Rewarding start to 2014

Last week I was honoured to be voted No.1 in the Resource Magazine Hot 100. It was a humbling experience to be presented with the ‘award’ at the inaugural Kit Strange Memorial Lecture, in the Houses of Parliament.

Written By Iain Gulland - Chief Executive, Zero Waste Scotland  |  20 Jan 14

 The weekend has allowed me time to reflect and – indulgently perhaps – I’d like to use my first blog of 2014 to set out the acceptance speech I might have given, if I had been more prepared.

My amusing introductory anecdote would have told how I almost didn’t make it there at all.   On arriving late and being told there was a 45 minute wait to get through security, I seriously considered heading for the pub as I reckoned by the time I made it to the lecture, it would be over.  In the end, it only took 25 minutes and I managed to hear the second half of Steve Read’s thought-provoking lecture and some insightful reflections on Kit’s life and legacy from Barry Sheerman MP.

I would then have noted the appropriateness of the award being made at an event to honour Kit Strange.  Kit was part of the Zero Waste Think Tank which the then new Cabinet Secretary, Richard Lochhead, set up in 2008 to help shape Scotland’s ambition for a zero waste society.  Much of what has since come to pass in Scotland in terms of waste and resources policy can be traced back to those Think Tank discussions, and so represents a legacy for Kit in Scotland. 

Finally, I would have played down my own ‘influencing’ role.  In days gone by I did try to influence through dogged determination – often making myself unpopular on the way!  But my role has changed significantly, and my influence is now based around talking up successes and achievements rather than rattling cages.  

In the vein, I endorse Steve Read’s view that there are many reasons to be cheerful; perhaps more in Scotland than elsewhere.  I’m optimistic because we have commitment from the top, a record of positive engagement with industry and a real appetite for change across the business community.   

I am also excited by the pool of talent that is now employed in the resource sector, particularly here in Scotland.  Barry Sheerman was right to call for more young people to be encouraged into the industry.  In Scotland, I feel we’re doing that, both within Zero Waste Scotland and in partners, front-line businesses and councils. 

Looking ahead, the more we embrace the circular economy agenda, and our language talks up its opportunities, the more we will be able to build on our momentum and keep attracting new talent.

I have an easy job really.  I get to attend events and meetings and talk up the inspiring work of others.  It’s those in my own team and in the wider industry who are shaping the future.  I view the recognition I received last week as shared among all the passionate people I work with both inside and outside of Zero Waste Scotland and WRAP: without them I don’t think I would be achieving very much at all.

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