The Wise Group appoints Sean Duffy as its new chief executive

23 November 2017

One of Scotland’s leading social enterprises, the Wise Group, today announced the appointment of Sean Duffy as its new chief executive.

He will succeed current chief executive Laurie Russell, who is retiring after 11 years in the post, early in the new year.

The Wise Group transforms lives in Scotland and the north east of England and has been doing so since 1983. It makes a positive difference to people, communities and society by supporting customers to gain new skills and employment, reducing re-offending, regenerating communities and tackling fuel poverty.

Sean is currently commercial director of Newsquest Scotland and has an impressive senior leadership track record with a number of high profile organisations such as FirstGroup, National Express and STV Group. He is highly qualified and experienced in strategic leadership, business growth, stakeholder engagement and service delivery.

Stuart Patrick, chair of the Wise Group board of trustees, said:
“The Wise Group mission is to support and deliver change for the most disadvantaged people positively transforming their lives. Laurie has achieved much during 11 years with us. He has been an inspirational leader, not only for the Wise Group, but for the social enterprise movement in Scotland.

“The Wise Group board is delighted to announce that Sean Duffy has been appointed as the new chief executive. We had several very strong candidates for this post, but Sean stood out due to his excellent skills, knowledge and commitment to the values and culture of the Wise Group.

“He has a strong private sector track record and has been a leading player in securing and delivering high profile, complex public sector contracts, which is an important route through which the Wise Group delivers our mission and impact. In addition an important element of his background and skills is his non-executive board experience in third sector organisations.

“There are both opportunities and challenges for social enterprises over the next few years. So it is crucially important that we continue to grow and nurture our partnerships with private companies, public agencies and other social enterprises. We have the right person in place to take this vision forward and continue to play a major role in achieving positive change for communities in Scotland and North East England.”

Laurie Russell said: “It has been a privilege to work with a great group of staff, partners and trustees at the Wise Group and together we have made a huge impact on many thousands of people’s lives. I am confident, having met Sean, that he will be a great addition to the Wise Group team. Although I’m retiring, I will continue to be available in an advisory capacity for as long as I’m needed.”

Sean joins at a positive time for the Wise Group as it recently won one of the new Scottish Government Fair Start Scotland employability contracts for the West region. The new contract will start in April 2018 and is worth up to £8.6m.