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Company Profile: Kirsten Howie, Director of Fundraising & Sponsorship

Can you describe your job in one sentence? 
Our job as a fundraising team is to fuel Scottish Opera. We work to tell people about what we do and why it’s great, and then we work to bring people on a journey from being admirers to being supporters. This involves lots of listening to and talking to people, but it is also surprising data-driven and requires a lot of technical analysis.


What do you love about working in fundraising & sponsorship?
There are people out there who are willing to give away their resources in order to make the world more wonderful. I think that’s amazing and inspiring. Even more amazing and inspiring is the fact that if you work hard enough and with enough care, new people will get involved – maybe people who didn’t think that they would ever be part of making something beautiful.


10 years ago, did you imagine that you would be working for this Company?
Absolutely not! I love opera and music but I honestly thought I’d never work for an arts organisation. I’ve spent a long time working in the world of disability – mostly in and around London - and I thought I’d be working for something to do with social welfare. I leapt at the chance to work at Scottish Opera because the combination of opera and Glasgow were just irresistible!


If you weren't working in your current job, what would be your ideal profession?

Swashbuckler or pirate, probably. Failing that, anything which would make me work hard mentally – I love a good challenge. The agri-food space would be interesting because it has all the interest of international business with the elemental connection to the outdoors plus stuff you can eat at the end of it.


What do you do when you're not working?
I spend quite a lot of time trying to keep in touch with friends in scattered places. I love travelling when I can. I seem to spend hours doing things in the garden, like hauling out the latest batch of triffid-like weeds which will have sprung up from nowhere, or wrestling with the lawnmower when it stops halfway through the lawn (again).


What three things might people be surprised to learn about you?

  • I am the proud owner of a beautiful motorbike and love zipping loudly about the countryside on it when the weather is OK!
  • I make a fantastic cocktail, though I do say it myself; my White Lady and Aviator are famous for miles around.
  • And I seem to have developed a bizarre fascination for Neolithic remains, particularly those of the nuraghic culture in Sardinia. When faced with a ruined burial tomb or collapsed stone chamber, I come over all Indiana Jones and will worm my way through dark passages and mud on my stomach in order to see what’s inside. (No, I’ve never found any priceless remains or been shot at with poisoned darts whilst doing this.)


Where is your favourite place to be in the world?

Scotland, naturally. But I love being anywhere where there’s a good storm: being able to feel the power of weather is absolutely exhilarating.