Episode 9 · 1 year ago

10: Irene Duncan


For National Mentors Day, Andrew speaks with his mentor, Irene Duncan, who is the former head of publishing at DC Thomson. Irene speaks about her experience as head of publishing and discusses helping young people at the Princes Trust and also what she enjoys about mentoring.

I my name is under Bauchor: I'm welcometo Dundecast a portcast shlcasoned, an these amazing people on a new potformsharing their stories under ospirations onto these episodes. We speak tosomeone who I work very closely with her names Ira Duncan, who is my maintorand I was wanting her to be a guest on the portcast, because Toda with thisAbsu being released, is actually on national maintar day and I feel likeit's a good opportunity to the discuss, wit Iren, all the experiences shes hadwith maintering young people, including myself, specifically and herexperiences of working in journalism and also Wer al about what she has doneto be whorse. She used to do to welcome. I readn I was on to first ask like Co.Do all the gests Thau interview is who you are and what you do as brief aspossible K, theywell my name's idindonkinais, my mannyd name, and I amretired, a in my working wife. I started my first job at seventeen, myfirst chull time, job at DC, Thompson's in Dundee, and am delighted to see thatI had hforty very challenging and in the mean verty happy years there. When you talk about with your firstcool time, job at DECI Thompson. How did you get into that profession whereyou always wanted to be a journalist on what type of things got you into thatprofession? And how did you get there right? When I was little? I alwayswanted to be a fit, and then things changed and moved on and I went when Iwas in fifth year at school I went to Ardlos high school and there was aciudious convention on and by this time I had an interest in journalism, but Isaw myself as a war correspondent or something you know of that Ilk. But Iwent along to this convention and I met two editors there from DC Tomsus whowatced one of them was on the BIMBOL was a comic and the other one was inboyspapers as well, and the these two men totally inspired me. I just thoughtthat would be such a fantastic job, so I wrote to the company, I said: Ta'dstart my hires and I was really interested in working for them and theyreplied and invited me Infon an interview now this was before I evenhad the results of mathnahires and I went along and I had to sit variousexams that taste did everything from thy usage of the English language to mygeneral knowledge, and then I was interviewed by roughly six or seven ofthe editors and, by the end of the day, had done a God job and I was offered tojob at the end of that did, and I started a fortnight later. I wasabsolutely over the moon. I couldn't believe it and actually, when I startedmy work and I goght paid, I can't believe I get paid money for doing this.I T on my first day there and still fandly, with some of them d all theseyears later and there were some compoint and utter nutters and fo toarcompletely off the wall. I want my way up the company and I was sent quiteoften down to London whether to do t cover shits or fashioned shots and Viliit was. It was hard. It was not the easiest job in the world. Bat extemelysatisfying. What was your first Jobdisho to there's only a kilout. My first job at DC Thomson was rating.The horoscopes for the coody of the...

