Blog David Anderson
End of an era
Last week mainly consisted of a number of internal meetings, such as audit committee, staff executive and so on. All are important of course, but it does mean that during such weeks I do not get the chance to visit sites outside of Cardiff.
The evenings were also busy, and on Tuesday night I went to a dinner hosted by the First Minister to mark the special relationship between Japan and Wales. It was the first type of event since the election, and it was clear that the international profile of Wales will be important to Carwyn Jones over the next few years. His speech was excellent, and I was amazed to learn that there are over 130 companies from Japan operating here in Wales. Though it was a lovely evening, it did strike me that there were very few women present and that most present were men of a certain age in suits, like myself. This was reinforced in a performance by a Male Voice Choir. They were excellent singers, but it did make me wonder if in the future we could showcase a more creative Wales at such events? Something to ponder anyway...
Wednesday evening was also a late evening, this time at the Museum to mark the retirement of our President, Paul Loveluck. I have only been in post in Cardiff for 8 months, so I have not had the privilege of working for years with Paul as some of those present hae done. But in that short time, it is already clear to me that he has been an exceptional President. His combination of vast managerial and Chief Executive experience in different organizations in Wales, and personal values, is exceptional. I have found that Paul is hugely liked and respected by everyone, inside and outside Amgueddfa Cymru. And they in turn feel that he respects them.
His diplomatic skills, and his ability to understand and represent many different groups in Wales, have ensured that significant and potentially serious challenges and difficulties have not developed into crises.
Paul has overseen the most important changes and developments in Amgueddfa Cymru, certainly since the opening of St Fagans in 1948, and possibly since its foundation. His legacy is one of impressive physical transformation of our sites for public good, but it is also of something even more important - an organization that over the last 9 years has been shaped by his values.
The best tribute we can pay to Paul is that Amgueddfa Cymru holds these values close, and carries them forward in its heart. Though we of course look forward to a new chapter with a new President, we will miss Paul and the contribution he's made to our work.
Fun, but an important insight
Over the past few weeks, I have been undertaking work experience at our sites. There are two to go - Llanberis and National Museum Cardiff - but I thought it would be interesting to report back on what I've been tasked to do up to now. One of the things that struck me the most was the high level of skills required at all of our sites to ensure that everything runs smoothly. It is not just a matter of opening and closing the gates at the start and end of every day, and each member of staff has an important role to play in ensuring that we deliver the best for our visitors.
I was given a wide range of tasks that were in accordance with my limited skills level in some areas! Highlights included taking part in the safety inspection at Big Pit, selling a site booklet at Caerleon, cleaning the ladies toilets at Swansea, supervising the operation of the carding machinery at Drefach and removing corrosion on the earliest surviving mining truck in Wales at our Collections Centre in Nantgarw. St Fagans worked me the hardest, from removing hundreds of dead heads from tulips, to creating threads by hand for the reconstruction of the Clogmaker's cottage to making nails from scratch at the Blacksmiths workshop. I nearly succeeded in making the perfect nail, but I made the mistake of overheating the metal meaning that the nail became too brittle and alas, unusable.
I'm looking forward to completing my work experience at the remaining sites! It has been a fun experience, but also an important one as it has given me a different insight into the workings of each of the sites. It has been a great way for me to get to know staff in a more informal environment. Although formal presentations are necessary from time to time, I do prefer having the opportunity to talk one to one.
Blog David Anderson