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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: Sean Duffy is hugely excited to be leading the Wise Group

This feature is almost 6 years old

The new chief executive at Scotland's biggest employability social enterprise believes nobody is unemployable

What makes a good day at work?

Well, I’m fairly new at the Wise Group, so come back in a year and ask me that one.

Why did you join the Wise Group?

I’m hugely excited by the opportunity to lead an organisation that has the potential to directly address some of our most chronic societal problems.

Do you socialise with colleagues outside the Christmas party?

Not as yet – again ask me that a year from now! However, I do like the odd Magners or malt whisky (hint to my new colleagues)

Is anyone ever unemployable?

I don’t believe so – the challenge is more with employer education and support. Heritage thinking and sifting within standard recruitment processes can make it difficult for those who present a non-standard career history.

What was the last thing you did that scared you?

Being part (not voluntarily) of a two-man dance-off at St. Andrews Holiday Park. Oh, how my youngest son laughed as he recorded my pain.

What’s your favourite book?

The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron - Bethany McLean & Peter Elkind (It’s astonishing what they got away with )

Is social enterprise the future of business?

I think it’s more that social enterprise thinking is the future of business. Purpose and profit are bedfellows that can coexist beneficially.

Is Facebook your friend or your enemy?

Personally, it’s my friend, as it provides a way of keeping in touch with my friends in various countries.

Professionally, it can be your enemy if you’re not alive to its power (good or otherwise).

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

48 is not old . . . stop thinking it is.

What’s your perfect weekend?

St. Andrews with my wife Stephanie and my three sons, Reuben, Saul and Caleb.

An early morning walk around the Old Course, then golf with Stephanie and Caleb.

A late lunch at Hams Hame with the family, followed by cheese, wine and Gogglebox in the evening.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

One week as a labourer to a kitchen fitting team in my very early twenties. Relentless ribbing from joiners accompanied the splinters in my hands.

After that I realised I needed to secure an office-based career.

Is the third sector a calling?

I think it can be for many people. For me, it’s a motivation to get involved. I’ve had direct experience of the help the third sector can provide, and that is something that I want to ensure I can, in some way, help make possible for others.

What’s the best thing that’s happened this month?

Personally, our son Saul secured an unconditional offer for university. This was not something he thought he could or would do and to see him overcome confidence issues to achieve this made me tremendously proud.

Professionally, I got to see first-hand the great work our Through the Gate team of mentors do in HMP Durham and Low Newton. Their compassion and commitment was overwhelming.

Should the third sector do more in Scottish society?

I fully believe that the third sector can help bridge the trust gap which currently exists in Scottish society. The greed as a motivator narrative has been played out relentlessly in public since the financial crash. The concept of social capital, the essence of what social enterprises should have as their core purpose, can play an essential role in helping re-establish a healthy and prosperous societal attitude for the future with trust as its foundation.

After all, the essential ingredient in creating social capital is Trust.

Which Brian Cox?

Dundee Brian Cox. Those of a certain vintage will remember him as their first Hannibal Lecter in Manhunter. Scary guy in a white boiler suit.