...grass wines were always Jame, and Icause that was my my starside. So I wrote the stars, forthe veculiarand also back in those days there was an a poplication on Thi Antoday. It wasthe Sportan Post and in that apartonal the sport there was a short of detecivehstorical Dixon, Hawk and used to Sov these as well so ilamd the basics ofsubbing. Within the fiction department, Tats witer started. How did you detpromoted? What was next p after that things been very, very deffeant back intheis days, Ido that m you didn't apply for the promotion. You were given it.If the boss thought that you were worth the job som of these thing. andquiteoften it could be a case of being in the right place at the right time, andI often was I was looking tat way, but I did always watk hard an dimmer bestthat that's h was an Ati Mi in Dosetis men were paid formore than women wear,but that changed over the years as well. When I started you didn't really getwomen editors that changed over the years as well. Thankfully, what was sorthe the challenges when you started doing stuff at DC Thompson? I would saythat my Kidiad, when I started at DC Thompson's the company, taught me moreabout the English language than I learned at school. There was a definitestale that you had to follow. An an also arcuracy was considered essential.There was nose of Ety twenty ruling, theisdays everthing had to becompletely acculate, and you know me very well and I'm such a fosport, and Iwould see that that was ba to my ellyds, of everything having to be Pese forown,that the other thing that came, I wenthim to do atestart my cyed, becauseI began in the fiction department, lend the bisics of editing and then I waspon,the Women's magazine called CICRETS, and it was based and made of sight, andI was a junior. So in those days with another Cantina Dane thing, I was saintto the local shoppy to get krisps and things like that. For the morningcoffee and the summer time I was sad to the ice skiim shop and the challengewas to get ICTAN back to the office without it melting all the way op yoursleeve, so I leaned rigt from the bottom up to the cort, but also becauselife wasn't digital. In those days the case Room Fror, my magazine, it was inBank Street and undee and twice a deed. I ran from Medsita Bank street with thepeages and if there wer other pages, I had to run up to the forth floor andwent in a chip. They went underneath the house underneath the grave yard whotopped up at the other end. So I wert very very closely with the guys in theCastrom and Nat, not with a bit of a challenge as well, because they wentethey had a real sense of humor D ut. If you go onwell with these guys, W gotthe end. thefor, really good, guys. teally enjoyed thet lo a tremendousamont of office banter a lot of it, probably not politically correct.That's PITN, O Mywi. I want you to have a Vey, thick skin, and so you becamehead of publishing for Com accent. How did you get? OAT promotion was, andwhat was your reactions when you first got to that when you were bank Mso, Istarted as a junior on women's magazines and then I became a cheapstop and then ever came an editor and I launched an apregnacy title I andwarked on a danced Magazina dance and fitness magazine, and then I was andwaited to take over the women's magazines when my boss, retired...

...and then the person who was in chargeof the comic site of things she was leaving the company, and I was asked ifi Wud Tok over t the comic saint as well. So I had responsibility for alltheug adult antchildren's publications, but I was very much ane. I was verymuch part of the team. I wasn't a one man band. I worked closely with thehead of circulation, the head of advertising, the head of marketing ofwhat very cosely with Achad when that was brought into the company, which wasa big change for the Loto stuff. We never had echild in the company beforeso I was madeum a changed champion to encourage people to take that on boardand there was very much Una learning a environment that came to being it wsaying W, not courseas ECCETRA, which a lot of people found that quite skedy,but that didn't really bother me ecause. They always welcomed laning, somethingnew and I always thought you know for if you even lefourteen percent, is tenpercent more than you knew before, and I all saw it. Ithad made the circle ofmy contant Becker. I would sae the best thing about my jow voice. It was sovaried and I met such tremendous people. I mean I met people that weldn't quitesotrogengous as well, but that Totyo hatust advive with the W ows a hugeresponsibility overseeing like comic a not being published over. She not wasthere any personal challenge for you that Tamebeos, like overseen, bigpoplications like the Bino and the Dand, and all this sort of stuff tit's. Quiteyou know something that Aal people who would be in axition would be lik hatethis at Fistan, thenall of a sudden time, but wh t what was the personalchallenge that you fishd personal idea when quain things were changing withinthe publications, some of the staff felt quite uncomfortable with some ofthe changes aand. It could make that quite difficult for me to bring newthings on board. The other thing was that, where I sat, I didn't have my ownoffice. I sat right in the middle of the entire floor and the Bino Boys, asI call them, sat right behind me one. I can remember one particular Fridayafternoon. It was quite chicky. I was explaining to them what was going tohappen and the way Wan't happy and it was really quite hard awayng and I wasglad to get outof the office. That night and I came back in on the Monday.One of the guys who stat right behind me emailed me tosee I'm sorry about flady. I hope it doesn't spoil our relationship and Ijust turned and gave hem the thumbs up 'cause. I totally understood thatchange can be very, very difficult and people. You know w t the don go out tobe difficult for you. Sometimes it just need a we bit more time. THUTM. Youcan't expect everybody to do things at the same piece. ECAUSE people arepeople and working in that environment, Youre working with a law of creativepeople who can be quite challenging- and I include myself in that- Iprobably was quite a difficult member to staff as well. It takes whad face.Would you give to somebody who wants to get involved in journalism ecause? Alsoyou start veryairily and like what steps would just encourage SOMWHO wantsto get involved in that sort of sector. I I think getting into employment intoday's world is much much harder than it was an ID and there were fine ordopportunities ut. I WUL IHELP A lot of people, young people with their S BSand help them give that stand out and make them a Le Bit more individualbut think Youre developing yourself as a a character and in journalism y. Youreally just need to keep at it. If it's...

