• Andrew Laird

MV turns 5 years old…a chat with Andrew, Olly and David

Updated: Apr 6

To mark the fifth anniversary of Mutual Ventures, the team asked the Directors how they felt about the journey so far and what they think the future holds. Here’s what they had to say…

Right, let’s start with Andrew…

Andrew

Where did the idea for Mutual Ventures come from?

Me.


Just kidding! It was very much an idea developed between the three of us.

We knew each other from a previous consulting life and at one point got a taste of working ­­­­directly with public sector front line staff. Seeing our efforts have a direct effect on services was tremendously rewarding. We knew we wanted more of that and we anticipated greater commitment from government in terms of giving more power to front line staff. So we decided to take the plunge and set up MV back in January 2011.


The last five years seem to have gone in a flash. As has a lot of my hair unfortunately!


What do the next five years look like for MV?


There is still a lot of work to do before the “alternative delivery model” middle ground between in-house public sector delivery and straight outsourcing becomes a substantial and influential part of the public service market place. I’d like to see us continue to play our role in helping achieve that.


We need to keep recruiting great people who can help us respond to the challenges ahead like devolution and integration, as well as making sure that existing mutuals and social enterprises are resilient.


I also hope Olly finally perfects his golf swing – we’ve heard enough about it!


If you could celebrate this anniversary by having a beer or a “curly-whirly” cake from Konditor and Cook, which would you choose and why?


That’s a really difficult one… what time of day is it? Curly whirly cake is amazing; they put something in it that makes you crave it more than is normal for something like that. But it would have to be a beer (or four) with the team.

Now let’s hear from Olly…

OC

What three pieces of advice would you give to anyone thinking of setting up their own business?


There’s lots that could be said but these three below were relevant for us.


  1. Don’t be afraid to take a risk if you really believe in what you are doing. We launched a full year before the vast majority of public sector staff had even heard of a mutual or an alternative delivery model.

  2. If you are setting up in partnership with others, it’s worth trying to get an office where you can all meet and support each other – no matter how grotty it is. Our first office was fairly dilapidated. The floor was so sloped that we set up a putting green! But it helped us realise the importance of working together in the same premises.

  3. Be persistent – you actually don’t fail until you give up. Sounds a bit cheesy but it’s true.

What has been the biggest challenge MV has overcome in its five year history?


Aside from listening to David and Andrew bang on about Game of Thrones, I would say navigating our way past the general election last year was one of our biggest challenges – albeit one we had planned for. We needed to have long term projects up and running before the election so we could survive the period of commissioner inactivity after it. We achieved that, but it was still a challenging period.


Keeping on the Game of Thrones theme, if you had to slay a dragon, which weapon would you use and why?


Are you sure this question isn’t for David or Andrew? I would probably use a 9 iron golf club – or failing that I think I’d bore it to death with one of my financial spreadsheets. That would definitely do it.

But what does David think…


DF

What are the main differences between public services five years ago and now?


Apart from the funding challenges which only really started to impact services five years ago, I think the main change is the variance in how services are delivered (and will be delivered) in local areas.


The Government has set a clear strategy on things like devolution and integration, but they are making it clear that it is up to local areas how they actually deliver the change. This had been a bit of a culture shock for many people working in the public sector who are more used to a “command and control” approach from central government.


This will inevitably lead to some very different services in different areas.


Looking back over the last five years, what are you most proud of?


That’s an easy one. I’m proud of the great team we’ve managed to build.


Our early joiners, like Mark and Anne-Helene, were taking on a big risk by joining a very small organisation with only a few clients. Since then, we have recruited some amazing people from a real mix of backgrounds including local authorities, charities, consultancies and even from Australia!

I’m also immensely proud of the macaroons I made for the team back in 2012. I have been assured everyone thoroughly enjoyed them!


And finally David, where are your glasses?


Yes, yes – very funny. They’re on my head…. Oh no wait!?

And on that positive note, we look forward to some more memorable moments and great experiences over the next five years.