Our interim CEO Lucy Atkinson shares with us how she got started in her career.
Who are you and what is your role?
My name is Lucy and I am interim CEO here at Stratford Circus. I have overall responsibility for the organisation and its staff and report to our Board of Trustees.
Talk us through your typical day
As with the rest of the cultural sector my days are based working from home currently! We start the week with an all staff meeting via Zoom updating one another on the week past and the week ahead. Our Senior Management Team also meet at the beginning of the week to discuss topics including HR, finance, our building and our programme. In a typical day I might speak to Stakeholders such as the Arts Council, the Mayor of London’s Culture Team, Programme partners and Funders. I will also have meetings with staff supporting individuals and teams to deliver their objectives and goals.
How did you get started in your career?
My first job in the arts was with our neighbours Theatre Royal Stratford East where I was a box office assistant. I then started to work for Tall Stories Theatre Company as their administrator and company manager, touring shows around the UK and internationally. This led me to the Roundhouse in Camden where I began as an Administrator working my way up to Senior Producer, in charge of commissioning and producing a wide range of performing arts projects, productions and festivals. For the past three years I have been working as a freelance Executive Producer working with companies to offer strategic advice and fundraising support. I was also a Trustee here at Stratford Circus for 4-years before stepping down from the board to take on this interim role.
What’s the best thing about being a CEO?
Being able to work for and lead an organisation I really care about. Growing up locally I have been an audience member here at Stratford Circus for many years and since starting a family have had the joy of bringing my children to the absolutely extraordinary programme of activities on offer for families and young people. So to be able to combine that love of the building and my professional experience is really special. I also get to work with some of the loveliest and hardworking people around, even though I only get to see their faces via my computer screen for now.
What’s the most challenging thing?
Currently, without question, it is the uncertainty we are currently facing in the UK and globally, as a result of Covid-19. As a building based organisation one of the greatest challenges you can face is the closure of your building, which we rely on to run our programmes. Our brilliant team are however looking at ways to connect to our audiences and communities via our website, social media and sometimes the good old fashioned telephone!
What qualities do you think you need to succeed at being a CEO?
It’s a bit of a cliché but a love of what you do along with the commitment and drive to succeed. Never be afraid to ask questions, always be kind and a sense of humour is also really helpful!