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Leadership Worth Sharing: Ruth Marks, former CEO of WCVA

Welcome to Leadership Worth Sharing, a podcast in which ACEVO chief executive Jane Ide chats with civil society leaders about their professional experiences, challenges, wellbeing, and their journeys in the sector.

In this episode Jane Ide talks to Ruth Marks, former CEO of WCVA. This was Ruth’s first ever podcast, and just a couple of weeks before she retired. They talked about what we can learn from Wales when it comes to the relationship between government and civil society, the importance of diversity in boards, and where she finds hope. 

Transcript

Jane Ide  00:00

So Ruth, tell us a little bit about about yourself, about your career, about how did you come to be the chief executive WCVA. Tell us a little bit about that role if you could, just to start us off.

Ruth Marks  00:11

Okay, thanks, Jane. Well, I’ve worked for over 40 years, hence building up to retirement fairly soon, across voluntary, public and private sectors. But I’ve always had either voluntary activity in my life, or had the privilege of being employed in the voluntary sector. I actually worked for WCVA in the early 1990s, in a job that was called training and conference officer, my post grad qualification was in personnel management. And so I had a variety of different roles in a variety of different sectors. Sometimes my job title was personnel officer, sometimes my job title was training advisor, and sometimes it was combination thereof. And so when I saw the job called training and conference officer, Wales Council voluntary action in the 1990s, I thought, well, that sounds interesting. I’ll have a go at that, applied was successful, was thrilled to join the organisation, and worked for a few years, enjoyed every moment of it, and applied for a promotion in another part of the sector, although a slightly different part of the sector applied for a promotion in business in the community. And going from a job title of training and conference officer to Deputy Director. Well, of course, I mean, that just sounded amazing, you know, and so I applied for a role as Deputy Director for business in the community in Wales was successful. That, you know, that was, that was great. And I enjoyed my period of time in business in the community, had lots of opportunities there. But it was during that time that I then applied for my first ever Chief execs role, and that was in 1999. When devolution came to, came to Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, I think I’ve got my dates right for Scotland, Northern Ireland, certainly in Wales 1999. And several jobs opened up because several people who were the first ever elected assembly members to the National Assembly for Wales came from the voluntary sector and certainly the employment market opened up a wee bit because several people were moving into different roles. And I applied for several jobs and was successful for one and became the chief executive of a women’s economic development agency called chwarae teg, which means fairplay in English. And from there, I moved to the RNIB, I was interested to be involved with an organisation that had obviously work across the whole of the UK, but I was the director for the RNIB in Wales. And that was a fantastic job not only working with colleagues and volunteers in Wales, but then having the understanding of how any UK organisation works and whether or not a UK organisation completely understands and gets devolution or not. I was fortunate that the RNIB did and pretty much and was especially helped by the fact that my direct line manager was actually based in Scotland. So he really got it because that’s where he lived and worked as well, as well as having responsibilities across the UK. And from that role, I applied for and was absolutely overwhelmed, to be appointed to become the first older people’s commissioner in the world and set up that public office, a very unusually constituted organisation of being a corporation sole. It’s a very, very strange construct, but set that office up with amazing support internally and externally and had that public appointment role for four years and moved back then into housing. I’d worked in housing before, but was always tracking the WCVA role, I’d been on the board of WCVA had been a trustee. Tracked when this job might be advertised and when it might not be advertised, and absolutely knew that I wanted to apply for it. I think sometimes in life any of us can want things too much. So I was a bit afraid maybe of wanting it too much. Got shortlisted. And then had a very interesting interview process, which involved presenting to around 30 people, most of whom I knew pretty well, which was not easy. But was then fortunate enough to be offered the post in 2014 took up the post in 2015. And in actual fact, having spent now just over nine years as Chief Exec of WCVA. It’s the longest that I’ve worked anywhere. That is a not so short, but I run through aspects of working life since, over the last 30 years.

Jane Ide  04:53

There’s so much in that I want to pick out but particularly… well I suppose the first thing is for the benefit of all listeners, probably… Can I just ask you to say… maybe… and  I know how hard it is to do in one line or two lines to sum up an infrastructure organisation, but can you just say a little bit more about what WCVA actually is and, and what the purpose of the organisation is?

