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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Chief Encounters: Eoghan Mackie, Challenges Worldwide

This feature is over 6 years old

The chief executive talks about two decades of working at the helm of the international development charity

What is the first thing you do when you arrive at work?

I say good morning to people and make a cup of coffee. Then I catch up with anyone I haven’t seen in the last day or so – we have lots of exciting international projects going on so I love hearing what people are up to.

What makes a good day at work?

When the victories exceed the hindrances.

How often do you socialise with colleagues outside the Christmas party?

I have two young children and my wife and I both work full time, so we don’t get out much! That said, we do have an open and fun culture at work, often sharing food or having a drink together at the end of the working day or to celebrate achievements – it’s amazing how many of those you can find if it means a chance to down tools and have fun.

Is it better to work for a big charity or a small charity?

I don’t think it is size, but more the culture of the charity that is important. We are very focused on impact – everyone at Challenges has the choice to be here and, although it is hard work, we share the same drive to achieve results for our target partners.

Eoghan Mackie
Eoghan Mackie

What do you enjoy most about working at Challenges Worldwide?

I love the range of businesses we support overseas and seeing the impact they have over time. I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years now, so I’ve been lucky enough to see many successes, as well as learn from other less successful endeavours. Lately, we’ve been working with hundreds of young people aiming to help them springboard into impactful careers in high potential social ventures. It is always phenomenal to see the progress so many of our alumni are making.

What’s your favourite book?

Cheesy, but Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist was a great story. I mainly read more factual content, but when I do take the plunge into a story, I like a good symbolic tale.

Would your 16-year-old self be impressed with where you are now?

My 16-year old self was a different person, destined to go in a very different direction. I had a significant life event at a pivotal age and that changed everything. It is funny how many people I’ve met around the world who have chosen more impactful paths after a similarly significant shock to the system.

Which do you prefer and why – Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin?

Twitter – I can find things I am interested in quickly.

What’s your perfect weekend?

Saturday morning ballet with my daughter, hanging out in the café with my son. Then we all go to Dalkeith Country Park or Conifox. Sometimes a barbecue early evening. On a Sunday we like to go to Dunbar beach.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

My proudest moment was when I left commercial practice and set out on the social entrepreneurship journey. My second proudest moment was to realise that I am still here 20 years later pushing for social impact through business.

What was your first job?

A corporate lawyer with Arthur Andersen.

Is the third sector a calling or an accident?

A calling that came in my early career. I need to know what I do has impact.

Which Brian Cox do you prefer?

The keyboardist turned physicist – I think he does a great job of engaging people with science and learning.