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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: John Macdonald enjoys a Wonderful Life

This feature is about 9 years old

John Macdonald would advise his 22-year-old self not to worry, except perhaps when invited to travel to St Kilda in a lightweight RIB

What time do you get up and what’s your morning routine?

I’m up just before 7am most days. I travel a fair bit in my job but if I’m in the office for the day I usually cycle to work – it’s a half hour uphill ride through Edinburgh. So roughly every second day I arrive at work puffing and panting.

What is your perfect weekend?

It would have to be sunny and warm. I’d go for a long walk with my wife in the countryside or up a hill. We’d eat good food, and in the evening meet with friends, take in a movie or go to the theatre or a concert. Watching football would also have to feature somewhere along the way, though my wife wouldn’t agree with me on that one.

What was the last thing you did that scared you?

A few years ago I sailed to St. Kilda on a type of boat called an RIB which has a powerful engine and is the quickest means of getting there by sea but it’s also quite small and lightweight. On the open Atlantic Ocean I was terrified.

What’s your favourite album / film?

“American 1V” by Johnny Cash is the album. Given the circumstances around the recording no other album is as poignant.

The film would be “It’s a Wonderful Life” – total schmaltz but lifts your spirits.

What advice would you give to your 22-year-old self?

Most of the things we get anxious about don’t come to pass, so don’t spend time worrying.

Is lunch a five-minute sandwich at your desk or do you find time for yourself?

It’s a five minute sandwich at the desk but I don’t recommend it. It’s better to take a break away from the desk, chat with colleagues, or go for a walk for half an hour.

What do you procrastinate over?

It’s taken me ages to answer this question! Budget setting and other number crunching activities take me longer to do than they should.

You’re home, fully fed with your feet up – which comes first Eastenders or emails?

It’s TV before emails but not Eastenders.

Is this a step on the rung to success or your final destination?

Like most of us I’m not in charge of my own destiny so who knows what threats or opportunities are around the corner but I’d be content to stay where I am for the foreseeable future.

If you were your boss would you like you?

I hope so. I try to see things from other people’s perspective and give people I manage space to make their own mark.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever done?

Scaffolding was the first job I got after university – not exactly what I’d had in mind as a first career move but there was a recession at the time. The first week almost killed me physically. Though I got used to it I can’t say I ever enjoyed it.

Why do you work in the third sector?

All the jobs I’ve had in the sector have been meaningful and have given me a sense of purpose. I can’t see myself working outside the sector – I’ve always felt at home in it.

What’s your favourite - Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin?

I’m not a big user of social media but of the three Twitter is the one I find most useful.

Are boards the strength of the third sector or a thorn in its side?

I’m not so sure they are the strength of the sector but they have a critical role and are far from being a thorn in the sector’s side. Good staff and other kinds of volunteers are just as important as boards.

Brian Denis Cox (actor) or Brian Edward Cox (scientist)?

Though I’m deeply interested in the arts and clueless about physics I think Brian Edward Cox’s line of work is more valuable in the great scheme of things than the other fellow’s.

John Macdonald is director for Scotland for the Community Transport Association