Ruth Marks  05:16

Yeah, so WCVA stands for Wales council for voluntary action. We’re celebrating our 90th year here in 2024. And we are the national membership body for the voluntary sector in Wales. We are similar to and different from our sister councils NCVO in England, SCVO in Scotland and NICVA in Northern Ireland. We are a membership body. And we are also very closely involved with the county voluntary councils or councils voluntary service in Wales, in that we have a core funding arrangement with Welsh Government, which is channelled through WCVA. And so therefore, I am the Accountable officer, to Welsh Government, for a core grant not only to our organisation, but also to organisations across Wales that work at local authority level.

Jane Ide  06:16

One thing I’d really love to just pull out from, from what you’ve just described about your career journey, is that point about, this was the job you really wanted. You really, really wanted it. And I think that’s always fascinating. There, there are some, there are not many times in our lives, when we can see that single job that we want more than anything else, I suspect for most people. So I’m curious. So when you got it and now, looking back at it, you know, nearly 10 years in? Was it what you wanted it to be? Was it what you hoped it would be? Or was it different in some other way?

Ruth Marks  06:53

Yeah, I think it’s been mostly what I expected and hoped for, in the main. There have been, it’s interesting at this precise moment in time that I’m going through electronic files, and also paper files, to think what might be useful to the next chief executive who’s just been appointed to hand over as sort of like a mini treasure chest or set of files. And a lot of stuff is obviously not relevant anymore. But I’ve found the notes that I made in preparation for the the presentation, I gave for the interview. And it’s very interesting, looking at some of the hopes and ambitions or ideas that I had, some of which we have tried and have worked, some of which we have tried and have not worked. And some of which perhaps we still haven’t got around to trying. Because the time hasn’t been right. And I think people often talk about, you know, what would you say to your younger self? And what would you say? What would you say to yourself if this was day one of the job? And what will I be saying to Lindsay, who’s been appointed as the next Chief Exec. And certainly one of the things that I know I said to myself on several occasions, and I did some of the time, but I certainly didn’t do nearly regularly enough in terms of I wish I had sort of angle is the very regular visits out or conversations with members and partners, the chance to go and visit and actually physically be and obviously there’s a time of my in my role, which is both pre COVID during COVID. And since the COVID pandemic, and certainly pre COVID. But most definitely since I have really, really valued the time that I’ve spent and the conversations I’ve had with either other chief execs or other volunteers or other people involved in charities or social enterprises, either online but even better, of course, face to face in other parts of Wales or other parts of the UK, because I learned so much. It’s it’s an adrenaline shot in the arm. And we all need that on a regular basis. Because the things that perhaps have been a bit more time consuming and things that you can’t absolutely predict are when as chief exec, you need to focus on internal either, you know, resource related matters or governance related matters that take time that take thinking time and take you away from some of the outward facing buzzy stuff because you need to do the, you know, the groundwork or the housekeeping or the negotiations or the difficult conversations that come with the responsibility of these particular posts.

Jane Ide  09:58

I think it’s again this is something we could probably talk about for hours. Because I’m reflecting as I’m listening to you. So, my time in the sector has very much been in the sort of second or third tier, membership body, infrastructure, the language is awful. We’ve never found the right language for it. But I think I think people know what we mean. Yeah, the, one of the challenges, I think, in running a membership organisation or an infrastructure body is, is that you can’t, unlike a children’s services, charity, or an organisation that’s working on the frontline, so to speak, you can’t just walk down the corridor and see the work that’s being done, you can’t see the impact that’s being had. But I think one of the real privileges of leading a membership organisation is you can pick up the phone, go out and make a visit, go and see the people that you are there to support and see from them, how the work you’re doing is helping them achieve what they’re there to achieve. Can’t you. And that’s that’s that’s a real joy, isn’t it?

Ruth Marks  10:56

Absolutely. And certainly, when you’re, when we’re looking at, you know, writing the foreword, or proofreading annual reports, or, you know, reports that go to funders and so on. I’m constantly, you know, amazed and flabbergasted. I shouldn’t be because it’s an amazing, fantastic staff team that that work at WCVA. But the most recent annual report that was presented to our AGM last November, there are certain sections of that with both staff and Trustee takeover sections. With with staff talking about it’s a particular highlight of a piece of work that they’d been involved in in the previous year, or a piece of work that a trustee had advised us on or guidances on. And seeing work experiences through other colleagues eyes, as well as, as you say, Jane members eyes as well is phenomenal. I wouldn’t expect any Chief Exec of any organisation to know absolutely everything that’s going on in their organisations all the time. We trust our colleagues, we delegate, they manage upwards, usually very successfully. But it’s always great when people tell me when colleagues tell me, you know, we’ve just had this thing happen. And it went well, or we just had this thing happen. And it wasn’t brilliant, but we’ve learned this or that from it. And and that’s that’s just fantastic.

