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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.

Girlguiding Scotland’s Denise King on why she’s pleased to be a failed accountant

This feature is almost 10 years old

She hates clutter, climbs munros and went to school with celebrity physicist Brian Cox, Denise King reveals the secrets of her success to TFN

What time do you wake up?

My alarm is set for 6.15am but the dog usually jumps on me to make sure I’m awake!

What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at work?

Say hello to the team and accept the offer of a coffee.

What are you working on just now?

Our plans for growing guiding. We have a vibrant movement in Scotland with 60,000 members, but 5,000 girls are still on waiting lists. We want more volunteers to join us – at a local unit or getting involved in training or administration – so we can offer lots more girls the fun and opportunities that come with Girlguiding.

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

If I have time I’ll stretch my legs and nip out for a sandwich.

We have a vibrant movement in Scotland with 60,000 members, but 5,000 girls are still on waiting lists – we want more volunteers to join us

What makes a good day at work?

I’m always energised by seeing the dedication of our amazing staff and volunteers changing lives. I recently spoke to a young woman who was inspired to set up her own successful floristry business after trying it out as part of her Duke of Edinburgh Award through guiding. And hearing that a funding application has been successful, of course!

What turns you into the office Victor Meldrew?

Clutter. I’m a self-confessed neat freak.

How did you end up in your job?

By failing to be an accountant! I jacked it in to travel the world with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, helping to set up new associations in central and eastern Europe. After that I was hooked – I landed the top job at Girlguiding down in London and when I moved north I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to take up the same post at Girlguiding Scotland. I’m finding being able to work more closely with our volunteers really inspiring.

Should there be a cap on charity chief executive pay?

I think that’s a matter for each charity to determine for themselves.

Have you got thoughts on what you will do when you retire?

Climb munros. I’ve only managed a handful so far, so doing the lot should keep me busy – and healthy – for a good few years yet.

Have you made your mind up about the independence referendum?

We recently teamed up with the Scottish Youth Parliament to run a lively referendum debate for young women – the Twitter hashtag was #ayenawmibbe and I’m sticking to that for now.

Would we all be better off if charities did more in our society?

If every individual fulfilled their role as an active citizen, society would definitely benefit.

Armani or Primark?

Neither – I prefer charity shops.

Brian Denis Cox or Brian Edward Cox?

Brian Edward Cox – we were contemporaries at the same Oldham school, and I have fond memories of challenging discussions on the merits of single sex vs co-education.