David McColgan - Senior Policy and Public Affairs Manager, British Heart Foundation
What is your current role?
My current role combines my interest in politics whilst allowing me to make a difference to people’s lives across Scotland. The British Heart Foundation is an amazing place to work. It's so inspiring working with world class researchers who have dedicated their entire careers to tackling cardiovascular disease and amazing to watch researchers who are starting their careers.
My position offers many great opportunities to engage with our researchers, those living with cardiovascular disease and those taking on amazing feats to raise funds in memory of loved ones they have lost to ensure no other families experience the same fate
How do you use the experience you gained at the University of Stirling in your current role and throughout your career?
Much of my role is focused on building arguments and countering opposing views. With this in mind the analytical skills I developed from essay writing are vitally important. The ability to digest and condense large bodies of research into short sharp arguments is definitely a key skill I took away from my time at University. However not all skills were not honed in the library. The inter-personal skills I developed at University are as, if not more, important thank academic ones. Joining clubs and societies at University, meeting new friends, and leaving my comfort zone were all just stepping stones to building my career.
What made you choose the third sector to work in?
When I was at University I never really knew such a job existed and had never heard of the third sector. I left University and joined the Scottish Government as a policy adviser. During this period I became aware of the size and scale of these organisations and when the opportunity came to join one I jumped at it.
Probably more importantly is the question what keeps me here? After 10 years I couldn’t imagine working in any other sector. The diversity of the organisations, the campaigns, the issues and the people it is such a vibrant place to work. I could never imagine lobbying for a private company driven by profit.
My skills in political engagement and influencing are best used to help improve people’s lives and ensure those without a voice have one.
What do you like most about your current role?
My current role combines my interest in politics whilst allowing me to make a difference to people’s lives across Scotland. The British Heart Foundation is an amazing place to work. It is so inspiring working with world class researchers who have dedicated their entire careers to tackling cardiovascular disease and amazing to watch researchers who are starting their careers.
My position offers many great opportunities to engage with our researchers, those living with cardiovascular disease and those taking on amazing feats to raise funds in memory of loved ones they have lost to ensure no other families experience the same fate.
What have been your career highlights?
My number one highlight was when a special adviser for the Scottish Government called me to tell me that the Scottish Government would introduce legislation to change the organ donation laws from an opt-in model to an opt-out one. My father-in-law died whilst waiting for a lung transplant and after three and half years of campaigning I know first-hand how big a difference this legislation can make to families across Scotland.
The launch of the Scottish Government’s strategy to improve survival rates from out of hospital cardiac arrest was another highlight. Having led the campaign on behalf of BHF Scotland it was great to see the body of evidence come together in a government strategy and subsequently see survival rates increase across Scotland as part of the work all partners have undertaken thanks to the strategy.
It was also a great privilege to be part of the lobbying team that secured the ban in smoking in vehicles where children are present. This piece of legislation will protect generations of children from the harmful effects of second hand smoke and undoubtedly provide positive health outcomes.
What did you enjoy about your time at the University of Stirling? What are your favourite memories?
I had many great times at Stirling and there are so many memories, first day moving on campus, first person you meet, the awkward first day in the kitchen when you meet 12 or so strangers; it is all filled with great memories.
I am lucky to have left with a really good group of friends who have went from graduation, to marriages, to children, to moves around the world and we are all still in touch and I think that always personifies Stirling to me. It is a community that you’ll always belong to and it is amazing where you’ll meet another graduate.
If you could give current University of Stirling students’ one piece of advice, what would it be?
Get the full student experience. University is a place where you work harder but play harder. Join clubs, try a new sport, enjoy a few late night drinks but make sure you take advantage of the four years you are at Stirling. You’ll find out things about yourself the further you get away your comfort zone and embrace it.
Where do you hope to be in five years’ time?
A grown-up? Ha ha ha! I’d like to think I’ll be a slightly older version of myself, not too jaded and still as passionate about helping people as I am today.