Kerryanne Wilde is the CEO of Community Emergency Response Team UK (CERT-UK). She joined the Army in 1990 and left in 2002 and moved into the licensed and restaurant trade. She now runs her own training and consulting business as well as a very successful charity.
As Kerryanne was a National Winner in the NFP & Social Enterprise category of the FL National Awards 2017, we caught up with her for a quick chat.
What inspired you to pursue a career in Crisis, Emergency and Disaster?
I ended up in the Crisis, Emergency and Disaster voluntary sector just by pure chance, situation and circumstance. I have always volunteered in one role or another but never to the extent which I do now. Being the founder of a charity, which was born out of such a major disaster of the 2015 Cumbrian Floods is extremely rewarding and humbling.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
Best: The relief on the face of those who approach you for support when they see how much we can help them and that it is at no cost to themselves.
Worst: The hoops and red tape which those in Crisis, Emergency or Disaster have to jump through to get the right help and support.
Can you give us examples of any common stereotypes you come across as a successful female leader?
- Who is your boss?
- What does your husband think?
- You must be on a lot of money.
- The flood and rescue industry is male-dominated what makes you think that you can achieve what the men have?
Who was your earliest role model? How and why did this person impact your life?
My Grannie (Isobel Polson), who has sadly passed away. She worked hard, in various roles but one was in the Whiskey Bonds in Edinburgh. She worked her way up the tiers of management from the factory floor upwards. She said that nothing is given freely, we must all work hard in life to gain respect, trust, understanding and knowledge. This will then mould and shape us into the individual which people see daily, but being truthful and honest must run as a thread throughout all aspects if we are to be the best version of ourselves.
What are the important decisions that you face daily as a leader in your organisation?
- That the volunteers and staff are happy in their roles and that they have the right training, tools and equipment to carry out their roles effectively.
- Where the next round of funding is coming from to pay for the overheads and running of the organisation.
- How we will react to the next Crisis, Emergency or Disaster.
- What organisation or individual will we have to battle with to get the right support and help for those in need?
How do you maintain your and your team's daily motivation and inspiration despite obstacles, pushback or setbacks?
I have always lead by the front. What I mean by this is that I will never ask a member of my team to carry out a role which I wouldn’t do myself. For example; I have cleaned the office/warehouse toilets and swept and deck scrubbed the staff room floor. I have cleaned out homes which have had water still in them after a month of sitting.
We have a weekly cake. I bake every Tuesday or Wednesday and take homemade cake into the warehouse.
In the winter I make hearty soups so that those volunteering/working for us always have a hot meal.
Our Bi-monthly volunteer/staff meetings make sure that everyone has a say in how we take the organisation forward.
I do not lock myself away in a separate office. I sit in the main office area and we can bounce ideas off one another.
What advice would you give emerging leaders?
Take time to get to know who you have working for you and with you. By understanding who you have around you, will give you the knowledge to call on that expertise and experience.
Being friendly and approachable is all part and parcel of being a leader but also the fairness and firm nature needs to shine through too!
What resources would you recommend to those looking to become better leaders?
I would say from my perspective we need to understand who works for us and with us. These may be the elderly and retired or those who are financially struggling. Link with charities who support those who work for you. Understand their family backgrounds. It can’t and shouldn’t all be about money. Value your staff/volunteers and you will reap the rewards.
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