what you want to achieve, why and who for
  • Learn to recognise the strengths and qualities in individuals, and find ways of harnessing these.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2015?

I don’t really see ’leaders’ as a homogenous group – they are as varied as people are, with their own values, challenges and motivations. But if leaders only reflect and give voice to collective needs, then there are clearly huge issues of poverty, social inequality, social isolation, and political engagement.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?

I admire leaders who speak out on issues affecting the disadvantaged, who get on with things and make change happen – don’t just talk the talk. Female political leaders have been particularly inspirational in the run up to the general election, giving inspiration to emerging leaders from the more non-traditional groups.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?  Empowerment

Rocio Cifuentes is Director or Ethnic Youth Support Team, responsible for all aspects of the organisation’s strategic and operational development. Based in Swansea, EYST employs 15 staff, 10 of whom are full time, and provides services to BME young people and their families across South Wales.


Marten Lewis

Executive Director, Darwin Centre for Biology and Medicine

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

I benefited from being a volunteer at my current organisation for 18 months. Understanding what it means to work up from the bottom was invaluable. Leaving school directionless at 16 to join the Army, I very quickly saw leadership in action. Experiencing first-hand the importance of excellent leadership, and how it can be the difference between life and death. Leaving a career at 28, re-entering education (4 yrs), and a new career, has exposed me to leaders of all shapes. My MSc (Management) has added an understanding of leadership from within the body of literature and research.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with Darwin Centre for Biology and Medecine?

The main highlights have been developing relationships with like-minded individuals and organisations, finding ways to create outcomes for those engaging with the Voluntary sector that outweigh the sum of the individual organisations. Also building bridges between sectors that would not normally complement each other; this is often very challenging, and incredibly rewarding. I am very proud of bringing volunteers through, many of whom  I work with regularly as employees of partner organisations, and some of whom  have progressed to work alongside me at the Darwin Centre. The challenge of supporting other non-profit organisations also drives me, volunteering on several steering groups.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?

Relationships, relationships, relationships… Working with people to find the best outcomes, throughout the organisation, partners, and most importantly, customers, through challenges and successes, has been the most import lesson I have learned. I read about this during studies, but have learned it at all levels, through different careers and sectors.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2015?

Recognising the need for change, maximising the change that can be borne. The understanding of all involved is crucial. The leadership required is not a gift, but earned from those you lead, and must be continually re-earned. Leading progress is a privilege in as distinctive and rewarding a country as Wales.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?

Sam Warburton:

  • Leads from the front
  • respectful of, and respected by his competitors and team mates
  • openly gives encouragement to, but also listens to, experienced and junior players
  • makes difficult discussions under pressure

Along with a warm and likeable demeanour Sam commands and exudes leadership.

What is one word that sums up leadership for you?

Relationships

As Executive Director at the Darwin Centre Marten has a vital leadership role in delivering this charity’s educational programme; managing its relationships with others; building and expanding Darwin’s reputation and recognition; and serving our core purpose of increasing understanding of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).


David Pugh

Chief Executive, Prime Cymru (The Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise in Wales)

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?

I have had quite a varied career to date with roles working for a multinational in commerce, to working in education and training to business development roles.  The majority of my posts have been at a management level, or as part of a senior management team, and this has afforded me opportunity to work for, and with, some great skilled managers and unfortunately with some not quite so skilled! This journey has helped me to acquire many transferable skills and management techniques which I have the fortunate opportunity to utilise in my current role.

What have been the main highlights and challenges since taking up your leadership role with PRIME Cymru?

One of the biggest challenges for me was taking on overall management of a charity and team of staff who had to work with single year funding which meant that at the end of each year all staff were put at risk of redundancy.   There have been many highlights including; setting-up a Patronage Scheme which now ensures the long-term sustainability of the charity, doubling the number of staff delivering our services, supporting nearly 10,000 individuals over 50 to start a business or secure employment and working with colleagues to provide a SROI of over £10 million to the Welsh economy.

What have been the most helpful things you have learnt from these highlights and challenges?

To always look forward to new challenges, but to also remember that change for change’s sake is not necessarily the optimum route to a harmonious workplace.  To build a team that is ready to both question and contribute to plans but also willing to challenge with ideas of their own.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing leaders in Wales in 2015?

Dealing with the slower return to a thriving economy compared to some parts of England leaving a legacy of many areas in Wales suffering from multiple deprivation.  The challenge is for us to find and create routes out of this situation at a time of relatively slow growth.

Which other leaders in Wales do you admire and why?

There are many brilliant and well known leaders in Wales.  However, some of the leaders  I admire most are those we have helped to start a business after the age of 50.  Many of whom have had to face multiple barriers to success but have had the motivation and commitment to make it work for themselves and those they have gone on to employ.

What is the one word that sums up leadership for you?

Tenacity

My role:

I head-up HRH The Prince of Wales’s only core charity that is wholly Wales Based.  We provide advice and support to people over the age of 50 who are economically inactive and potentially at risk facing older age poverty in retirement.  Each year we work with over 5,000 individuals to start their own business, secure sustainable employment, retrain or take-up volunteering opportunities to gain confidence and skills as the first step back to economic activity.  PRIME Cymru operates the largest volunteer mentoring programme related to economic activity in Wales with over 360 volunteers trained and providing over 42,000 hours per year of volunteer time for those seeking support.

Disclaimer: All details included in these leadership stories have been provided by the finalists themselves.  All information has been accepted in good faith.  Any references to individuals or circumstances have been relayed in the finalist’s own words and have not been verified by the Leading Wales Awards Directors or its Consortium.  Any views expressed are those of the individuals concerned and are not necessarily the views of the Leading Wales Awards Directors or Consortium members.


The Journey to Excellence
Contact
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info@walesqualitycentre.org.uk