Jane Ide  12:29

Having said that, and you’ve touched on this already, you are at the point of stepping away from this job that you I suspect really loved for the last decade. You’re stepping away from WCVA, at the end of April, you’re retiring. So not just stepping away from the job. But I guess in that sense, stepping away from the sector, or at least in terms of paid employment terms. How are you feeling about that? And how did you make that transition from thinking about I’m here and I’m doing this job to actually it’s time for me to start handing over the baton to somebody else?

Ruth Marks  13:05

It was a combination of some personal and professional stuff. So the personal stuff is that I’m 62 and a bit, I’ll be 62 and a half, I suppose by the time I finish, my birthday is in August, and my husband is 11 years older than me, we have, we really enjoy travelling. And at this point in time, we’re in good health. And I am fortunate enough to have been able to have saved sufficiently to try and balance the gap between finishing work at 62 and a half and being able to draw a state pension at 67. So watch with interest how waspy colleagues getting on, because that’s in my view, a complete nightmare. But I am I am not in that situation. And I am very appreciative of that. And have been thinking on a personal level probably for just over a year, as regards when might be the right time. So thinking that the right time might be in 2023 or might be in 2024, but certainly the latest 2025. And then on a professional from a professional perspective, WCVA, we always knew that 2023 was going to be a pivotal year for the organisation. Because a particular piece of work that we’re involved with was going to end we weren’t quite sure what if anything would come in its place. We ended up having to do what for us was a very big reorganisation, reducing the staff cohort from 90 to 60. So for an organisation the size of 90 go down to 60. Obviously big big chunk of change. We wanted those who were staying to stay well, we wanted colleagues who were leaving to leave well, we had excellent board and external advice where required. And the fact that we retained IIP standard, at the end of that process gave me additional assurance that they’re not saying they weren’t bumps in the road they were, but that we had done the best job that we possibly could. And we were also securing some other changes in the organisation, which will likely to come through by the autumn. And so I gave active consideration myself and started planning and feel like plotting and planning, if you like, in the sort of spring, summer time I spoke to my chair in the summertime. And his supportive comment straightaway was, have you taken pension advice, Ruth, do you know if you’re definitely gonna say yes, no, I have. Thank you very much. And I also wanted, having been a trustee myself, I wanted to make sure that I was doing each stage of a departure and an exit in the most managed way that I possibly could. And so therefore, I presented a draft recruitment plan, I presented a revised job description, I presented a draft recruitment pack, back in the summer and autumn, for trustees to consider I thought, let’s it’s easier to red pen something than to start with a blank sheet of paper often, and especially when we’re asking volunteers, you know, over and above, who may not have been expecting that bit of work to land in their inboxes. So worked on that during the early autumn and decided with the chair and vice chair that the right time to make the public announcement was our AGM at the end of November. And then we were ready to rock and roll with the recruitment the following week. We considered handing that out to a search agent, we got some prices, and we decided that we could handle it ourselves. And we did handle it ourselves. We had, as I understand it, I had some involvement in being able to chat to people, if they were considering applying. Very much I worked to a script for that. Like this conversation is partly working to a script, I certainly worked with script for that in order to be as even handed as I possibly could of anybody who might be considering applying. And of course, I encouraged, you know, hopefully gave a a positive account of the organisation and the role to encourage people to give it serious consideration. My understanding is that the trustee selection panel, however, had a great pool of candidates to consider. They went through a robust process, which I had advised on but was not part of, and then was thrilled to be told what the unanimous decision was, and an offer my full support. And congratulations to to Lindsay, who will be taking over from me in May.

Ruth Marks  13:19

And we are looking forward to welcoming Lindsay into the world of national infrastructure. I have to say very, very much indeed. But I’m curious because you touched on it there as well, that the having been a trustee. And of course you were a hugely valuable trustee of ACEVO until very recently, for six years, thank you for your service, very much appreciated having you on the board for the time that I’ve been here. But that I suspect gives a slightly different perspective on, it gives us a different perspective on everything that Chief Exec does, doesn’t it? And I would encourage any any chief executive to think about taking a trustee role if they haven’t, because it can be quite transformative. But I’m I’m curious, I suppose given your experience on both sides of the board table. And given that there will be people listening to this who perhaps are not at the age or stage of retirement but who are thinking maybe it’s time I moved on maybe I want to try something different step away from this role, whatever it is, what advice would you give… So given your depths of experience of working with the sector and within the sector, it can be quite a tricky transition to manage count it for a chief executive and knowing when to have that conversation with their chair knowing how much they should have gone down that path before they actually have those conversations on, have you any any thoughts of or words of wisdom on that school?

