In conversation… Caroline Bysh

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Our first conversation in the series features Caroline Bysh, the Director of Marketing, Digital and Communications at SRUC.

What are the most important attributes of successful leaders today?

That’s a very interesting question. I think the skills that leaders have needed over the last few years have seen a rapid shift. The disconnected, demanding and ‘whatever I say goes’ leader has become outdated and compassion, empathy and humility have certainly come to the fore.

I’ve always been a heart-centred leader and as the world stood still during lockdown, these attributes took centre stage for me. Given that hybrid working has the potential to blur the lines between home and work life more than before, the importance of personal and professional boundaries – and supporting people to put those in place – is a key part of compassionate leadership for me.

Cohesion in the teams and organisations that we lead is at the heart of how everyone comes together, and trust is a critical part of that. I am a firm believer in leaders showing their vulnerabilities – we are not robots, and our colleagues need to see our humanity in a way that builds mutual trust and care. In my experience, these are the roots of high-performing teams. This is critical now and I hope this remains so following the pandemic.

What qualities (if any) are lacking among today’s leaders?

Honesty and integrity come straight to mind. It’s challenging not to make generalisations here; there’s so much in the news regarding poor and unaccountable leadership. I think what is most noticeable, and equally what can cause the most damage to a leader, is a lack of integrity.

When I think about leadership roles in the public sector, for example, these qualities are critical to me. You must be trustworthy and transparent as much as possible and stick to your word. If not, we risk preventing good people from stepping forward as leaders because they see some systems as corrupt, toxic and unstable. It makes me want to take a trip to Westminster and fix things!

What makes you most proud?

Professionally, it is always the people. When I see my team collaborating, being creative, enjoying their work and delivering results at their fullest potential, that’s where leadership is the most rewarding for me. What makes them proud, makes me proud!

What is the most important risk you took and why?

I’m not a natural risk-taker and I do like to have a plan. However, my line of work means you’ve got to strike a balance of being prepared, and ready to think on your feet as well.  

One risk that’s associated with a difficult time was when I was on maternity leave with my first child. During this period, I was made redundant from a position I loved and was good at. This took me a good couple of years to recover from; I felt that I had lost all value and agency in my career.

Many senior leaders admit to imposter syndrome and I am no different – my first fear at that time was that I would never be employed again, so the easy thing would’ve been to go for another role straight away. But I didn’t.

The risk I took was to set up my own consultancy business to keep my brain active and allow time to heal, as well as work with some great clients. The risk paid off because I was able to be more flexible around my children, rebuild my confidence and motivate myself to think beyond the career trajectory I originally had in mind.

This taught me there’s always a way to make a living if you are willing to take a risk, to stretch yourself, and have a great network around you. This journey landed my first executive-level role.

What is the difference in progressing from senior management to executive level?

This is my first executive role and I’ve been in it for 3.5 years now. What I will say is that the creative, ‘inspirer’ personality types can have a tendency to want to ‘fix stuff’ straight away. With that temperament comes a risk of overload and even more so at this level. So how you manage things is different. I now factor in more guilt-free time to look after myself – I don’t carry any responsibilities or work during this time, it’s purely for me. I switch off completely, whether it be swimming, reading or just being peaceful. This has been a significant learning curve in my career so far.

You tend to land senior management roles through experience, but an executive-level position is much more stretching. Becoming a specialist in a particular field and growing into a more generalist, ‘T-shaped’ leader takes time, and with that you can feel a loss of identity as you delegate more of the specialist work to others and look at an organisation more holistically.

Attitudes, behaviours, and being a role model are vital; people look up to you and are watching. Safe spaces are required in this type of role as you are constantly being observed and unfortunately, even in 2022, some senior women can still feel that they are being evaluated and judged more harshly than their male counterparts. 

The shift from senior management to executive level really is thrilling, but it can be draining. It’s not so much the pressure, but intensity. You’ve got to make the right decisions as a leadership team, stand by those decisions together, and be able to communicate these properly whilst seeking to inspire and challenge those looking to you for leadership. I want to be valued and remembered for those sorts of behaviours.

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If you’d like to speak to us about your journey to leadership, growing your team, or even switching careers, please get in touch on 03303 359 818 today. Thank you. 

