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Sophie McKechnie, Projects and Partnerships Manager

Hyde is good at identifying potential and giving people the space to grow

Sophie McKechnie

Sophie McKechnie has come a long way since she started at Hyde in 2013, covering a 10 month maternity post as a social investment project co-ordinator.

Today her role of Projects and Partnerships Manager, Successful Places, in the Hyde Foundation involves initiating partnerships to address community challenges.

“The focus is on two areas: creating positive pathways for young people and improving the health and wellbeing of older people. Our team acts as a catalyst and broker creating connections to bring people together; we don’t deliver the projects ourselves,” she explains.

Sophie has been in this role since July 2016 and says ‘it’s exciting and outward-looking’.

“I feel the work we’re doing to support communities to be resilient is useful and necessary, so I have the drive to do my job. It’s a great role if you’re an all-rounder. Every day is different - I love the variety.

“There’s a lot of creativity involved in my role; you’re always challenged to come up with new ideas and novel ways of doing things. I could spend one day editing a video or writing a funding proposal and the next going to meet with a new partner or visiting a sheltered scheme. You get to use lots of different parts of your brain, which is good.”

Before joining Hyde, Sophie worked in a parenting support charity doing business development, having graduated a few years earlier. “I fell into housing I suppose, but I was always interested in social responsibility-type roles, so it made good sense.”

It was during her 10 month cover, where she was involved in fundraising and award-writing that she was charged with developing Hyde’s Digital Inclusion Strategy.

“I’ve been given a lot of opportunities throughout my time at Hyde to develop and take on more responsibility. Hyde is good at identifying potential and giving people the space to grow.”

When the time came to recruit for a Digital Inclusion Project Manager, Sophie’s line manager insisted she apply. She got the job.

“When the post was first advertised, I had reservations about applying as the role was quite senior and I’d not been at Hyde for long, but my manager was really encouraging.”

What she learnt from this was: that you have to take opportunities when they arise and put yourself forward for things.

Sophie went on to excel in the role. “I was given the responsibility - the autonomy - to get on with it. And it was so satisfying to be able to design and see your project through to the end; you don’t always get the opportunity to do that in companies.”

The project – and the profile it got - exceeded both Sophie’s and other people’s expectations. “We supported 1,500 residents to increase their digital skills, and even worked with City Hall and the Cabinet Office to shape their policies so it was time well spent.”

Sophie was put forward for the NHF Young Leaders in Housing Award in 2015 where she reached the semi-finals. “It was a good challenge. I presented my vision of what social housing should focus on at the National Housing Federation.”

“Hyde is good in the way it puts people (not only senior managers) forward for high profile events so they can stretch themselves and achieve. I spoke at the BT Tower in front of hundreds of people, something I would not have thought possible when I first joined the organisation.”

Sophie says her team is wholly supportive: “We have an open environment and one that is based on trust. You’re given plenty of responsibility and flexibility which I really value; I’m fortunate that there’s a strong focus on individual development.”

She’s learned a lot from Hyde in a few short years.

“Hyde’s a good organisation to work for; never under-estimate what you can gain from being employed by a large company with all its infrastructure and resources. All the training, professional qualifications, mentoring and guidance will stand you in good stead whatever you plan to do in the future.”

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