Q&A with Shaun

October 11, 2023

Interviewer: How would you describe Target in 3 words?

Shaun: I would like to think I would describe Target as, family, supportive and I suppose, there must be a better word that says doing the right thing, a clever word that’s far cleverer than I am.

Interviewer: *Laughs*

Interviewer: Why did you choose to work at Target?

Shaun: I came to Target as a favour to a dear friend, a probation officer who rang me all those years ago and basically asked me to come and help the new chief exec who they had just appointed at the time my predecessor. So, I agreed to come for, I think I said three months- 6 months max ermm and genuinely fell in love with Target in about 3- 6 days.

Interviewer: What made you fall in love with it?

Shaun: Where I had been before, we had built [the organisation] from virtually nothing up to a very big company and that was absolutely amazing and brilliant and enjoyable, when we got really towards the end we kind of fell apart a bit as a team and it wasn’t as enjoyable. When I walked through the doors of Target it was going back to how [his previous organisation] was originally when we started together and that feel, that vibe was what I fell in love with.

Interviewer: What do you think is Targets biggest strength right now (asked in May 2023)?

Shaun: It’s really cliché but it is true that the one and only thing that is Target is the people within it and I think that will always be the case. I think the fact that we’ve gone from where we were to where we are is amazing but its also all about the people who are here today, the people who were here yesterday and the people who will be here tomorrow, because they will take Target on forever.

Interviewer: What would you look back on with the most pride or sense of achievement or what is your greatest achievement [at Target]?

Shaun: Erm, taking that in reverse order, I genuinely think my greatest achievement is moving Target to a position that we now employ 185 people. That’s the thing I’m most proud of that we’ve got 185 people employed on a decent wage, I’m not pretending were the best payer on earth but we try as best we can. Just thinking back to when we had 20 odd people it was great but to now say that 185 have got employment, have got a chance at mortgages, rent and whatever that’s the greatest thing. What gives me satisfaction kind of in the job and things I always look back on with pleasure is the expansion and the growth. I really really enjoyed, particularly in the early days when we were frankly winning contracts from other organisations and there was a great feeling when we did that and developing stuff like asylum, Target dipped its toes into it before my time in 2005 and got badly burnt did not want to get back in and it took a lot of persuasion with the board and others to get us in there and once I had done that I think I always knew it was going to be an integral part of Target, and we were delivering something different that no one else in that field was delivering and that was exciting as well. Its not been easy.

Interviewer: If you had your time again, would you have done anything differently?

Shaun: Its going to sound weird but I bid in the early days on an offender contract in Rotherham and its haunted me ever since. It must be 10/12 years ago, I made an error on the workbook on my calculations and we lost that tender by 1 mark on that calculation and when it was pointed out it was such an obvious one and it’s kind of haunted me that we should have won that tender, that would’ve for me brought an awful lot to us.

Interviewer: What has been your highlight of your time at Target? Which also ties into the next question, what have been your highs and your lows?

Shaun: I think in terms plotting one highlight is extremely difficult because we’ve done so much and I think nothing that’s happened has happened because of me on my own, it happened because of me and the team and that team changes all the time and we achieve so much. I think when we took Target beyond the point of if we lost one contract it might have gone bust and gone under and we forget  now that for quite a long time Target was just Sheffield and then just Sheffield and Rotherham and if we had lost one of those contracts outright Target could have folded, so once we got beyond that and we knew we had got security and the entity of Target, that was really good. Moving on there have been individual highlights, we once very briefly, as Catherine (Finance Director) and Chris (Finance Manager) will attest to, we once had a million pounds, and that was just like one of those moments that you dream of and it didn’t last long but it was there briefly. I think some of the low points have been, ermm there’s been some personal ones that we’ve lost staff frankly to death and those really affect you and sometimes some of the service users we’ve lost can affect you and I think the personal lows outside of loosing people is when things kind of get mixed and I think occasionally we kind of loose our way as an organisation in terms of sometimes we can become too business like and I always have to pull us back to remembering that we are not a business in the sense of profit is not everything, it isn’t about that, its about people and about the fact that at the core of what we do is one to one interactions, support work with a client is a one to one interaction, the maintenance, cleaning are often one to one interactions and that’s the vital bit and when we forget that we loose our way and that’s my fear, I’ve always tried to pull us back from that.

