Proactive, diverse, challenging: Why I love my job
Harry Bowell, Regional Director for the North, tells us why he loves the diverse, vibrant nature of his role and explains why he genuinely gets up feeling excited about work every day.
I joined the National Trust seven years ago as Assistant Director of Operations for the Midlands, after working at the RSPB and the Wildlife Trust in operations roles. A few years later I became Regional Director for the Midlands for less than 12 months, and I then found myself Regional Director for the North. Honestly, I had a lot of preconceptions about the National Trust before applying, but the tone and direction in which the new strategy is headed is professional, modern, cause-driving and far reaching – and that’s what drew me to the organisation.
We often think of the role of Regional Director as 50 percent about managing the region, 25 percent rolling out the national strategy and 25 percent being the external voice of the organisation. So much of the role is very much about setting the tone and culture for the region, in particular relaying our ambitious strategy message, but also instilling confidence that we’re capable of achieving that – it’s very much like being the local representative for the leadership at the National Trust, which can often be challenging, so resilience is key!
It’s not hiding behind doors
For me, my role is about structure – with the right people in the right places – I look after 1100 staff and 6,500 volunteers so I need to see the bigger picture. It’s definitely not about hiding behind closed doors! I need to be out at properties and places, being a visible, inspiring face to everyone in the region. Indeed, the real joy of my job is in the diversity, I absolutely love it.
No two days are the same – I know that sounds like a cliché but it’s true! I’ll be discussing management on Monday, talking to ports about a large investment the next and be in one-to-one meetings after that to chat about a programme of events at a property. While the utterly varied nature of it brings a lot of excitement, the diversity also brings challenges because you need to know what to focus on and when. You need to be able to be rigorous when it comes to the business planning process because you need to be able to translate the national strategy into regional delivery. It’s really incredibly invigorating stuff to the right person!
A large part of success is down to clarity of communications as I need to give the team space to operate. It’s a real skill to sniff out the risk here because while I do need to delegate decision making, those decisions that are down to me need to be made in a timely way while being mindful of doing the right thing by the organisation and aligning with its values. Within the role there’s scope to lead on areas of national interest, whether that’s land, outdoors and nature, or urban. I’m really interested in urban environments for example, so I actually act on that nationally as well as regionally.
Incredible and impactful
The ability to make a difference in this role is, for me, absolutely one of the best aspects of it. It’s an incredible, impactful role and one that could make or break the region as you’ll be growing the love for the National Trust. It’s also a thrilling, vibrant place to work and the people here are amazing, inspiring and supportive from the top to the bottom. The nine Operational Directors are an absolutely brilliant team who work to deliver the national strategy together. It’s a great time to join us right now as things are changing fast and at the same time the relationship between the regions and our central colleagues is being renegotiated in a really positive way. If you’re looking for the chance to make an impact and understand how to make things happen on a large scale, this could be the role for you.
If you’re interesting in applying for one of our Regional Director roles and think you have what it takes, you can search and apply on our Careers site.