Chief Encounters: Stuart Callison, St Andrews First Aid

First aid web

The first aid charity's boss reflects on his dream to be a professional cricketer, and is planning a digital detox

27th February 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

What is the first thing you do when you arrive at work?

Make a cup of tea to calm down after the daily brutal commute on the M77.

What makes a good day at work?

Any day where I feel we’re making concrete progress on key objectives: maybe a successful grant application for a new pet project, or a solution to that longstanding problem is starting to pay off…in other words, “I love it when a plan comes together”.

How often do you socialise with colleagues outside the Christmas party?

Occasionally. When I was in my late twenties/early thirties, my social life revolved around work colleagues and Friday night after work was a definite fixture. Now that I could actually consider doing that again, I notice that people that age seem to prefer to head home at the first opportunity. It’s a shame, although undoubtedly better for their health.

Stuart Callison

Stuart Callison

Is it better to work for a big charity or a small charity?

There are pros and cons to both. I think that small/medium sized charities have more flexibility and can change direction a bit more easily, but of course sometimes you need the resources of a big organisation to get things done. Whilst I haven’t actually worked for one of the big national charities, you never know what the future holds!

What do you enjoy most about working at St Andrew’s First Aid?

Working with our staff, trustees, and volunteers to ensure that our charity and its lifesaving mission is seen to be as relevant to this century as when it was founded in 1882.

What’s your favourite book?

If I have to choose, it would be Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine”. Published in 2007, her thesis on how neo-liberalism exploits the disorientation of ordinary citizens following major upheavals (e.g. 9/11, the Asian Tsunami) to drive through the agenda of a wealthy elite, has been completely borne out by events following the financial crash. Read this along with “Flat Earth News” (Nick Davies), and “Dark Money” (Jane Mayer) and you have the perfect primer on why modern politics works as it does.

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

I doubt it. I wanted to be a professional cricketer (and a little later - and just as hopelessly - an MP).

Which do you prefer and why – Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin?

For work purposes, I fully support the opportunities that social media has to offer and for a charity like St Andrews’s First Aid, it increasingly plays a valuable role in enabling us to effectively reach out and engage with audiences. However, on a personal level, it’s simply not my thing. Call me old school or traditional but I prefer to meet people in person or chat to them over the phone. I do use Facebook occasionally but I’m planning a digital detox there too. I’m starting a one-man tech backlash!

What’s your perfect weekend?

Friday with old friends in a familiar bar. A win for Partick Thistle (coupled with defeats for the other major Glasgow clubs…) and dinner or a film with the family. I’m between dogs but a long country walk with a canine companion would certainly feature: trying to stay fit through a health club seems like a form of community punishment by comparison.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

My son.

What was your first job?

Assistant auditor with the National Audit Office in London.

Is the third sector a calling or an accident?

Sort of both really. I always wanted to do meaningful work for the public good but was a little unsure about how to go about this. So I have worked in the civil service, for local government and now for 20 years in the third sector in two very different charities.

Which Brian Cox do you prefer?

I occasionally tread the boards at the Citizens Theatre, so it has to be the shouty one. Plus I know much less about science than I should.

Stuart Callison is the chief executive of St Andrews First Aid, Scotland’s only dedicated first aid charity which aims to provide everyone in the country with the highest standards in lifesaving skills