Staff Profile: Ali Smith – Project Officer

In the last newsletter, we profiled one of the two project officers at CLS. This time, it’s the turn of the second one – Ali Smith. Ali has a degree in Community Arts and 13 years experience working with a diverse range of community groups and individuals.  She joined us in 2006 and is involved in environmental and arts projects working within urban and rural areas of Scotland.

Describe your current role at CLS:

As a Project Officer, my role includes writing funding applications for projects that may be helping to sustain community centres, combating people living in hardship, enhancing people’s skills to help them move closer to employment and for environmental and landscaping projects. All very different, which makes the job interesting. More recently, I have been involved with feasibility studies and I network a lot with organisations to develop and implement projects and collate the relevant information to write monitoring reports for clients and funders.

What attracted you to this job/position?

I came to CLS from a job in community development and also from an arts background, so initially, when I first started work at CLS I worked on projects that used art to enhance, brighten up and regenerate deprived areas, plus I was out and about working with the local community developing projects, which was perfect for me.

Describe the typical day of a project officer at CLS. If no two days are the same, provide some examples of what might be on your to do list.

I always start of the day by checking my emails and completing any tasks from these. I like to go from one project to another within one day, unless I have specific funding or monitoring deadlines. I don’t know where I’d be without post-its. I keep my to-do list in front of my monitor. Lately, I’ve been working on projects that are at the development and implementation stages, so [I’ve been doing] a lot of networking with partners to decide who is doing what and how a project will work. At the implementation stage, I’m following up with partners to ensure that things are running smoothly, which in the life of project work would be a miracle; however it does help when it comes to developing future projects.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

I like the development stage of a project, working with partners to decide how things should best come together, who will be involved and how the project should be carried out. However, this can be a lot of networking and time to get this right, so this is a challenge. Once a project is implemented, it’s a different kind of challenge, ensuring a project is working to timescale, so my day can be spent trying to catch up with people by email or phone to find out how things are progressing or how to adapt a project to fit in with unforeseen changes. No two projects are alike; however, it is always a learning curve, which is what I really like in a job.

What is your greatest work accomplishment?

I’ve worked on some fun projects while at CLS. Some years ago I worked in Faifley using art as a tool to regenerate the local area. I worked with the two local housing associations and primary schools to develop and implement three projects over three years that enhanced children’s knowledge of recycling and appreciation for the natural environment. The outcome was the installation children’s drawings and digital artwork on new litter bins, a wildlife trail that included information and interpretation panels and artwork on the gable end of a building. My role was funding procurement, management of overall budget, appointment and management of artists and written programme of activities, negotiations and appointment of litter bins, information panels and gable end manufacturers, providing regular updates and reports and organising and implementing final events/opening ceremonies.

What is your worst habit at the office?

I asked around the office for this one. I use exclamation marks way too much!!!

If you weren’t doing this job, what would you like to do?

Something to do with working in the arts field or going back to study; this would be arts too.

What is your life like outside CLS? Ali kayaking

This has been a crazy busy year. I’ve been to six of seven weddings so far; I could be a wedding planner. Otherwise, I spend time with family and friends at my caravan on the west coast having fun with BBQs, boats, trail walking, kayaking or surfing and when I have time I create my own fine art. I also love to travel.

What would be a perfect day when you’re not at work?

That’s easy. I’d be at my caravan.

Filed Under: CLS


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