By Hattie Callery, executive director (maternity cover)
For the past 14 months or so, I’ve been Exec Director at Middle Child covering the amazing Lindsey Alvis while she was on maternity leave. I can truly say from the bottom of my heart that it has been an incredible experience at an awe inspiring organisation. Middle Child make incredible work, develop artists who’ve gone onto amazing careers, and serve Hull’s community with real integrity.
My time at Middle Child has been challenging, fun, inspiring, sometimes stressful, but always joyful. I’ve been stretched in all the right ways and I feel like a different person to the 28 year old who first walked through the door in 2021.
When I reflect on my time with Middle Child three key things come to mind:
1) How to run a really good recruitment process
I would never have dreamed of applying for this job (Executive Director?! Who, me?!), if it wasn’t for the effort and care that Middle Child put into the recruitment process. I opened up the job ad because I thought I might like to be an ED one day in the future – it was only ever meant to be an aspirational read to see what skill sets and experience a company I admired would be looking for. What sprung out to me was their focus on transferable skills, and a key message that you didn’t have to have been an ED before. Most importantly – there was a section written by a previous maternity cover ED (the incredible Rozzy Knox, now one of our trustees), about her time with the company, the level of support they offered her and what an incredible learning opportunity it was. Reading Rozzy’s words gave me the bravery and permission to put an application in for a job that I would never normally have considered applying for.
We need more companies to take a creative approach to recruitment, and who will invest in people’s development both personally and financially, if we want to change who gets to make big decisions in our industry. If you are recruiting – talk to Middle Child.
2) Learning about all things finance and fundraising
When I got the job my largest skill gap was in financial management. Yeah, I’d run budgets, but that was it really. Here’s the thing – I had to work really hard to get a C in maths. When I got the job friends and family asked me cautiously – and how are you feeling about the finance? Turns out, I love the finances. Finances isn’t all maths – its story telling with numbers, informed decision making, it’s making incredibly satisfying spreadsheets that link across tabs (nod to all you excel geeks out there), its problem solving. The responsibility felt huge and there were days when I over panicked about the money (for anyone who has ever wondered about buying pizza for the cast – always buy pizza for the cast). I’ve learnt so much and I now genuinely read other organisations statutory accounts as a hobby. Don’t be scared of the numbers – there is always an answer; you just have to find it.
My biggest joy has been discovering fundraising. I’d done bits and bobs in various jobs, but it was during my time at Middle Child that I discovered a new passion. Fundraising brings together strategic thinking, a need for concise, persuasive writing, project planning and relationship management – and I love all of it. I’m now shifting my career to focus purely on fundraising because of my experience at Middle Child, and I feel indebted to the team and our trustees for helping me find a new career path.
My first day at Middle Child was my first day in Hull. Paul (AD, founder of Middle Child, top person), gave me a tour and I quickly fell in love with the vibe of the city. It’s artsy, grounded and got a real sense of community. It quickly became apparent that Middle Child are a huge part of this community. The best example of this was Middle Child’s 10th Birthday Party, which was the first event I worked on in my new role. I was blown away by the love in the room. A packed out audience watched scenes and songs from a decades worth of Middle Child shows, sang along, drank pints and shots of tequila, and showed their appreciation for a company that has made real change in the city. The atmosphere was incredible, and I knew I was working somewhere really special.
There is so much more that I could say about Middle Child. They are kind, hard working, funny, genuine, and committed to making great work. I can’t wait to see what they do next. A word to the wise – their upcoming programme is staggeringly good. I can’t wait to be sitting in stalls (or standing on a sticky floor, pint in hand), watching them do their thing. Bring it on.