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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.

Marc Lambert: why Game Of Thrones beats Eastenders

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Marc Lambert, chief executive of the Scottish Book Trust, on what makes him tick

What makes a good day at work?

Seeing evidence of how the charitable work we do really has a positive impact on people’s lives. That makes everything worthwhile. Also, interesting conversations about work and related issues with my talented colleagues. Books arriving in the post always makes me happy too!

How many hours do you normally work in a week?

I’m contracted to work 35 hours a week, but in practice I work whenever required; it’s not for a chief executive to watch his or her hours.

What do you procrastinate over?

Things I’m not very good at doing. That’s quite a long list… luckily there’s a good balance of skills, interests and characters in my team, and they make up for my deficiencies.

What turns you into the office Victor Meldrew?

I’m not known for being patient about ignorance, racism, sexism, homophobia or neo-liberal economics. Given the current situation, there’s quite a lot to be grumpy about.

Marc Lambert

Building a fairer society makes things better for us all, poor and rich

Marc Lambert

Is the third sector a calling or an accident?

Definitely a calling; it’s vocational. I started my career working for a bank, and lasted six months. That kind of self-interest wasn’t for me.

What happens during your perfect weekend?

I love to cook, so having friends round for a good meal and a laugh is always a pleasure. Spending time with my children is important, especially as my wife passed away three years ago.

What’s your favourite film (or album)?

Van Morrison’s album Veedon Fleece is a work of total genius, and not likely ever to be equalled.

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

Definitely. We live in Europe’s most unequal society. The gap between rich and poor is simply obscene. Austerity, Brexit and the uncertainty over our future as an economy and a nation makes the situation even more acute for many. Building a fairer society makes things better for us all, poor and rich. (See The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better by Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson).

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

Yes, and hugely surprised too! But I think he’d be happy that he ended up making a contribution to society, given all the advantages he started with. And, given his love of reading, he’d be pleased that he ended up doing a wonderfully interesting job that involves books.

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

It’s usually emails on the smartphone, then Game of Thrones! That said, the books are far better than the TV series.

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

I didn’t have a proper job until I was 30 and I’ve never been particularly career driven. All I’ve ever wanted to do by way of work is something interesting and worthwhile. In that regard I have the best job in Scotland.

What do you think is the main strengths of the Scottish charity sector?

It is full of smart, passionate and driven people who want to make a difference. Without that you can’t get real progress or change. Unfortunately, we live in an era when the traditional social measures that protected people from falling into deprivation have been badly eroded, so charity workers and leaders have to have the passion to engineer change through being social entrepreneurs.

What does your dream retirement look like?

A wee house on the Amalfi Coast (my mother is Italian), and a wee flat in Edinburgh.

Brian Denis Cox or Brian Edward Cox?

I wish I was half as smart as B.E. but for sheer presence, it has to be B.D.