Ruth Marks  19:00

It’s an interesting one, isn’t it because the world of work has changed so much. And I think the opportunities that we have as employees to be quite focused on what it is that that we’re interested in, what it is that might stretch us that might offer offer us other opportunities, or areas where we believe we can, and this isn’t, I don’t mean this to sound sort of like condescending in any way but where we can serve and be our best and give, be our best selves and give our best and so on. And I said that nine years at WCVA and that you know nine and a bit years at WCVA is the longest I’ve ever worked anywhere. I think throughout my career since I since I left university in 20, 21 years of age. I’ve always looked for jobs after two to three years, maybe. Knowing that it might take a year to make that move, if not longer. And I have I have really enjoyed having a huge variety in my working life, I mean, from the car industry to the construction industry to social housing to a number of voluntary sector roles,  pretty, pretty diverse set of experiences, I think the shortest time I’ve ever worked anywhere is 18 months to two years, and then the longest is nine. And and I think there’s, I think there’s a sweet spot myself between a sort of like a five and a 10 year period. And that you might shift before five years, or you might shift between five and 10. Or you might stay somewhere for 15 or 20 years. I’ve got some very good friends who’ve been with organisations for 20 plus years, and had a variety of different roles, perhaps within those organisations, everybody’s different. And some, some of us have an opportunity to do something different that isn’t necessarily if you’d like, classed as a promotion with a different job title, or more money or whatever else it might be. Keep an open minded and learning new things and exposing yourself to new to new things, has always been the thing that’s given me a buzz. And I think the same would apply to being a trustee for whatever period of time is relevant to that organisation or you know, a committee member or advisory board member, whatever the circumstances are, that in a lot of our settings, people can be trustees for either three or four years and then may stand for reelection or maybe reappointed depending on the on the governance arrangements. And doing something for one period of time. And two periods of time, I think is great. But coming back to your point, as regards, you know, the benefits of having had the opportunity to be a trustee as well as chief executive, I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a trustee of ACEVO. Great organisation to be connected with, I would say that wouldn’t I? I also, of course, had the chance to work with you as a great chief executive, and also Vicky as the previous great chief executive. And that’s been interesting as weel, seeing two, you know, really confident, professional, fantastic women leaders in that role has been inspirational for me over the first three years in the secondary years. However, the sort of timing timings of it work. And I think that as a trustee, if anybody thinking about either being a trustee for the first time or other trustee opportunities, there is a really important point, maybe some stuff that might be similar to your day job, and some stuff that might be different. And so for me, the difference is that ACEVO operates, you know, across England and Wales. And then it’s got different links with colleagues in Scotland, Northern Ireland. So if you like, that gets me a bit out of my Welsh bubble. And that’s great. It also gave me the chance to meet other chief executives from a wildly diverse network, which is obviously drawn from a ACEVO’s membership, which is fantastic, and is almost like that flipside of going out on visits, because an ACEVO board meeting can almost be 12 visits all in one because you’re chatting maybe, to somebody who’s involved with perhaps another infrastructure organisation, or with a social enterprise body or the, from the hospice movement, or from a mental health charity, or from, you know, a nationally recognised charity name, or whatever it might be. And so that’s that, you know, we all learn in those settings. And I think if something doesn’t give you, either really interest you or intrigue you or give you joy, then quite frankly, life’s too short, because life’s hard enough in terms of the jobs that we’re doing, doing something over and above. And I think you chair, the board at reach volunteering, I think don’t you.

Jane Ide  23:52

I do, yes.

Ruth Marks  23:53

And I can imagine I can imagine that brings you joy, as well as you put time in and you think about it, and you and you work with the chief exec and so on. But I think it’s being involved as a trustee giving your own voluntary time, hopefully, to some, you know, of some use. As the chief exec, you realise how much effort the exec team put into papers, how much effort the exec team put into planning for meetings. How frustrating disappointing, I might even go far as to say not quite, you know, maybe anger making as regards that it might be for other staff, and especially possibly, junior or middle management members of staff possibly, you know, blood sweat and tears into reports. That because of where they are on the agenda, yes, that’s noted. And and there’s no feedback or there’s no, there’s no commentary, you know, either agreement or disagreement or question. And so I think trustees you know, reading papers, sending questions in advance, giving acknowledgement of the effort that goes in to papers and keeping that whole governance arrangement, fresh and with purpose is really important. And I think when you when you’ve sat in both seats you realise, don’t always remember it, don’t always practice it, but you do realise it.

