CEO Roundup: Discussions, Decisions and Arts and Crafts
Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home Interim CEO, Lindsay Fyffe-Jardine, shares the highs and lows of a very difficult week for the Home.
Monday 4th May
I’m not sure about anyone else out there but I might be detecting that I’m reaching my limit on technology in my life…its early in the morning and I’m collecting my thoughts for the week ahead over a cup of tea with BBC news on in the background. All I can see in my diary is an endless sea of zoom. While this is in fact exciting in many ways because I’m still able to reach and connect with so many I’m also aware that my capacity for technology versus the idea of being in the same room as another person that’s not my husband and daughter (and of course cats!) is beginning to wear thin. I doubt I’m alone but needs must, so I jump feet first into my working week and don’t look back! Monday holds lots of decisions and steps for me to take but it also involves the excitement of planning out how we will be able to begin to partial open again to be able to rehome. Without the government specifics it’s difficult to fully understand what will be possible but we can make sure that our processes, staff and customer safety can be planned ahead. The idea of those first dog and cat connections being made again gets me so excited to get to that point.
Tuesday 5th May
Tuesday starts off low key in the usual PJ sofa ritual of my daughter’s breakfast chatter, and I attempt with my terrible crafting skills to make a castle out of a delivery box. For anyone who knows me I’m not that way inclined on the handy craft side of things-I don’t own a glue gun or have the patience for cross stitch. I certainly won’t be invited to work for Blue Peter but to my delight my daughter is so happy with it she’s already grabbing her babies and other figurines to play in the castle. So, a morning spent playing make believe and in no time, I’m pulling on my trusty green fleece and on my way down to the Home to see the team and catch up on the dogs and cats in our care. I had forgotten how nice it is to have 15minutes alone in the car, how my standards have lowered! An amazing afternoon spent at the Home hearing about how many of them are signed off for rehoming as soon as we can open our doors again. My heart melts over some of the new ones who have come to us in the past week and it breaks over the decisions we’ll have to make for others. Animal welfare work never comes without its heartache but to see the unconditional love that all of these dogs and cats get from the staff on site is so moving.
Wednesday 6th May
What’s that buzzing sound? A constant whirring in the background….not to worry its just my brain jumping from the here and now of today and the conversations I’m having to the weeks and months ahead of decisions and forward planning. It’s the never-ending CEO time hop! I’m ‘zooming’ through life today from call to call listening, taking in, trying to boost those working so hard and bring others up to speed on where our organisation is at and what it needs to do in the coming weeks ahead.
There’s daily chatter about lockdown measures changing and what this will look like across the devolved nations. Something that I feel as a CEO for a Scottish charity can cause so many difficulties in interpreting what Westminster says versus what Holyrood will decree. The news on our national death toll as the UK is sobering and shameful and my thoughts turn to all those individuals that the number makes up. I know that as an organisation we have done everything we possibly can do to protect our team and make sure we play our part as a responsible employer with animals also to take care of.
Thursday 7th May
Why does today feel like Friday when its cruelly not? Perhaps my body and my brain have reached a maximum decision-making threshold. This morning is our board risk sub-committee meeting and its an opportunity to review the CEO’s friend which is the organisational risk register. A document that has dramatically shifted since the crisis hit and has become a key component of weighing up all the challenges and daily changing priorities. It makes for difficult discussions because in reality we’re in a fight with an enemy that changes face and may reappear in different guises in months and years to come. But there’s no marvel side kick hero to jump in and save the day.
We’re at sea, its stormy and all I can do is stand at the front of the ship and steer it through this with perseverance, compassion, rational thought and a determination to save this organisation no matter what’s coming. Our upcoming board meeting will be one of the most challenging in the Home’s history, considering since world war two this is the biggest threat it has faced. The expertise, hard work and commitment of the team at the Home gives us the best chance that we have. Something that not every CEO can say I realise that. While I may be the captain of this ship it doesn’t take just one person to make the ship work and the team at the Home couldn’t be a better crew.
Friday 8th May
It’s a bank holiday for most but I’m working this morning to get some important papers across the finish line, namely to the trustees for their review. The sun is beginning to break through, and I feel I can begin to see that a nice afternoon will form. My daughters blow up dinosaur paddling pool (yes, these things do exist much to my delight) has arrived and I’m going to relish the joy of seeing her slip and slide around like the true water baby that she is! I subscribe to my team to find little moments of joy in the things around us. Whether that’s work or in our personal lives. I will throw myself into this fun afternoon ahead with all the joy that can be found in my favourite sound in the world-my daughter laughing.
I find Friday’s often a day of reflection for me, what has been and what is to come. What I can control and what I can’t. The latter often more than the former. The thing that never changes though is our mission, the clarity of it and the heartbreaking need I know that will be in the months ahead. If the business analysts are right and we’re heading towards a recession then I know what that means; more people unable to care for their pets. We’ll be there for them and turn those heartbreaks into as many second chances as we can. Tune in next week for what lies head for the team, our dogs and cats during this crisis.