Mary Coyle, MBE was recently co-opted to the Shared Interest Board. Because we intend to appoint her as the new Chair of the Board, we are holding a postal ballot for members to give their view on her appointment as a Non-Executive Director, rather than wait for the next AGM. Her links with the organisation date back to 1996, when Mary became Regional Director at Common Purpose. At that time, Common Purpose had connections with Traidcraft as one of their staff members, Stuart Raistrick, sat on the Common Purpose Advisory Board. He went on to become Shared Interest’s Company Secretary that year. (Served 1996 - 2009) Coincidentally, Traidcraft’s Chief Executive at the time, Philip Angier became Chair of the Shared Interest Board of Directors in 2002.
Mary recalls hearing an interview with Philip on the radio where he was talking about the restructuring going on at Traidcraft around that time.
“IT WAS ABOUT 1997. I WAS IN THE CAR ON THE WAY TO VISIT A FRIEND AND MICHAEL BUERK WAS INTERVIEWING PHILIP ON THE RADIO. HE WAS TALKING FROM THE HEART ABOUT THE CHANGES THEY HAD TO MAKE AT TRAIDCRAFT. IT WAS SUCH A COMPELLING STORY THAT I REACHED MY DESTINATION BUT HAD TO PARK UP SO I COULD LISTEN TO THE CONCLUSION. WHEN THE INTERVIEW HAD FINISHED, I WAS COVERED IN GOOSEBUMPS AND KNEW THAT I HAD TO MEET THIS INSPIRATIONAL MAN.”
Mary continued: “Throughout my career I have been involved in work that has been about helping people reach their full potential, both personally and professionally. Shared Interest has that at its core too. By investing, members are giving farmers and handcraft makers the tools they need to create a better future for themselves. That’s what interests me most about the organisation – helping people to help themselves.”
Originally from Northern Ireland, Mary came to Tyneside in 1974 and began teaching at a school for children with learning disabilities in Jarrow until 1977. From there, Mary went to NACRO, where she stayed for the next 16 years, working with young offenders and helping them create a new life away from crime. As previously mentioned, Mary then went on to become Regional Director for Common Purpose (a leadership development organisation) in the North East and the Humber from 1996 until December 2006, following which she spent a year as Chief Executive of Aspire, a programme designed to encourage schools and businesses to work together in closing the skills gap.
Mary is a trustee of Newcastle University staff pension plan, a Deputy Lieutenant for the county of Tyne and Wear, and an advisor to Tyne Gateway, a local charity tackling child poverty. She is a member of Northumbrian Water Forum, an independent panel of people who challenge the decisions the company makes for the future of local water and sewerage services. She is also non-executive director of Gentoo Group, whose core business is social housing. She is also Deputy Lay Chair for North Tyneside NHS Clinical Commissioning Group.
As well as her commitment to the social and economic success of the North East, Mary talks passionately about the quality of life that she enjoys in what she refers to as ‘a wonderful part of the country.’ She has lived in North Shields for 25 years, ten minutes’ walk from the Longsands at Tynemouth. Mary said:
“WE HAVE A STUNNING COASTLINE, EXTENDING UP TO THE SCOTTISH BORDER, A MAGNIFICENT CULTURAL HERITAGE IN NORTHUMBERLAND AND COUNTY DURHAM AND ARE BLESSED WITH A WIDE RANGE OF LEISURE ACTIVITIES.”
Mary is also very interested in working with business people at the very initial stages of their careers. This passion for helping budding entrepreneurs ties in with Shared Interest’s charity, Shared Interest Foundation.
“I am delighted to join Shared Interest during a very important year and seek your support as fellow members. It is a joy to be part of an organisation that is continuing to thrive after 25 years, and the North East should be proud to be home to a not for profit business that changes lives of thousands of people across the globe.”
As an investor in Shared Interest, Mary is inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of businesses in the developing world. She said: “The majority of Shared Interest’s lending goes to producers in more remote areas across the globe and this means that people who have been unable to access fair finance have the funds they need to grow their business and allow their communities to thrive.”
We hope you have enjoyed reading more about Mary’s professional and personal reasons for joining the Board. Please use the voting card sent to you with QR or if you have access to the Secure Area use the online voting system to cast your vote on her election to the Board of Directors.