Meeting Matthew Reed, Chief Executive on the mount
We each have a calling in life that unfolds under the most obscure of times. The Children’s Society’s new Chief Executive Matthew Reed is no different. When he was a teenager, he was stuck on a mountain for six hours in the dark winter, and said that it was ‘a very scary experience’.
During a lengthy conversation in his office this summer, Matthew explained that the harrowing experience on the mountain allowed him to consider how to spend his life.
When he came down, he wasn’t carrying ten new commandments, but a desire to train as a priest. His first degree was in engineering, and when training to be a priest, he studied theology – which he found ‘fascinating’ – and was one of the youngest training ministers.
His passion and enthusiasm could be seen in the trip he took to Africa for a year between university courses. He developed a leadership programme, which reflected his keen aspiration to work. His enthusiasm as a trained mountain expedition leader allowed him to pass his skills on to a group of young people in Africa.
The three keys: Love, self-confidence and others believing in them
I asked: 'What do you like so much about mountains?'
Matthew said: 'They are there to be climbed.' It's a sample of his direct yet logical outlook on things. Isn’t that the best outlook to have?
The years were to mould him for a young person-oriented profession, when he gained a job as a priest, mentoring young people in prisons.
I asked: ‘What three things does a young person need to get by?’
Matthew said: ‘Love, self-confidence and others to believe in them.’
I got the impression that he had picked the simple, yet valuable point from seeing many frustrated teenagers in prisons, many of whom possibly lacked in self-confidence. They are also the things that Matthew wants to ensure that children across the country receive.
Favouring working with people
Recently selected as Chief Executive, Matthew says that he enjoys ‘every aspect of his job’. An average week in this prestigious job is quite naturally busy, involving meetings with people from various other organisations and with staff and volunteers of the charity itself.
He speaks to politicians on a regular basis, and is keen to partner with people who share the charity’s vision. Speaking of the working with a wide range of people, he says he enjoys ‘working with people more than paperwork’.
Warm with smile and fresh with enthusiasm
His music tastes are adjusted to the twenty-first century, where he takes pleasure from listening to his children’s music.
'Do you think Lady Gaga is a bad influence on young people – in the way she dresses and sings?' I asked.
He does not think young people are overly influenced by popular culture, and most have the ability of depicting the truth from fiction in things. It’s no surprise, then, that he does not think the world is becoming a more wicked place.
Warm with smile and fresh with optimism, Matthew Reed was a pleasure to interview and his purpose is to leave the world a better place, than what he found it. I think that has already been achieved by him – this article shows that!