Interview with Academy Manager Jenny McCarthy.

Ahead of The Academy kicking off in just a couple of weeks time, we talk to Jenny, who has just been appointed Academy Manager.

Photos by Yulia Skulskikh

The Circle Academy is a practical and educational training programme for individuals interested in running a ‘More Than Profit’ business. The programme is open to anyone who wants to create positive, social or environmental change in a sustainable and commercially viable way.

When did you join The Circle, tell us about your journey with The Circle?

I joined The Circle in 2019 after working for Kirsty’s other business, ACK Third Sector Consultants CIC. I had worked at ACK since leaving school in 2014 and had a lot of experience working with third sector organisations in different areas including marketing, so I initially came to The Circle to support with the marketing side of things. I then transitioned to working with Kirsty on the consultancy services after ACK merged with The Circle. Using the knowledge I’d built through the consultancy, I supported on every cohort of the Academy through developing the resources, running 1-to-1s with candidates and even judging on a pitching contest. It felt like a natural progression for me to then move into the Academy Manager role.

Why did The Academy come about?

The idea for the Academy came mostly from the experiences of Kirsty and our consultancy team. It became clear that there are a lot of people in the sector with passion and great ideas for addressing societal issues, but not enough business experience to make those ideas reach their full potential. The Academy was set up to combat this.

You get to see a lot of ‘eureka’ moments on the Academy where something really clicks and things start to fall into place; I love that.

Jenny, Academy Manager

How long has The Academy been running and how many people has it supported?

The Circle Academy was first launched in 2019 and has now supported 30 individuals over 4 cohorts. We’ve had a real mix of candidates, with people from all different industries and at all stages of development.

What’s been your highlight of The Academy?

It’s too hard for me to pick one specific moment if I’m being honest! My favourite part of every cohort has always been when they come to the end of the 12 weeks and you can see how much they’ve developed not only their knowledge but their confidence and self-belief. We recently had an alumni catch up call and there were people from each cohort there; it was amazing hearing how much things have progressed for them since taking part in the programme.

What are you most excited about whilst running The Academy?

Mostly I’m excited to hear all of the candidates’ ideas and seeing how they evolve while they’re on the programme. You get to see a lot of ‘eureka’ moments on the Academy where something really clicks and things start to fall into place; I love that.

Why should people join The Academy?

If they have an idea but don’t know how to take it to fruition, or if they’re running something and have hit a wall, the Academy is a great opportunity. The knowledge shared on the programme comes from a place of experience rather than pure theory. The Circle and our guest speakers have all ‘got the t-shirt’ on the topics we cover. We’ll always be honest and have the difficult conversations about what’s not working with someone’s project. And our candidates become part of a community who can support each other and collaborate on projects.

The Circle, has received funding from The Scottish Government to provide 25 spaces on the next cohort. The grant has been awarded to allow individuals from three target groups to take part in The Circle Academy.

We are looking for people from the following groups and you must fit at least one of the criteria below;

  • those from or working in rural communities.
  • people whose business is in the environmental space.
  • young people under 30.

Leave a Reply