SSE’s busiest summer ever: and where we are now

It’s been a fascinating, and busy summer, for SSE. In
addition to the franchises in Cornwall and Sydney (that started delivering in
the spring), SSE Devon, Hampshire and Yorkshire & Humber have each
recruited two staff, and are now recruiting students for their first programmes
which are set to begin shortly. In addition to helping actively in that
recruitment (an SSE-UK staff member has been on every panel), we’ve also
recruited three new staff ourselves…taking us to the heady heights of 11
centrally! A big welcome to Owusu Akoto (Sustainability Officer, focusing on
financial sustainability of the network SSEs), Cynthia Quek (Programme Officer,
focusing on supporting the London programmes and on supporting SSE Fellows),
and Emma Houston (PA to CEO /Office Admin, focusing on getting us into shape, and
managing the boss’s diary). Delighted to have them on board.

We spent 2 days recruiting the 3 roles, involving the whole
team, and taking a different approach which involved observing candidates
whilst they were engaged in group tasks (on day 1) and then having brief
interviews and practical tasks (on day 2); the whole team were involved in
observing and in the decision-making process, which has certainly led to an
easier integration and induction for the new arrivals. It’s also allowed us to
feel confident that we are recruiting those who can do the job and add to the
team, rather than those who can do CVs and interviews….on the flipside, the
candidates also got to know us all better, and sense whether it was the right
kind of place for them. It’s certainly the only interview process where I saw
candidates say they’d really enjoyed it, then swapping e-mails and going for a
drink afterwards! But also tough to go from nearly 300 applications to 3
people. [thanks to Happy for the inspiration / advice]

So: more SSEs, more staff, more social entrepreneurs
supported; and more social impact achieved (and to be achieved); all good news.
And, looking ahead, the next few months should be interesting too: we are
currently organising what will be by far our biggest SSE residential ever
(about 150+ social entrepreneurs)…which is effectively a small conference
now. Should be a fabulous and exciting few days of networking and learning down
in Dartington in mid-October. And we will be helping the new SSEs recruit their
first cohorts of students throughout the autumn, as well as working closely
with them to ensure their sustainability into years 2, 3, 4, 5 etc. We’ll also
be welcoming our new SSE Australia CEO, Benny Callaghan, over for a full
induction here in the UK. Oh, and there’s all the programmes already going on
in London, Cornwall, Sydney and elsewhere….

Arguably then, one of SSE’s most successful periods, but
we’re also looking ahead to what may be one of the most challenging times in
terms of available funding, investment and resources. In many ways, our growth
has also led to our biggest challenge: to maintain and sustain where we are
now; to continue to deliver the highest quality support; to achieve outcomes
that we achieved with half the number of people going through programmes; and
to build on what we’ve achieved, in new locations (East, North East, Wales) and
in a different political and economic environment.

Challenging but exciting times ahead, methinks…..we'll keep you informed!

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