How I became a charity chief executive

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Martin Dorchester explains his move from Calmac to the third sector

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3rd September 2018 by TFN Guest 0 Comments

You could be forgiven for thinking there’s no obvious connection between running a large transport provider and managing a charity dedicated to young people.

So what enticed me from my role as group CEO of David MacBrayne Ltd to chief executive of Includem? Funnily enough, I don’t view the missions as differently as you might expect.

Includem is a third sector organisation that provides intensive, bespoke support to young people and their families in challenging circumstances so they are empowered to make positive life choices when they find themselves at a crossroads.

Martin Dorchester

Martin Dorchester

I always considered Calmac to be a very large social enterprise, providing vital lifeline services to fragile communities. Its role was to normalise people’s lives as much as possible. We transported children to school and helped locals commute, in addition to providing employment and training so crucial to our communities’ survival. 

Includem is also a provider of vital services. We help young people to realise their potential and move towards a positive destination, whether that be to engage with school, to enter employment -  or to become the next chief executive.

A young person once said to me: “What’s the point of a second chance, when you never had a first?”

This painful question resonated with me, but was answered by Includem’s tenacity. We don’t count chances. We believe young people are worth our time and efforts so never give up. We don’t let our young people down and in return they never let us down.

Thanks to the tangible results which Includem delivers, it has a fantastic reputation across all sectors. This is based upon the integrity which so clearly runs through every vein of the organisation, from its staff to its projects and vision for the future. Integrity is a value I absolutely hold dear so the chance to play a part in the future of Includem was too good an opportunity to miss.

Moving from the private sector might not have been the leap anyone expected, but I believe that cross-sector experience offers valuable perspectives which can help us all to achieve our goals. For example, I’ve noticed that the third sector is by far the most innovative and family friendly. In many ways it has to be, as resources are often tight and funding can frequently be short-term. As such, the sector has an amazing capacity to find imaginative solutions to really challenging problems and I think the private sector certainly could learn a lot from this.

I also believe charities need to give greater consideration to recruiting from public and private spheres. The relatively lower salaries and misconceptions of the role of third sector organisations makes this challenging for sure, but I think that governments and those of us in the sector all have a role to play in raising its profile and communicating its purpose. Why shouldn’t we be seen as the sector of choice for talented, passionate and committed professionals?

In order to make this change, we have to be this change. I for one am excited by the chance to work with a great team to deliver meaningful transformations on a daily basis to amazing young people. I look forward to Includem’s recognition across the UK for the quality of its staff and the success of its young people.

Martin Dorchester is chief executive at Includem.