Interviewer: Whats the memory that sticks out to you most from your time at Target?

Shaun: God ermmm I suppose the things that stick out again are back in the realm of winning tenders and getting them notification when they come through, they were just amazing times. Also in the early days is working with someone like my predecessor, he was a definite character, he was an unbelievable character, massively flawed in some ways and massively brilliant in others and he was somebody who I really liked working with, drove me nearly insane but we had a fairly decent relationship. I think that highlights are around people, who often are coming and going and I’ve always had that thing about if people leave happy and leave with good memories they are our supporters wherever they go, and I’m really happy when they get a better job somewhere else because I know that they will have helped Target if we have treated them right and if we have done the right thing, that’s what I strive to do. I think that more recently things like the getting social and sustainable capital to invest in Target, we are now up to 7 million pounds of investment from them and that’s massive you know that puts us in a different league. Working with the biggest out there teaches you a lot, the first thing it teaches you is that actually they are pretty rubbish at what they do, they are just very big and very rich and it always gives me confidence and pride that we do a lot of things a lot better. So, yeah, I think in terms of memories its wining contracts and the people.

Interviewer: What piece of advice would you give to the new CEO?

Shaun: Ermmm don’t do the job in the way I did it I think.

Interviewer: Why would you think that?

Shaun: Because I genuinely do this job 24/7 I can’t help it, it is the only way I know how to do the job, its not me being stupidly big headed. I do not know how to do the job except Sunday morning check my emails, Saturday check your emails, all the time I just keep doing it. I think it has over the years the job has taken precedence over family at times, it takes precedence over sensibility at times, I think there’s cleverer people than me who will do the job better.

Interviewer: So just more of a work life balance?

Shaun: Yeah, I think if we get off the depressing bit the other thing about this, this is an unbelievable company with unbelievable people from all levels working in it and I would say meet, enjoy and get to know the people because they are the ones that make you come in every morning.

Interviewer: What will you miss the most?

Shaun: Target I will miss deeply and I don’t know how, I genuinely don’t know how I’m going to deal without it. I’m supposed to deal with it by just walk away and forget it which won’t happen. How will I adjust initially will be a real challenge because I won’t have a phone that’s got all my emails at 6am in a morning for me to work through so I’m going to have to kind of get around that. I will I hope I will at some point in the future have some sort of connection, I’ll have connection to people, of course I will, I’ll be keeping in touch with people, but I will takeaway that if ever I get an opportunity to talk about what positive and professional support is I will be telling people that its Target and no matter where I am, I will carry the message and pass that on.

Interviewer: Do you have an exciting retirement plans?

Shaun: The retirement was kind of planned way back, simply because I knew I couldn’t keep this up forever you know. So, our plans you know lots of people know around me that were leaving Sheffield and going for a new adventure on the east coast and we’ve bought a house out there and never lived on the coast before so that’s all going to be new and we intend to try and take as many holidays as we can, whether we’re under canvas or whether we’re in a caravan, whatever who cares lets go and have adventures that way. A slower pace of life.

Interviewer: And lastly will you be coming back to visit us?

Shaun: I will come back if invited. The problem with coming back is you know frankly lots of people come back and everyone’s happy to see them but everyone has a job to do and I don’t want to come back and be that idiot hanging around saying you know ‘do you remember so and so’ when everyone else is really busy, got something else to do so I will happily come back whenever anyone wants me or if I’m in the area but I would hate to come back and be that bloody idiot that forever pops in, drinks coffee and buggers off.

Interviewer: Is there anything at all you would like to add?

Shaun: I think its going to be a very difficult time for me and I just kind of genuinely think the board has chosen my successor Steve and I couldn’t have wished for a better successor and I’m sure he is going to be amazing, and I’m sure he is going to take Target in directions I just wouldn’t think about which is what has got to happen to make it better and different. But I really just kind of wish everyone the greatest success and wish everyone’s happy.


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