Getting to know... Nicola Smith

A blog post by Nicola Smith

Nicola Smith
Administration Officer

Posted 05/05/2021

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Our Communications Manager Suzanne had a chat with Nicola, our tip top Administration Officer, who’s favourite phrase in team meetings when we do the round-table updates on what we have been doing is a humble – ‘Business as Usual.’


When did you start work at Keep Scotland Beautiful and what does your role involve?

I joined our Corporate Services team in the summer of 2013.  After working for the Ministry of Defence for over 10 years I felt it was time for a career change.  I took a ‘leap of faith’ and joined the Fife Coast & Countryside Trust to help secure funding for ‘The Living Lomonds’ a landscape conservation programme in my local area.  Working on the project nurtured my desire to protect and enhance our environment and to work for an environmental charity.  I wanted to make as big a contribution as I could and the core of what we are doing here really matters and is a driver for me.

Taking a step backwards in terms of career progression has enabled me to move forward in making a real difference to our environment.  Now I play a crucial part in helping the wider #TeamKSBScotland to achieve our objectives as well as giving nature a helping hand.

Reflecting on my interview for the role I remember saying that the Corporate Services function of an organisation is like the foundations of a house.  Without good foundations the house will crumble.  The central function supports the delivery of all the great work that our operations teams do and although my role might sometimes feel like a small cog in a large wheel, that large wheel helps turn the huge wheel that is our charity’s environmental work driving us all forward.

What does your typical day look like?

Normally I am office based and for those of you who visited or called our offices pre lockdown, I was usually the person to pick up the main phone or welcome you through the door.  I manage a wide variety of issues to support our teams in the office and manage the enquiries that we receive through our info@ email.  I am also on hand to assist our climate team with claims made to our funding streams.  For me, a typical day would be something like – the post has arrived, the toilet is blocked, the printer is jammed, the phone is ringing, you need stationary, yes, we have more tea bags, we’ve run out of milk, you’ve lost your car keys, we have 20 visitors today, you need a hire car, you’ve forgotten your door pass, we have a new start today, the food waste bin is overflowing, we need more mail bags, catch the Postie!  Office life can be hectic, but I enjoy the ‘buzz’. 



Away from the hive of general office activity I support our Media and Events subgroup, Finance, ICT, Facilities and HR core functions and I am the administrator for our Management Information System which we use to manage our workstreams and deliver our projects and trading work.  Amongst other things I train staff to use the system, help resolve user issues, process requests for new jobs and produce project reports for our management team.

Since lockdown I have continued to support the entire team, but differently.  One of benefits of working from home has been being able to learn more about new technology and to have had the time to better understand the tasks I am often asked to do.  Like for many of us, it has, at times, been a steep learning curve adapting to the technology and new ways of working but there have been many positives to take from the experience, not least the new office ‘buzz’ - the dog peacefully sleeping by my feet, the birds song from the garden, the chatter coming from my husband’s office upstairs, the moderate hum of the washing machine as I work from the kitchen table, the pant of a dog eagerly awaiting her lunchtime walk and the children playing happily in the garden next door.


What are you working on right now?

The pandemic, and working remotely, has given me uninterrupted time to look deeper into the systems and process we use and learn more about them, to attend webinars, and learn how we could potentially do more to support our activities going forward. 

One of the projects I am currently working on is looking at how we might move our Information Management System to a cloud hosted service.  I love to take a project, break it down and then put it back together again in a way that we can deliver and that will support the organisation to be more effective.  

Although we are all working differently for the moment a large part of my role remains unchanged and I continue to support the core service functions and to assist colleagues with their requests and enquiries with process and systems, helping them to do their jobs better.


What are your hopes for Scotland’s environment?

I see the level of engagement with our activities increasing as I monitor our info @ emails.  There is a real appetite and desire from people to take action to combat climate change, tackle litter and improve and enhance the places they love. Through our recruitment process I see the number of people, many of them very well qualified, who apply to work with us, it’s amazing, reiterating that we are a good employer and that we are doing many things right.

I would love for us to be able to build the capacity and infrastructure to support more people to take the action our environment needs – to broaden our reach and impact through communities and businesses.

Personally, I’d love more people to take time out from the noise of life, to take a step back, slow down, stop and question, and to really listen, hear and see all that is around them.  To rediscover nature.  And to act to protect Scotland’s environment.  My lockdown was made harder by not being able to get to the beach – the place I find space for reconnecting most.  


If you think working with us might be for you, keep an eye on our Join Us pages, where we advertise  all new vacancies and volunteering opportunities.

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