DAVID RITCHIE, THE RECENTLY APPOINTED CHIEF OFFICER & SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE REPRESENTATIVE CHURCH BODY OF THE CHURCH OF IRELAND, TALKS TO PETER CHENEY OF THE C of I PRESS OFFICE ABOUT HIS PLANS FOR THE ROLE.
DAVID, CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR CAREER TO DATE?
I have had a varied career. After studying Civil Engineering at Trinity College in Dublin I joined Concern, the Irish relief and development agency, designing and building refugee settlement centres in Cambodia. And then I went to Rwanda during the 1994 genocide developing refugee camps, sanitation and water programmes. Following my overseas experience I trained as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG before joining ESB Internal Audit and then finally moving to DLL Group, part of Rabobank, where I worked for fourteen years leading the investment side of the business.
DO YOU SEE YOUR PREVIOUS BACKGROUND AS RELEVANT TO YOUR NEW ROLE?
I was asked a similar question doing my interview for the RCB position. I have always had an interest in finance and engineering, and also an interest in faith and church. This role in the RCB allows me bring together both these interests. I have being discussing and thinking a lot about the strategy and role of the RCB, and the recurring challenge as I currently see it is how can the RCB best facilitate and support the Church of Ireland, in the South and North, for new churches and established churches, for the present and also for the future.
BASED ON YOUR FIRST FOUR MONTHS IN YOUR NEW ROLE, HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE ROLE OF CHIEF OFFICER & SECRETARY GENERAL?
It is a very broad role. I am very thankful for having three months’ overlap with Adrian Clements, the outgoing Chief Officer, who was very patient with all my questions. In summary, the RCB has a responsibility for the investments, finance, property, legal advice, trusts, clergy payroll and Synod services as well as supporting various organisational projects. The Chief Officer & Secretary General is responsible for setting the vision, direction and strategy, as well as managing and establishing the control structures of the RCB.
YOU MENTIONED ‘VISION’ AS ONE OF YOUR ROLES. HOW DO YOU CURRENTLY SEE THE RCB AND WHERE DO YOU SEE IT GOING?
The RCB has an excellent team of people. As I reflect on your question, I am reminded of a leadership book ‘Good to Great’ by Jim Collins where he uses the analogy of a bus arguing that the first stage to building great organisations is to get the right people on board, the next stage is to begin the journey. I look forward to this journey with the team at the RCB. So over the next year one of my key objectives will be to articulate this vision for the RCB. But I am also aware the vision is built on values and the values that I hope to develop would include accessibility, efficiency, reliability and a passion for what we stand for and what we do.