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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Chief encounters: Ian McLaughlan goes wreck diving in Mexico

This feature is over 9 years old

Ian McLaughlan likes bananas, wreck diving and his wonderful colleagues at Youth Scotland

What do you eat for breakfast?
Usually a banana and a cereal bar while in transit (except on a Friday when it’s a communal bacon roll day)!

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive in the office?
Say good morning to colleagues and then hover around the kitchen hoping a colleague will make me a coffee. Sadly, I’m then drawn far too easily to the list of emails in the inbox awaiting me (I do like it though when I can tick off the majority and leave only a few for red flag action).

What are you working on just now?
Spinning several plates as ever but the big ones are working with sector colleagues in the implementation of the national youth work strategy and in developing Youth Scotland’s strategic planning process for 2016-19, which we started thinking about last year. I’m currently working with colleagues reviewing our high level statements and consulting on our outcomes for young people and our main priorities for the future. Oh, and we’ve had an unfortunate run of ill-health hitting some of my colleagues quite hard this winter which puts pressure on a very lean team of dedicated staff.

How many hours do you normally work in a day?
I’m trying to encourage my staff to have a better work life balance these days so I’m not setting a very good example by confessing to a minimum of nine hours in a fairly typical day but regularly going beyond that I’m afraid.

Chief encounters: Ian McLaughlan goes wreck diving in Mexico

All my jobs have been learning experiences even working in a foundry when you could only see the whites of my eyes at the end of the shift!

What makes a good day at work?
Having productive meetings, achieving personal deadlines and when I see success reported from a project or a service we deliver in our work in support of youth work and young people. This happens a lot in Youth Scotland!

What turns you into the office Victor Meldrew?
It rarely happens (although colleagues may tell you differently!) but I do get a bit grumpy when people don’t share my ideas and plans! Some people may see obstacles that I am blind to.

What do you procrastinate over?
Reports and preparing well for board and senior staff meetings.

How did you end up in your job?
By good fortune, a bit of hard work and by the decisions of several people who believed in me (even if I didn’t at times!). I came into charity leadership via many years of volunteering, seizing an opportunity to use that experience to move into training and development work with the Boy's Brigade full-time which set me on a leadership journey in children and youth work services which ultimately led me to the job of my dreams!

Do you ever wonder ‘what would my predecessor do’?
I do occasionally especially in knowing that she had such a strong grasp of what made Youth Scotland tick and wondering how she managed the pressures of the job.

Is this a step on the rung to success or your final destination?
With 27 mostly rewarding years working in the sector, it’s final frontier for me with just a few years left to help Youth Scotland continue to play a full and active part in the youth work landscape in Scotland.

Do you prefer working with volunteers or paid employees?
My roots are in volunteer development and I have always been amazed at the loyalty and dedication of people who commit huge number of hours to the cause of supporting children and young people so my empathy naturally lies with the thousands of volunteers in our network but I rarely have the opportunity to work directly with many of them. I rely on a wonderful staff team at Youth Scotland – who are a really good bunch of people to work alongside – to have that particular interface with our volunteers.

What was the last thing you did that scared you?
Apart from the wreck diving at 30 metres off the coast of Mexico a couple of years ago, and going well beyond my comfort zone, I would have to say it’s the number of times I wish I could have approached a people problem in a different way!

What’s the worst job you’ve ever done?
All my jobs have been learning experiences even working in a foundry when you could only see the whites of my eyes at the end of the shift!

How often do you socialise with colleagues outside the Christmas party?
Not nearly often enough as we intend to but we have a plan to have a BBQ with families on Portobello Beach next month.

Would your 16-year-old self be impressed with where you are now?
He’d be gob-smacked and he wouldn’t believe the wonderful career changes and opportunities that I’ve enjoyed in the voluntary sector.

Brian Denis Cox or Brian Edward Cox?
Physics was a subject that sailed past me at school so I’m drawn to some of the similarities I share with the younger Brian Denis Cox. I actually met him at (name dropper) a Holyrood Palace reception that I was invited to by SCVO when we were both introduced to the Queen! He too was very charming.