Jane Ide  25:15

I think that’s absolutely true. And certainly I’ve heard from many of our members and people I know in my network who who’ve commented on how much they value having at least one trustee who is of the sector, which of course is not often the case in so many of our charity boards, and who’s at that chief exec level, who, who they know, kind of get what the day job is about. And equally, I think, certainly, for me, I took my first trustee role in I think about 2021, I think it was probably right, and because I’m a trustee of the access foundation as well. I found it absolutely transformative in one really simple way. Because I think until that point, not because of anything anybody have ever said or done. But there is something about the nature of the relationship between executive and non executive that is almost designed to be oppositional and it can feel as though you’re going into the Dragon’s Den, and sitting on the other side of the board table, I literally came away thinking, right, so they’re not actually trying to pull the rug from under me. They’re simply asking the questions that they need to ask because I was then asking those questions. And that really did make it feel like a very different relationship. And I think we took a huge amount of time at ACEVO about that dynamic. Between the board, the executive between the chair and the chief executive, it is so crucial. And when it’s good, it is magic, and it can really make an organisation fly. So the more we can all do to invest in that relationship, the better, I think. But there’s something else I wanted to pick up with you. And we’ve touched on it a little bit already. You said something just then about about being in your Welsh bubble, and how coming to your ACEVO board meetings helped you come out of that. I’ve known you for a long time long, long before I came to ACEVO. And one of the things you have been magnificent in is reminding people who are perhaps not working in Wales or Scotland or Northern Ireland, that not everything is about Westminster. And not everything is about England. And that devolution has some very real impacts. And I think having very briefly worked in an organisation, that did walk across the whole of the UK. I’m a little aware of that. So I’m more aware of it than I would have been, but I’m particularly curious, given that we are in an election year, in Westminster, and at some point, you know, we’re going to get that result in whatever that whatever that looks like. And given that Wales particularly, I think, has always given this sense of being in a very different space should we say politically. I’m really interested to know what you think we should be learning from the Wales experience, as we head into an election, perhaps post election, possibly with a different administration? Possibly not who knows? What are the lessons we can learn about how government and civil society can work together effectively and with impact?

Ruth Marks  28:08

Really interesting timing of this conversation, because at the end of last week, I was able to be involved with a four nations Civil Society Conference, which was focused on strengthening relationships with Westminster and levers for influence in Westminster. And the audience comprised academics, civil rights lawyers, and charity leaders from across the UK. But in actual fact, the minority were from England, and the majority were from Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, the speakers and the audience engaged with what’s different across the UK and and how best to share experiences. And Wales is the only country in the UK that has got a formalised enshrined in legislation, set of arrangements to enable the voluntary sector to meet with Welsh Ministers and develop work programmes with their officials. And it is my firm belief that unless there is something either enshrined in legislation or in manifestos and then followed up, not necessarily in the first 100 hours or the first 100 days, but not too long thereafter, whereby a formal arrangement, I really, really do believe that unless something is written down and agreed between whoever and has a structure and a construct, where people can be held to account and that there is a formalised relationship, otherwise this I think the sector remains on if you like, on grace and favour and on shaky ground. A compact or whatever it might be called, doesn’t have to be exactly the same. But it would be my strong advice. And I will be doing everything you know, over the next month still, to feed that information through to anybody who might listen. Because I really do think that it’s a way to keep around the table, and we can only be guaranteed guaranteed to be in the room if we have got, in my opinion, if we have got a formal structure to refer to and say…. And with, you know, with that, right with that entitlement with that privilege comes a responsibility, obviously. But if we haven’t got that construct to fall back on, then you’re constantly knocking at the door and going with a bowl like Oliver Twist or whatever, asking for more. It’s not about that, we’re part of the solution. For goodness sake, we know this, we’re constantly we’re thanked, we’re constantly recognised, constantly acknowledge, and, and we wouldn’t want it any other way. And it’s lovely to be valued, but it’s far better and it’s far more impactful. It’s far better on the public purse, quite frankly, if we’re equal. And that that power balance shares a wee bit. And, and co production means what it says on the tin. And that is best done when when we’re around the table before, during and after whatever’s going on.

