Stewart McCulloch is CEO of Stewardship.
Tell us about your role at Stewardship.
“I’ve been CEO for four years now. Before that I was at World Vision for five years. So, I’ve gone from working in one of the biggest charities in the world working with some of the poorest people in the world, to a more modest-sized charity working with some of the wealthiest people in the world.
“At World Vision, I was working in microfinance, so I’ve always been at the intersection of faith and finance.
“I moved to the charity sector after twenty-five years in the City.”
What advice would you give to people who are considering transitioning into the charity sector?
“I’d say three things:
“Firstly, it is a transition, and it is a big one. Don’t underestimate it or argue it away; instead face it and think it through.
“Secondly, it can be career-enhancing these days. Historically people did it near retirement, but that’s no longer the case. Modern charities are high-accountability and high-impact, and are at the forefront of marketing and technology. It is definitely a place to build your career. You can go back to industry having learnt interesting skills.
“Thirdly, the rewards are astounding. I was insurance executive in city for twenty-five years and I was pretty successful, but my kids could not have cared less about what I did. But when I moved to World Vision, my kids started telling their friends all about my job! When that happens, that’s very special.
“Of course, it’s not always the right time to move to charity sector. But at the right time, it can be fantastic.”
What top lessons have you learnt about leadership?
“I was reading a reply to one of the 31:8 reports about abuse of power, which said ‘the world told us we had a strong leader’. But we don’t have to go to the world’s model of leadership, the Bible has a great model of leadership, which is all about empowering others, serving others and being non-ego centric.
“At Stewardship, I know the staff follow Jesus and not me, and I’m very happy with that. My job is just to create an environment where others succeed. That’s so different to the world’s model.
“In Christian circles, we often gift too much power to our leaders by not holding them accountable enough. That’s not the biblical model. The Bible is clear that leaders are held to higher standards. We should be demanding of our leaders, rather than them being demanding of us.
“There is a new generation coming through and they should be invited into the leadership conversations, but I’m not sure this is happening as much as it should. We need the mindset of younger people to prepare for this new world ahead. I think my generation has not brought young leaders through in the way that others did for my generation.
“Perhaps my generation think of themselves as more capable and are looking for a type of career path which expects a slower progress through the ranks. But we are about to embrace deglobalisation and rapid technological change. We need real cognitive diversity for that, which means a mixture of ages and experiences. I think a certain resistance to that has built up to bringing forward the younger generation.
What book do you have on your bedside table at the moment?
“JC Ryle’s expository thoughts on Matthew. It was written in 1856. I love it!”
What have you learnt this year that surprised you?
“We’ve recruited amazing people in last season. This has surprised me because we’ve heard so much about the Great Resignation and the talent war. But hybrid-working has allowed us to recruit from a much wider catchment area. Also, we provide a place where people can live out their faith and grow as people, so we’ve been able to attract and retain great people. In this new world of hybrid working, we have all the frameworks of prayer and purpose that hold people together in an organisation.”