SCOTT CAITHNESS

SENIOR CONSULTANT - MARKETING

Scott started his career working for one of the leading Advertising & Comms agencies in Edinburgh where he spent 7 years before moving in to recruitment in 2011. As such, he is well-networked in the Marketing & Comms space across Scotland. With a friendly and consultative approach, Scott is genuinely passionate about providing a positive journey to both candidates and clients alike and believes communication plays a big part in this.  A “thinking-outside-the-box recruiter”, he is known for helping candidates portray the best version of themselves and helping clients find talent for those hard to fill roles.

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Communication Lead

We’re a passionate and professional team who thrive in issue-rich environment and we’re looking to add a Communication Lead to our fast-growing team. You’ll be a trusted advisor to clients across several sectors in all aspects of communication, external affairs, marketing and issues management. Coming from an agency or consultancy environment, at Account Director level or above, you’ll report directly to the Managing Director and be responsible for a small and busy multi-disciplinary team. You’ll have first-class project management skills, be solutions-driven and excellent commercial acumen too. Alongside the senior team, you’ll work to drive the strategic growth of Aspect.

Your core duties will include:

  • Working with the MD to develop and deliver growth strategies 
  • Attracting and retaining profitable clients across a range of sectors 
  • Leading the creation and execution of strategic communication programmes
  • Inspiring, leading and developing multi-disciplinary teams
  • Developing strong relationships with clients, colleagues and associates
  • Producing high quality pitches and proposals to secure new business 
  • Curating, nurturing and managing a team of talented associates.

You’ll be a skilled communicator, interested and knowledgeable about the key issues shaping the external environment. In addition, to be considered for this role, you must be able to demonstrate:

  • 7+ years of senior leadership experience within an agency or consultancy
  • Experience in Energy, Renewables, Financial Services or Life Sciences would be very desirable
  • Outstanding writing skills and the ability to engage and excite an audience
  • An impressive track record of client attraction, retention and growth 
  • The ability to thrive fast-paced environment managing multiple projects simultaneously
  • Strong influencing and leadership skills to motivate and inspire those around you
  • Excellent planning, evaluation and project management skills
  • To develop new processes, systems and ways of working to drive performance

Communication Advisors

We’re a passionate and professional team who thrive in issue-rich environment and we’re looking for Senior Communication Advisors, Communications Advisors and Communications Executives to join their fast-growing team. 

You’ll have previous agency experience at Senior Account Manager or Account Manager level and be passionate about delivering excellent results for clients. You might be a specialist in PR and media relations who produces compelling editorial content across a range of topics and sectors or you might be a public affairs expert who understands the policy landscape and helps clients build influential relationships. Whatever your specialism, you’ll be an excellent writer, full of creative ideas, with proven client management experience and the ability to provide expert advice our clients.

Your key duties will include:

  • Supporting the key account lead with day-to-day client liaison, providing strategic counsel on day-to-day account matters when required
  • Active involvement in planning and delivering global PR, marketing and digital campaigns
  • Managing content programmes, including mapping out content themes, spotting industry trends and story angles, writing copy when required which may include opinion articles, web and social
  • Building strong media relationships, creating pitches based on your story ideas and delivering content in-to suit the client’s target media and securing opportunities
  • Planning and running client’s social media programmes, and management of their channels
  • Continuously identifying opportunities to grow brand awareness and profile our client’s businesses within their target sector through events, webinars, thought leadership
  • Producing comprehensive and timely reports on client activity 
  • Supporting in the development of client proposals to help grow or win parts of the business


In addition, to be considered for this role, you must be able to demonstrate:

  • Proven background in account handling and direct client liaison – 4 years’ minimum
  • Experience in an agency setting focusing on B2B communication or PR
  • Strong communications skills, verbal and written
  • A background in delivering creative, digitally led B2B communications such as LinkedIn campaigns
  • An innate understanding of earned media, with the ability to create stories and generate coverage across traditional media, digital and social
  • Experience working on content management programmes, with an awareness of the changing way business audiences consume information and an appreciation of search, paid and wider customer marketing activity, and how it all fits together
  • A history of working with clients in a variety of sectors is welcomed but experience in the tech and energy industries is advantageous.

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ANDY MACEWAN

HEAD OF TECHNOLOGY, CHANGE & TRANSFORMATION

Andy has been recruiting in Technology, Change & Transformation since 2001. Delivering tailored resource solutions as trusted advisor to clients ranging from start-ups through to global blue-chip organisations across contract, permanent, fixed term, and managed service/statement of work solutions. He has experience providing candidates for Helpdesk through to CIO and takes great pride in providing excellent customer service and ensuring each candidate journey is a positive one. An expert in his market he can provide guidance across current market trends.

