Caroline Duckworth, Chief Executive, the Quartet Community Foundation

We welcome Caroline Duckworth, Chief Executive of the Quartet Community Foundation, to our regular series of interviews with leading figures in the South West’s business community. 

  Caroline Duckworth, Chief Executive of the  Quartet Community Foundation

Caroline Duckworth, Chief Executive of the Quartet Community Foundation

Hello Caroline, tell us about Quartet Community Foundation and your role.

I am Chief Executive of Quartet Community Foundation which I joined in March 2012 having spent the previous 14 years working for Leadership development Charity Common Purpose. Prior to that I spent a number of years in retail operational managenment.

Quartet Community Foundation is a Charity which aims to improve the lives of people living in our area (Bristol, B&NES, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire) by linking donors to local projects that with the help of additional funding can make a real and significant difference to local communities. We are celebrating our 25 Anniversary this year.

We primarily aim to raise funds to our endowment fund which means that funds will be there in perpetuity. Each year our donors, with whatever guidance they wish, give out the interest on their fund to the organisations that they want to support. Our return on our endowment set annually out with fluctuations in the stock markets.

What challenges do you personally face over the next 12 months?

Settling into any new job is always exciting and challenging. Quartet Community Foundation is in great shape and my role is to build on the work that has already been done and make sure we are even more successful in the next 25 years. I see my main areas of focus being around building and strengthening our profile specifically with the business community so that more people locally can benefit from our services. Like many organisations in the current economic climate we have to look at new ways to raise funds to support those in need. We currently have a number of exciting opportunities to raise funds including a new microloan fund for businesses unable to access bank funding.

How has the economic recession impacted your business?

As the public sector cuts begin to bite we can see increasing demand for grants. Charities are not immune to a changing world and many are beginning to look at innovative ways to work together collaboratively and share costs.  There is an increase in individuals and organisations that want to focus their giving at a local level and see  Quartet Community Foundation as a great way to broker that giving and ensure the maximum amount goes directly to good causes. There is a strong commitment in the area to supporting local causes and a good understanding for the need to support those at disadvantage to provide a thriving place to live and work.

Should the government intervene more?

I believe we need to get the balance right between the two. We need a sufficient safety net for those unable to help and support themselves and a way of helping those at a time of need to lift themselves out of difficulty but an environment that does not create a dependency culture. It is important that people are able, wherever possible, to make and take decisions for themselves and take ownership of their own lives. Our structures should be there to maintain the dignity of the individual and protect individual self esteem.

What’s your view on the South West’s business scene?

The South west is a very vibrant place to live and work. It thrives on an entrepreneurial culture and has huge advantages which make it a fantastic place to live and work. We must protect that by creating and applauding a culture that continues to create wealth and prosperity for all to benefit from.

Do you have any advice that you’d pass on to a newly appointed company director?

When you are new in post you can view your organisation and the area you work in with great objectivity and most like a customer sees it. Try and record all the good things and the less good and revisit your first impressions at regular intervals to remind yourself of how it looked and felt. That will help to keep you focused externally and on your customer.

What do you like to do outside of work? 

I am married with two teenage children so that should tell you a lot about my life outside work! We live in Nailsworth and as a family are active in our local community. I run our Scout Shop which keeps me linked with my retail background.

Who is your hero / personal inspiration?

My parents have been pretty amazing and inspirational.  My father was born deaf and my mother went deaf at the age of 7. I saw at first hand what it was like to be marginalised and often ignored. It taught me a lot about how to treat people and respect people whatever their circumstances.

What is on your I Pod and what are you reading right now?

I am very much a radio 4 person loving listening to the spoken word more than music. I am an avid fan of the News Quiz and Just a Minute with occasional forays into The Archers! I joined a book club a year ago to broaden my reading and my kindle is currently loaded with The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy.

My personal experience has been very positive. I have found staff to be very helpful and friendly. I think the personal touch remains very important, being well connected approachable and open to constructive feedback. 

What's your experience working with Moon Consulting?

My personal experience has been very positive. I have found staff to be very helpful and friendly. I think the personal touch remains very important, being well connected approachable and open to constructive feedback.