Blog Post

CEO Work Shadowing by Connor Friary

Hi, I’m Connor and I’m with Young Scot as part of the Community Jobs Fund, working with the Rewards and Content teams.

Early in July I spent the day with Louise Macdonald OBE, the CEO of Young Scot, for a day of work shadowing. This was my first time spending so much time with someone so high up in the organisation so I was both nervous and excited.

During the day, I was going to go along with Louise to two meetings, one at the Scottish Government Victoria Quay building and the other at St Andrews House Scottish Government building.

We met up at 9:00am at Young Scot’s office in Rosebery House and headed to Victoria Quay. We were actually pretty early when we signed in at the reception and received our visitor passes before taking a seat in the waiting room.

It was whilst we were waiting that I got my first lesson in one of the most important parts of Louise’s role as CEO – making connections with people and leaving a good lasting impression of Young Scot. Louise had bumped into someone that she knows who works there and who now has a new job role and they spent a few minutes catching up. I found this all really interesting, learning how networking is a big part of a CEO’s job was news to me!

Afterwards Louise I talked about this and I asked if these unplanned meetings happen often – and they do! Louise said these moments are often just as valuable as a planned meeting, because it meant relationships with stakeholders can be maintained and built on.

I also learned that because so many meetings in the Scottish Government take place at either 10am or 2pm, you are quite likely to run into people that you may know or have worked with in the past while waiting for the one you are attending!

Louise and myself were then taken from the waiting area to a meeting room that had several people in it from the SG team and we went around the table and all introduced ourselves to everyone.

At the start of the meeting Louise began to ask the room some questions to find out what the people attending were hoping to get out of the meeting, noting down their answers with some key points that the people in the meeting brought up.

I realised that this allowed Louise to decide what she was going to prioritise in terms of what she would talk about and that i8t would be relevant to the people in the meeting.

The main elements of the conversation was regarding housing for young people and how young people can be more involved in decisions that are being made at a high level, making sure that their experiences and ideas are taken into account. It was interesting to realise that senior people in government really want to make this happen and find ways to do it that work well.

As we headed to our next meeting, Louise and I had some really varied conversations about the job of a CEO, ranging from Leadership Theory and Systems Theory. We also spent a great deal of time discussing how important it is to have a passion for your job and how as people our energy is finite and as such we should focus that energy into what we really care about.

In these discussions it also came up how important “Big Hairy Audacious Goals” are for an organisation! BHAG’s help to stop people thinking small and stimulates progress.

These conversations have really helped me reflect on my own path and have a think about what it is that I am passionate about and what I would like to do with myself in the future and where I want to focus my energy into.

Our second meeting of the day at St Andrews House was an informal one, meeting up with someone who was on a leadership programme and who wanted to speak to a leader from the third sector about her next steps in her professional career. She worked in health and really wants to make a difference in her work every day.

This conversation was interesting because it showed me that you do not need to know exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life straight away, there will be lots of time to figure this out. Liife is not a linear line, there are ups and downs.

Overall, I feel like I have learned a great deal in such a small amount of time and found the whole experience to be hugely rewarding. I am very grateful to Louise for allowing me to join her for the day.

At the end of the shadowing day, Louise asked me to think about the question “When I’m in charge, I will…”. I’ve thought about it a lot and I will… treat everyone that I meet with respect, show interest in what they have to say and leave a good lasting impression on them. I will be passionate and aim to inspire the people that I work with.

Find out how you can get involved in Young Scot over at