29 July 2020

BLOG: Wider Horizons - meet James

As part of our Wider Horizons series we wanted to provide an insight into the number of different careers and job roles that make up the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, while also giving you a chance to learn a little bit more about each of our Trust Team!

First up, as part of our ‘Careers at Sea’ section we’ve asked James Hall, the Operations Manager North who is based in the Largs office to tell us a little bit more about his career so far and how he ended up working at the Trust…

James Hall Ellen MacArthur Cancer TrustWhat is your job at the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust? I’ve been working at the Trust for 11 exciting months now as the Operations Manager North. I’m responsible for ensuring that we have great Trust trips at the Largs site and some of our third-party residential sites. I’m also part of the Leadership Team which involves working on the longer-term strategy of the organisation and implementing that. As part of my job I manage the Largs office and Largs Operations Team as well as coordinating the maintenance of the two Trust vessels in Largs – Caledonian Hero & Moonspray.

What qualities/skills/qualifications do you need to be able to do your job role? As part of my job involves looking after the yachts we use to run our Largs trips, I need to have some qualifications to help the team of Skippers keep everyone safe – I have the Yacht Master Instructor Qualification from the Royal Yachting Association (RYA).

In terms of qualities and skills I think there are a few things that have helped me get to where I am. The first one is my attitude to work – I have always taken pride in my work and worked hard at everything I do. In my experience this is a great base to start from – employers can teach you the tricky skills as you will work hard to master them and this is worth putting in the effort.

On top of this I have always tried to learn something new in whatever job role I am in. This has helped me to collect varied skills and build my knowledge & experience.

What did you do before you came to the Trust? Before joining the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust I worked for the past decade on yachts of various sizes all across the Northern Hemisphere including 3 years working in the Mediterranean.

My standout job would have to be skippering a 72ft sail training vessel based on the west coast of Scotland and crewed by 12 young people. I did often pinch myself thinking that someone was paying me to sail about the beautiful coast with all of the enthusiastic and energetic young people. It also taught me a lot about managing teams as there were five members of staff that all looked to you when there was a problem. A great experience.

What made you want to come and work for the Trust/how did you get the job? This may come as a surprise to you, but the sailing world is quite small. I heard from a friend that the job was available and it seemed to be right up my street. My son was 6 weeks old when I applied, I really wanted to keep working for a charity and work with young people but perhaps not be away at sea for so much of my son’s life.

In truth you will probably have to ask my boss why I got the job! But I know that through my interviews I was honest about what skills and experience I did and did not have and how I tried to show my personality and attitude towards work to the panel. They must have liked something they heard!

James Hall Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust - Wider Horizions Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to pursue a similar job/career? Just go for it! There are so many opportunities to get involved with boating and the outdoors and if you grab the bull by the horns and have the right attitude you are going to be successful. One of the Skippers I worked with previously used to say at the end of a voyage; “If anyone gives you an opportunity to do something different, be it sailing or hillwalking etc… Just say yes, if it’s not for you that’s ok but it might just be the start of something amazing and lead to your dream job.”

What is it about your role that makes it feel so worthwhile? To be able to introduce people to new experiences and outlooks which have had such a drastic change on my life.

Tell us about stand out memory you have from when you have seen your work have a real impact. When an ex-young person served me at the fish counter in Morrisons, she delighted in telling me that since her trip she has changed her whole outlook, got a job, finished a college course in something she was interested in and how much she feels has come from her experience with the Trust.

Tell us about an experience that has made you proud to work for the Trust. Listening to a trip round-up and best bit, worst bit and funny bit always makes me feel so proud to be a part of the Trust Team. It gives me such a nice warm feeling.

Finally, tell us something about yourself we might not already know? I love making things and learning new skills, anything from cooking, building furniture and learning instruments.