Neal Meets....National Trust

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 National Trust

This month, Neal Lucas, MD of the Executive Search Firm, Neal Lucas Recruitment Ltd meets with Heather Thompson, Regional Director of the National Trust.


What are the key aims for the National Trust over the next few years?

In April 2015 we will celebrate the conclusion of the £7.5m restoration project at Mount Stewart – a project that will bring this famous house back to its former glory. We have exciting plans for the wider demesne at Mount Stewart too and that will keep us busy for the next decade at least!

Regionally our focus will be on land, outdoors and nature. In Northern Ireland we look after more than 200 buildings and outdoor places across 46 square miles of beautiful countryside and farmland. We also look after 15% of our coastline here.


As a key player in tourism, and with more than 2.5 million visitors every year we will also continue to focus on providing the best visitor experiences.


What process do you use for strategy formulation?

We have an inclusive planning process involving staff and volunteers which helps us to build a regional business plan. That spirit of teamwork is really important to us.

Our core purpose is to look after special places forever, for everyone – so we look far beyond the next five or 10 years.  We’re aware that decisions we make today will have an impact in more than 100 years. That’s a big responsibility.


What key attributes of your leadership are important in delivering your strategy?
For me it’s about my own commitment to our environmental work. I truly believe that we need to manage our natural resources in a different way in order to leave this place better than the way we inherited it.


I’m also committed to getting the best from my team. We can get amazing results through identifying the best people to lead on projects and providing coaching support to help them develop.


Finally, I’m very competitive, so that really spurs me on to deliver results!


What are the most important decisions you make as a leader?

Having the right people is essential so that we use our resources effectively. As a charity it’s also important to invest our funds wisely. We have so many differing needs to consider and there is never enough to do everything – so prioritisation is key.


How do you extract complementary skills from your team to enable strategic objectives to be delivered?

Although we have up to 500 staff in peak season, we are incredibly lucky to have the support of 6,200 volunteers locally. Without that support network we simply couldn’t do what we do. That gives us a huge pool of talent, from experts in fabric and wallpapers to specialists in wildlife and conservation.


The challenge is bringing all that amazing knowledge together.


Do you have a definition of leadership?

Leadership is ultimately about getting results. It is up to me to get the best performance from my team through creating the right culture, setting a clear direction and celebrating our successes. 


You can contact Neal Lucas on 028 9268 8818 or by visiting