What’s your inspiration?

Standard Life's Inspiration Award

News & Insights

Sandy Macdonald

9th July 2014 at 3:53pm

Who or what inspires you?  Is it a place, a sportsperson, or someone you know who’s overcome

barriers in their life?  There are plenty of our people who do some truly inspiring things, at work and outside it. On 19 June we held our first Inspiration Awards to celebrate their achievements.

The John Hope Gateway at Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden gave us a really stunning backdrop for our event. If you’ve been there you’ll know it’s inspiring in its own right.  Created by two 17th century doctors as a place for enthusiasts to come together and learn from nature, it’s since blossomed into 70 acres attracting many thousands of visitors every year. I’ve taken my children there many times – it’s a fantastic place for them (and, I think it’s fair to say, their parents) to learn about and appreciate the natural world around them.

Many of the people we have working for us share a similar motivation to those two doctors – to do the right thing for those around them, and help the communities we work in.

People like Steve Hartley.  Steve’s daughter, Caitlin, was born with a heart condition and she’s been treated at Yorkhill Children’s hospital in Glasgow.  Whether his inspiration started with his amazing daughter, with the nurses who treated her, or with someone else’s story he’d heard about, when Yorkhill was voted one of our 2013 charity partners by our employees in Glasgow, meaning they would be eligible for match-funding, he decided to do something amazing.

Steven Hartely (left) picks up his award

Steven Hartely (left) picks up his award from Chairman Gerry Grimstone

Steve embarked on a challenge to run 2013km in 2013.  He completed this one  very wet weekend in December by running the final 85 km from Edinburgh to Glasgow over 2 days.  I joined him on the Sunday morning in Falkirk to run some of the final leg of his journey with him. I’ve run a few marathons in my time, and I live in Scotland, so I’m no stranger to running in the rain and the cold.  But I can honestly say that’s some of the worst conditions I’ve ever run in.  Steve was also clearly in a lot of pain having already run a marathon the previous day.  But he gritted his teeth and some time that afternoon (like I said, I only did some of the distance with him!) he finished with a smile on his face at Yorkhill hospital.  What’s more, during the course of the year he raised over £25,000 for Yorkhill to help other families, in recognition of the support he and his family had received.

That’s one thing about inspiration – it often comes from seeing other values in action, whether it’s determination, selflessness, leadership or compassion.  One act has a ripple effect and others are inspired to follow.

Another moment that will stay with me is when young people from our ‘Edinburgh Guarantee Scheme’ collected a Diversity and Inclusion Award.  Three years ago we recognised that for various reasons, our business  wasn’t employing   anyone under the age of 21.  A few years on, and with a lot of hard work by a dedicated team, we now have 56 people under the age of 21.  And those numbers are growing all the time.

Picture of the Edinburgh Guarantee Scheme Winners

The Edinburgh Guarantee Scheme Winners

These are just two stories we were privileged to hear on the night of our Inspiration Awards.  We’d already announced local winners for our different business areas not just in the UK but in our operations around the globe, including Ireland, Hong Kong and Canada..  On the night we got them all together to reveal the overall group winners and runners-up. You can read more about the event and each award here.

Over the next few months I’ll be writing more about how we’re keeping that inspiration going, and how we encourage actions that make our business more sustainable.  So look out for my blogs and why not check the updates on our sustainability pages too.

Join the conversation and follow us on twitter @StandardLifeUK and Facebook.

You can now subscribe to regular MoneyPlus blog updates too by simply entering your email address in the subscription bar at the top right-hand corner of the site.