Jane Ide  31:13

I love your passion on this Ruth, because everything you’re saying, absolutely chimes to me. And I’m, again, there is so much we could we could unpack, we’ll unpack from this before you before you depart to pastures new, I’m absolutely certain because I think I think the fact that you have that experience in Wales of having put in that framework of seeing how it works and see where it perhaps doesn’t work as well as it might. And we have the opportunity to learn from that. And certainly I I’m very aware, being relatively new in the sector, relatively speaking, seven or eight years now. You know, I remember when I first started, people would talk about the compact, they would kind of roll their eyes. And I think there’s a real danger that if we’re not careful, we we slip into as a sector that backward looking of well, of course, it wasn’t really that great because rather than will never might. So now I think that’s that’s really, really interesting. And I’m tempted to ask because I know we’re going to have to finish up talking fairly soon. But obviously, the obvious question is, you mentioned travelling with your husband, what are your plans for retirement? Is there any chance you might stand for public office in any way, shape, or form? No, you’re shaking your head.

Ruth Marks  32:26

No, I don’t think… I’ve signed up for gardening course designing your own edible garden. And I’ve thoroughly enjoyed a couple of adult education classes in that space over the last few weeks, I’m going to be looking out for another choir join because I’ve not sung for a long time. The heated lido that I go to opens up between Easter and October, I’ve had my first outdoor swim in warm water yesterday morning. So I shall be trying to keep fit, sing a bit, garden a bit and plan some travelling. And there’s some local voluntary community projects that I’ve started hearing about and chatting to friends and neighbours about that I’m keen to get stuck into as well. So no committee rooms for quite a while. If indeed ever, doesn’t that sound joyful?

Jane Ide  33:17

It certainly has some something attractive about it. I have to say, but I’m not. I’m not that surprised to hear you mentioned the fact that you might get involved in something voluntary nearby because I suspect it gets into the blood, doesn’t it? And and you can’t just walk away from the sector in the way that perhaps you might if you, if you’re working in it, for example, no, no detriment to those that work in it. But I suspect there’ll always be a part of you that will your heart I suspect will always be with the sector, won’t it?

Ruth Marks  33:50

Most definitely.

Jane Ide  33:51

And you will be greatly missed, I have to say as well, you’ve had a huge impact, probably far more than you realise. And I suspect as you start heading towards, I presume a retirement party of some sort that you will be getting a lot of very warm and very well deserved messages. And and we would absolutely add our thanks and appreciation to you. But before we finish, because I don’t like to finish on a on a sad goodbye. That’s never the way we want to finish something like this. One of the questions I’m always always asking people, when we’re when we’re talking in these sorts of contexts is what gives you hope. What is it that has helped you keep your focus over the past 10 years, all the years of your career working for the public good? What is it that has helped you stay resilient in the tough times and stay hopeful and positive about why we all do this work?

Ruth Marks  34:48

I think a firm belief that we will all come to better answers and better outcomes if we reach out, listen, chat with and engage with people who’ve got different experiences and different hopes and ambitions and trying to constantly learn and stay open to different outlooks on life, and different hopes and different hopes and ambitions. So I think we are a stronger village or town or city or community be that geographic or community of interest. We are a stronger sector, we are a stronger, stronger civil society if we listened to learn from engage with as many people as possible. And in my opinion, none of us ever have all the answers or all the ideas operating just by ourselves, or just with our nearest and dearest or people who are like us, indeed, quite often completely the opposite. And I think that’s one of the things that being, you know, a trustee and a board member in a variety of different settings, but especially at ACEVO. That it’s that diversity of skills and experiences and outlooks on life and ways of approaching things that makes certainly makes a rich discussion certainly creates, you know, different ideas and opportunities. And that combination of circumstances is, in my view, likely to lead to better and more long lasting outcomes for everybody is, I think, what has always given me interest and intrigue. But I’d say also hope as well.

Jane Ide  36:47

That’s a brilliant and very powerful message. Thank you, Ruth, we really appreciate you taking the time, especially at this point to capture your thoughts before you before you depart the sector. And as I said before, you will be hugely missed, but I hope you’ll be staying in touch as well.

Ruth Marks  37:04

Thank you. Thanks very much. Indeed, Jane. It’s been a pleasure. This has been my first podcast recording.

Jane Ide  37:11

I couldn’t be prouder.

Ruth Marks  37:12

Didn’t know how it was gonna be like, but I’ve enjoyed it and interesting to see if anybody else makes any comments. Thanks.

Jane Ide  37:20

I’m sure people will appreciate it enormously. Thank you, Ruth.

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