Chief encounters: Susie Williamson of Seamab
Susie Williamson, fundraising manager of children's charity Seamab, on what makes her tick
What makes a good day at work?
Before they reach Seamab, our kids have all been through some form of trauma or loss. A good day is hearing about an achievement – anything from trying a new food to learning to ride a bike. We all celebrate those days.
How many hours do you normally work in a week?
An average 37, but more in the run up to a fundraising event.
What do you procrastinate over?
I’m not a huge fan of long meetings, and I hate taking minutes!
Why do you work in the third sector?
I started my career in local journalism at 17, and was there three years before I developed a chronic illness. I had to change my ambitions, and found that volunteering and later working within charities making a difference to people’s lives felt like the right path for me.
Is it better to work for a big or a small charity?
Both have their plus points but I prefer working with a small charity. It’s much easier to develop the stories that donors need to hear in order to understand why a smaller charity needs their help. The way things are within the third sector right now, it’s important that people feel close and connected to the cause they’re supporting.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I talked at the Scottish Institute of Fundraising Conference in 2015, about how my personal journey with neurosarcoidosis helped me to support fundraisers to tell their stories. I’d never talked about it so publicly before. A delegate approached me afterwards in tears and told me she’d recently lost her husband, but thought she could use the experience in a helpful way. I now make a point of talking about it positively when I can.
Who is or was your role model?
I’m incredibly inspired by Gordon Aikman, who’s using his personal battle with motor neurone Disease to promote awareness and to raise as much money as he can in the time he has left. It’s a horrendous condition, but he writes and talks about it positively and eloquently.
If you could give one piece of advice what would it be?
Listen, even if you don’t like what’s being said. You’ll learn much more from listening than from talking.
How did you end up in your job?
I did my Certificate in Fundraising in 2015, and when the position of fundraising manager at Seamab came up the following year, I knew I wasn’t ever going to get a better chance to use what I’d just learnt as well as work for a charity that does something I feel so passionate about - supporting children who’ve been through abuse and neglect.
Is this a step on the ladder to success or your final destination?
I’m very happy where I am but I still have a lot to learn – so it’s a step on the ladder, but I’m in no tearing hurry!
What's your favourite film and record?
I’ve listened to Clocks by Coldplay almost every day since it came out in 2002. My favourite film is Paper Towns, based on the novel by John Green.
Any new year resolutions?
To look after my health better.
2017 - reasons to be cheerful or fearful?
Both. There’s been momentous events globally and I do worry about the shift in political and ethical attitudes. That said, there’s a lot of good in the world and I think Scotland is displaying an excellent example.
Which Brian Cox?
The scientist – he seems a thoroughly decent person.