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DATA ENGINEER

Our Purpose

Our aim is to combat illicit online trade by identifying and removing counterfeits for sale. Counterfeits not only damage brands, their reputations, and revenues, but can cause significant harm to the end customer – whether as a fake toy or a fake medicine – and the consequences can be life threatening.

Counterfeiting is a significant economic and social issue.

The OECD reports that counterfeit and fake goods make up more than 3.3% of the world’s global trade. Those involved in the trade of counterfeits have been linked to people trafficking, prostitution, and drug dealing.

As such, reducing illicit trade is about much more than brand protection but also about human rights, safety, and social equity.

And this is what we do, every day.

Our People

Our people are our most important asset, and their mental well-being and happiness are core to our success. We love our diverse workforce, actively embrace flexible working (even pre-pandemic!) and encourage a healthy work-life balance. We have been recognised as one of the most diverse SME workplaces in the UK and are holders of the Scottish Business Pledge which exists to promote a fairer Scotland. We have also just been included in the 2021 Culture Leaders Top 25 – an accolade of which we are very proud!

We are a fully inclusive and nurturing employer and, despite being in tech, the majority of our team are women, leading to accolades in the Computing Magazine Women in IT Awards and the Amazon Growing Business Awards. We currently represent 15 nationalities and speak 20 languages. Age is no barrier, and we recruit for attitude, providing and encouraging appropriate learning and training for each and every role.

We are also proud members of IP Inclusive, a network of professionals working to make the intellectual property industry more diverse.

Our Environment

We deliver purpose-driven work from an extremely welcoming environment near the City Centre. We actively encourage the responsible use of resources, from using public transport to reuse, recycling, and, of course, a minimal impact office environment. We have benefited from the advice of the Energy Saving Trust and Resource Efficient Scotland. Our waste contractor also provides us with a monthly report on volumes and types of material and the carbon emissions avoided through recycling.

Over 80% of our employees can walk or cycle to The Lair and, pre-pandemic, 10% were using public transport as their normal daily commuting mode. Without doubt, online meetings will replace considerable miles, going forward, saving resources, time and energy. Where possible, when possible, the train remains our preferred option. 

Our Community

As well as working in close collaboration with our clients, and the online marketplaces, we are active members of groups that have been established to combat illicit trade. These include the Scottish Anti-Illicit Trade Group, the European Intellectual Property Office, The Scottish Business Resilience Centre, the Anti-Counterfeiting Group, and the China Britain Business Council. Members of our senior management sit on the boards of ACID (Anti-Copying in Design), the Scottish Ministerial Trade Board, and the European Union Intellectual Property Office’s Observatory Panel for SMEs, amongst others.

Each team member nominates good causes or charities that are supported on both an individual and corporate basis. Wherever possible, we support the employee’s involvement whether through time or fundraising events.

ANGELA MCCANN

DIRECTOR OF GROWTH

Having worked in the recruitment industry since 2000, Angela brings a wealth of experience as a Recruitment Professional and a proven track record of delivering a high-quality search and selection service to both public and private companies in the UK and internationally. Angela believes in a partnership approach to recruitment, ensuring a detailed understanding of employer/jobseeker requirements and delivering a bespoke service underpinned by professionalism, pragmatism and strong market knowledge.

JAMES BLYTH

HEAD OF MANUFACTURING & ENGINEERING

James has a decade of experience within the FMCG sector where he has partnered with a wide range of businesses placing key appointments at all levels including Director/ Board level. Driving growth across our Manufacturing & Engineering function, James specialises in Production, Operations, Engineering, Quality, HSE, Technical, NPD and Supply Chain. With his passion and expertise in these areas, James supports candidates and clients by working closely to understand their needs and wants providing exceptional service.

OPTIMISE

CVs and interviews will take you to Level 2. Our behavioural profile will take you to Level 3, vital to identifying future potential.

LEVEL 1

Appears to...

  • Appearance
  • Expressiveness
  • Manner
  • Presence

LEVEL 2

Can do...

  • Knowledge
  • Acquired skills
  • Training
  • Experience
  • Education
  • Credentials

LEVEL 3

Will do...

  • Capability to learn
  • Aptitude
  • Attitude
  • Self-motivation
  • Stability
  • Persistence
  • Maturity
  • Temperament
  • Behaviour patterns