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Home » 10 Questions For Steph Edusei Of St Oswald’s Hospice

10 Questions For Steph Edusei Of St Oswald’s Hospice

Steph Edusei is chief executive of St. Oswald’s Hospice, a large children and adult’s hospice based in Newcastle. She is also a non-executive director of The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and is a director of the North East England Chamber of Commerce.

What was your first job (and how much did it pay)? I did have a very unofficial holiday job filing test results for my Mam who was a medical secretary when I was about 11, (it paid 50p per day), and I worked as bar staff during my student days. But my first full time job was as a customer service assistant for the Halifax Building Society working on the desk taking deposits and doing withdrawals etc. I think I was paid around £7,500 per year.

What is the best advice or support you’ve been given in business? That people will learn from what I do far more than they’ll learn from what I say. I’ve recalled it on so many occasions and it’s a useful caution to me when times are challenging. No one is perfect but being aware that actions need to match words because people will learn from the actions is a really helpful motivator to do the right thing.

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What are the main changes you’ve seen in your business/sector, and what are the challenges you’re facing? In the charity sector the challenges are usually the same – demand outstrips supply and supply is dictated largely by funding. In recent years we’ve faced a steeply increasing demand at the same time as less statutory funding and less disposable income in potential supporters. We’re also not immune to the recruitment challenges that others face as we employ of staff with core skills like IT, HR and administration who could work in any sector.

What would your dream job be? I need to do something meaningful; that makes a real difference to people’s lives and that is supporting the wellbeing of individuals and communities in some way. My current role fulfils that need. Would I like to be able to do more and impact on more? Of course, but the environment I work in and the team I work with makes this pretty close to my dream.

What advice would you give to someone starting out a career in your sector? Remember who you are doing this for. Get to know and understand the beneficiaries and listen to them. Don’t let idealism get in the way of making a difference. Look and learn from other organisations and sectors. Develop your network – talk with people about them their lives and roles to build real relationships.

What makes the North East a good place to do business? The North East is a small place when it comes to business and it’s a very friendly place on the whole. People are ready to advise and will usually know someone who can help or collaborate. I don’t think the seven degrees of separation thing works in the North East…it’s more like three.

How important is it for business to play a role in society? Businesses employ people, or their customers are people. People are part of society. What business do impacts on their employees and their customers. They have a unique position to help shape and influence society through the work they do, how they deal with their employees and through the values they demonstrate.

Outside of work, what are you really good at? Apparently I’m a natural connector – I bring people together and connect them for their good (and hopefully the good of others). I also think I’m quite good at motivating children and young people. I’m a Guide leader and a dance teacher and in both roles I focus on supporting them to be the best that they can be whilst having fun.

Who would play you in a film about your life? It’s quite a flattering comparison but Sophie Okonedo is an amazing actress who has a similar look to me.

Which three people would you invite to a dinner party, and why? Maya Angelou, Jane Fonda and my daughter. I love absolutely everything about Maya Angelou; her history, her words and her power. She’d be an incredible dinner guest. I want to be Jane Fonda when I grow up. I think she’s an incredible actress but I also love her values and passion. And I would want my daughter there because it would be an amazing experience for her to hear and learn from such extraordinary women.

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