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In this installment of the SAAB Spotlight On series, we hear from Edel Harris, Chief Executive at Cornerstone and member of the SAAB Employer Engagement Group.

What does the company do?

Cornerstone provides care and support to over 2,500 children, adults and families across Scotland.  Our aim is to enable the people we support to enjoy a valued life.

What’s a typical day for you?

I've worked at Cornerstone for 9 years and there really isn’t a typical day. I spend a lot of time travelling to our locations across Scotland and I see more of a train carriage than I do my office in Aberdeen. 

I am not an early bird, preferring to start my working day at about 8.30am, although I am always happy to work on into the evenings which I often do attending functions and events to represent our organisation.

What is your vision for growing the apprenticeship offer in Scotland?

Like many other people I feel passionately about inspiring others to consider a career in our sector.  Providing an opportunity for apprentices to discover all aspects of a job in social care and hopefully igniting a passion should lead to great things not just for the individual but for others whose lives they touch.  This is equally important for other sectors in our mixed economy. 

Our sector also faces significant recruitment and retention challenges and hopefully if an apprenticeship is geared more exactly to meet the needs of a particular employer some of these challenges will be overcome.

Do you have an apprenticeship programme at Cornerstone?

We are very proud of the work we do to encourage young people to consider a career in social care and our apprenticeship programme is one of the tools we use.  We were one of the first social care charitable organisations to receive acknowledgement for Investing in Young People and we work in partnership with the Prince’s Trust on our Get Into Social Care programme.

 

Providing an opportunity for apprentices to discover all aspects of a job in social care and hopefully igniting a passion should lead to great things not just for the individual but for others whose lives they touch.

Edel Harris, Chief Executive at Cornerstone and member of the SAAB Employer Engagement Group.

What is your biggest business achievement to date?

I was overwhelmed when I was announced as the overall Scotland winner of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017 – quite something to be recognised in this way following a very robust process judged by some of the most successful and influential business people in the country. However I feel uncomfortable about individual awards and must give all due credit to the brilliant team around me.

I am also very proud to have been elected as the first female President of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce.

Which businessperson or company do you most admire and why?

It is difficult to nominate one person or company because in my working life I have come across many people working at all levels within companies that have inspired me and taught me some valuable lessons.  Our current strategic plan – Local Cornerstone – has been inspired by Jos De Blok the founder of Buurtzorg in the Netherlands and I love the way he is not frightened to challenge the status quo in pursuit of his organisation’s aim. 

I am also a big fan of Jim Collins of Good to Great fame – I live by his mantra of hiring for attitude and ensuring you have the right people on the bus before worrying about job roles, qualifications or specifications.

What’s on your computer desktop?

At the moment a photograph of an Austrian mountain taken on a very recent holiday in Bad Gastein.

Pret or Starbucks?

Pret (another company ethos I have studied and admire)

What did you want to be as a child?

A ballet dancer (please don’t laugh!)

Film or TV Box set?

Film and always at a cinema

What three words sum you up?

According to my Insights profile – Visionary, ambitious yet caring.