Sean Duffy reflects on a new chapter as the Wise Group has taken the decision to move from its current premises
It has been two years since I became chief executive of the Wise Group and in that time my colleagues and I have soul searched and passionately debated about what the true purpose of the Wise Group is. We are now much clearer and aligned on this however, we will continue to review, debate and hone to ensure our focus remains clear and our activities true. While reviewing our purpose it became clear we also had to review our place, Charlotte Street. Our home had to be more than just an asset; it had to be a strategic tool that fosters positivity and growth.
Our office in Charlotte Street is at the gateway to one of the most socioeconomically challenged areas in Glasgow. Our building sits on the site of David Dale’s mansion and laterally was a secondary school designed by distinguished Glasgow practice Gillespie Kidd & Coia. Its heritage is important to us. Architects Isi Metzstein and Andy MacMillan were innovative in approach, and David Dale was an apprentice turned great industrialist and founder of New Lanark Mills who strove to improve lives.
Our connection to David Dale's ambitions is real and one that we celebrated in 2011 by unveiling a commemorative plaque with The Friends of New Lanark. It’s a connection we hold on to today. We share a common purpose for positive social impact helping customers access a New View to a sustainable future.
People and place
We are a social enterprise with big ambitions and a strategy to deliver. My colleagues are working hard to implement new technology and new ways of working. A great start, but collectively we know we can do more. We know we can have even greater social impact. We know that ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast ‘ and by transforming to a more modern and flexible operating model we have the ability to be closer to our communities and not be bound by a physical place of work that in recent years has started to restrict us.
So, The Wise Group HQ at Charlotte Street is on the market.
Our Charlotte Street home is quirky and full of history. But it’s also big and over the years has become a little clunky and cavernous for us. Our justice, skills, employment and fuel poverty colleagues are all hidden away in separate secondary school style form rooms when the majority could and should be in our communities, where the need and impact is greatest.
Scotland faces a staggering social challenge and SIMD (Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation) figures published in January highlight that six Council areas have a larger share of the 20% most deprived data zones compared to 2016. This demonstrates that it’s more important now than ever to work in, and with, communities so that no community is left behind.
The Wise Group continues to be driven by the same group of committed, talented and passionate people who have brought our enterprise to this point and our clear purpose to lift people out of poverty is stronger now than ever. We are excited about the opportunity to develop new approaches, connections and capabilities that this move will unlock for us. We are excited about the positive opportunity this provides to our colleagues, our partners and most importantly our customers. And we thank Charlotte Street and its unique spirit for being our home and now our launch pad to a new and exciting future.
Sean Duffy is chief executive of the Wise Group. He is on the board of SCVO, Strathclyde Business School, South Lanarkshire College and Scottish Golf. He tweets as @Sirus_d