In this blog our Marketing and Communications Officer, Kate Pickering, interviews our longest standing team member, Jenny.
I’ve been part of The Circle since July, whereas our new Academy Manager has been a part of the team for 7 years. I was really keen to find out all about Jenny McCarthy. She has worked with Kirsty since the Along Came Kirsty (Kirsty’s former consultancy practice) days. Kirsty had told me that Jenny’s story is a fascinating one, I think you might agree…
I would like to know more about Jenny McCarthy – tell me what young Jenny was like?
When I was younger, I was quite shy and quiet. I did well at school for the most part and always liked English, art and history the most. I went through a few ideas of the career I wanted but, in the end, I didn’t find one that really felt right. In the latter stages of high school, I found I was no longer enjoying it which led me to leaving during my fifth year. I never had work during this time aside from some work experience in a nursery that I really enjoyed. I left with standard grades and one higher qualification in English.
What happened after school?
After leaving school I went through several months of being unemployed and lost. I had no idea what to do with myself and my mental health took a dip as a result. I applied for lots of jobs but had no experience so was unsuccessful. At one point I investigated a career in social care but decided it wasn’t for me.
How did you get to know Kirsty Thomson The Circle’s Founder & CEO?
After months of no luck with jobs I got a call from Skills Development Scotland who directed me to an employability scheme called the Toolbox Project through Craigowl Communities. Through this I met Jacqui Gray who arranged interviews with a few organisations that were offering work placements. One of these was ACK, Kirsty’s first business. This is how I first started working for Kirsty.
What did you start off doing?
Initially, I worked for Kirsty as an Admin Assistant in ACK, taking on tasks such as collating press articles and organising both physical and digital files. Though it also involved a myriad of more random tasks such as my stint as the mascot for a charity fundraising campaign; this saw me visiting schools and nurseries in a rather fetching monster onesie! Eventually I developed and my role changed into a Marketing Officer.
ACK eventually merged into The Circle, what were your thoughts at the time?
I was excited to be honest! Kirsty had spoken about setting up something like The Circle for a long time and by that point I knew that when she sets her mind to something, it usually happens. Merging the two businesses was the right decision and I was happy to move into The Circle having already seen the impact it was having.
What have you been doing within The Circle, how have your roles changed?
I’ve actually had the chance to develop in a lot of roles at The Circle. Initially, I remained in a marketing role. Because of what I’d learned throughout my time with ACK. I later developed into a role on the consultancy team where I supported during the development and running of the Academy from the outset and worked closely with a number of candidates to support them. So, moving into my current role as Academy Manager, felt like a natural progression.
How did you feel when you were promoted to Academy Manager?
A bit nervous but excited. There were lots to do so I had to take a running start into the role, but I’ve been involved in one way or another from the beginning of the programme, so I knew what was needed. I’ve always loved working with candidates on the Academy and getting to see how they progress so ultimately it was a no-brainer to accept the role.
What aspirations do you have for The Academy?
Big picture: I want the Academy to be a far-reaching programme that develops people and organisations from all over the world and ultimately to change the face of the sector. I’d like there to be a whole team running the programme and working with candidates, speakers, supporters and funders.
What do you love about The Circle?
The people. Not to get too sentimental, but it really is an amazing group of folks that I get to work with from the staff and volunteers to our clients and even just people who visit the hub. Especially the staff, I know that no matter what kind of mood I’m in someone is going to make me laugh or smile and I can come to anyone if I have a problem. There really are not many workplaces like this.
What are your dreams going forward?
That’s a hard one! I’m really enjoying working on the Academy, so I’d love to keep developing the programme and continue working with all the interesting and inspiring people who come through it.
Is there anything you would like to say to Kirsty or anyone at The Circle?
Just that it’s a pleasure working with everyone and I’m really glad that I’ve ended up here. And thank you to Kirsty for being such a supportive boss that believes in everyone’s potential.
The Academy is The Circle’s online social entrepreneur training programme for those interested in running a ‘More Than Profit’ organisation. We take applications all year round, you can find out more about the programme over here.