Candidate Interview with Don MacIntyre, Interim Commercial Director
Words by Fran Lynch, Green Park
Don MacIntyre is June’s candidate interviewee for our Charities and Social Enterprise newsletter. Don is currently an Interim Director of Marketing and Commercial Development for Find A Future, a small charity which gives young people the opportunity to unlock their potential and inspiring them through hands on activities. Don has also worked with London’s Air Ambulance and Kidzania.
1. Tell us a little bit about your current interim assignment and the organisation?
My current assignment is with Find a Future. Find a Future is the organisation which brings together theUK Skills Competitions, The Skills Show and The Skills Show Experience, providing every young person with the chance to unlock their potential and inspiring them through hands-on experiential activities. They also manage, coach and mentor Team UK that competes on a world stage at the World Skills Competition every 2 years.
My current assignment is as the Interim Director of Marketing & Business Development. This included driving and managing a team of 10 whilst ensuring the business maintained and developed its commercial and fundraising strategies alongside a broad marketing strategy. The key tasks included:
• Delivering Commercial and Fundraising strategy
• Delivering a Marketing Strategy
• Key Member of the Senior Leadership Team
• Evaluate and deliver new CRM
• Evaluate and Develop interim Pipeline strategy and report
• Drive New Website project
• Assist CEO with New appointment of Head of Public Affairs
• Support and hand-over to New Director of Marketing & Business Development
• Support CEO in board communication directly relating to Marketing & Fundraising strategy
2. What were some of the challenges you faced?
The organisation had recently gone through a significant amount of change to include a significant reduction in staffing. Essentially streamlining the business due to a reduction in funding relating to the primary funding grant via the Skills Funding Agency. This has put more emphasis on the commercial offer for its key assets which had previously not been seen as a priority. The issue was ensuring the statutory funding, product content and marketing strategy closely linked with an overall need to drive a cohesive fundraising strategy. All whilst having to manage a team that had seen significant and very recent change.
3. How did you overcome them?
The challenge of any Interim Manager is ensuring continuity and stability for both the direct reports but also ensuring that you focus on delivering more in a role in a shorter period of time. At Find a Future the initial pressure was the need to review the fundraising and marketing strategy in time for a board meeting three weeks from the contract start date. Although in the short term this issue had me focus solely on the need to deliver the strategy but it did allow me to get a very deep understanding of the business and its clear need for stability. As there had been so much change the team also felt isolated. The process of strategy evaluation allowed me to use this opportunity to empower the entire team to support me and allow them a strong voice in determining the short and long term strategies and goals. This immediately generated a strong support structure and allowed me to then address the other issues the business and team was needing.
4. A number of your interim roles have been in the charities & social enterprise sector, what do you enjoy most about the sector?
After many years working in the commercial world where the passion is for profit, it was a refreshing change to see there was equal passion for both the business. The social enterprise and charity sectors combine the passion for cause as well as the profit and many staff’s reason to work in the sector is initially driven by a need to address social or cultural indifference. It is also fantastic to be a part of driving organisations that can then put more funds directly into the community or cause associated with the organisation. I have found making use of my skills in driving businesses in this market sector extremely satisfying.
5. What has been your most challenging interim assignment and why?
To date the most challenging was working for London’s Air Ambulance. Already a very impressive clinical service it had perhaps suffered on the business side and it was clear that the new CEO had a major task to turn the business around. I joined on a short term contract as the Director of Fundraising with a CEO who had only been in place for less than three months. Hisback ground was large corporate CSR and although had experience in the sector he needed a strong advisor to assist with developing a diverse and stable fundraising strategy. The Director of Fundraising had been appointed but would be unable to join for another three months and the business needed strong support and leadership. In a short period of time it became clear that the business needed fundamental change to achieve and it literally needed to be looked at on every level. Working closely with the CEO I not only was tasked with the development but then being asked to deliver:
• New branding strategy
• Marketing material review
• Sponsorship strategy
• Operational dispatch application
In the end it lasted more than 18 months and I have remained as a volunteer and support a fantastic organisation and a very inspiring CEO that truly has changed the business to a high profile organisation that is exceeding all business targets. London’s Air Ambulance is now not only a leading clinical service but an extremely impressive business as well. It was hard work but extremely rewarding.
6. What is the best part of being an interim manager compared to being a permanent member of staff?
I did not initially set out to be a professional Interim but the one clear thing I have enjoyed most is delivering at a faster pace that is often not possible when you are a permanent staff member. Instinctively you are aware of your departure on your first day so the need to evaluate and get the support of those around you and support them to achieve but ultimately achieve your goals at the same time. It is very fasted paced and diverse.
7. What advice would you give to someone wanting to move into interim management?
The first is often the most difficult and if you are not committed to being an interim staff member you can often occupy that grey area of thinking you might stay. I feel if you move into this sector your best in committing to be an interim staff member – embrace it. Accept you will be leaving and be disciplined about that departure, you will be more successful and are in a better place to support those that come in to the business on a permanent basis. Working with a good agency is equally important and you should be smart about understanding what your background can bring to an organisation.
8. What would be your ideal interim assignment?
This is a difficult question because each role has been an ideal assignment. I have genuinely enjoyed the roles I have done. Perhaps it is time to look at taking on more senior roles (CEO) in smaller organisations. But ultimately, I have been lucky enough to have had some very interesting contracts which have both been rewarding and which have exposed me to other sectors I have not necessarily been familiar with, but where my skills and experience were very helpful.
9. What do you like to do outside of work?
I coach Rugby and have done for more than eight years. I played for years myself before I embraced coaching and after a break in the sport I missed it and felt that coaching was the direction I wanted to go in. I enjoy it and helps with the needed people skills as an interim!
10. If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have three items what would you pick and why?
Kindle with 1000’s of books, iPod and a solar charger. All terribly impractical but will certainly help with passing the time!