...something that fires you up insine andyou have that determination just keep going at it. There are so manydifferent types of journalism and media now than the Wer. When I started off sin, it's just different. It's the seemas every other kileopathic. It changes E'. There's no SA thing, but just thinkhave that determination? You will approach Peop, don't be afraid toapproach people. It's you know it. It does get a bit dishearteling when youget Um rejection after rejection after nOjection, but you just have to keep on going and grab every opportunity thatyou can when you ar DC Thompson. What did you do? Tha Afterwards Que, when Ilaughed, I did some feelines like, but while I'd been at ant des Thompsince,I'd got involved in working and doing some voluntarly Wak for Maggie Santer and the person who was in charge ofthat happened to be Marrie to the person who was in charge of thePrincess Tust in change of the volunteers, and he got in touch with meand said we'd I like to come in for a chart to see if I coul, maybe laidahindter, which I did and I'm still a volunteer for the princes trust to deand in fact of Asim call with them. Liter ontode and I found it Temendoswolking with the young people. What I would say about my life at DecyThompson's was particularly at the time I was there. You were very much part ofthe family and you were well taken care of mean. I was seventeen years oldstarted, whar moved Inta, flant the thought of pansions or orsuperraniation never ever crossed my mind hat the FEOM. Just kindof took kiothat for you so that today I don't I'm not millionaire, but I don't have anymoney bodies, particularly because of the way they looked after me and thetastid, the stuff in all it saw. But when I laft the company and I gotinvolved with working with a princess, Tust and other Erias with young people,it made me far more aweird of the challenges that young people FESETO DI.It could be in the job's market that could be mental health. It could be allsorts of different things and I get tremendous satisfaction from workingwith young people. Well, you can see that I would sae the relationship Ihave with yourself and to that. That means as much to me as I hope it meansto you. When was the moment you want to know, I want to help other people you'Ldo wl meanwoing to mention what what made you want to do that PT. Whathappened to was the princes tustis changed quite a bit alterote year sinceID joined, and when I joined it was really. The focus was on supportingyoung people to launch the own business, so my business expedience was helpfulto them. To do that, then what happened was that the princess trust in Scotlandjoined more sor with the trust in England, and the focus then became notso much on launching businesses but really wensupporting young people ingeneral, and that's when my mentoing duly began to take off. I had meinted anumber of young people who wear launching businesses, but then I wenton to menter more on just general support of life. It's taught me as muchas I hope that I've been able to give to them. It gives you IGREAT insite usto as to see the chillenges tha the young people feece that you kind of getcaught up in your on situation. I mean I'm happily mired with two grown upsons and that's I don't want to appear to somoke about that 'cause. I don'tfeel that way, but you know I look at what my own family has and then I lookat other young people and the Reawy do...

...have a lot of hardship to facementering. This been something that you've been doin. What with me, I eanyou're, my personal maintor and you've helped me aware waof this stuff. Whatdo you enjoy about Iswhen? You think the more successful a times ofmentioning when you build a relationship with the person thatyou're with whether it's a young person or an older person. It doesn't matter,it's all to do with trust, and particularly if I talk about therelationship that you and I have deveiloped onto, I feel that we have avery honest and open relationship, and sometimes I I'm able to see things toyou that th t tit could be quite hard thatthey're realistic about business. But I get tremendous satisfaction whenI sat back and I look up whether it's yourself or other people that havedealt with and seen how they've grown over the years, th Iam very muchinvolved with. U? U Person In in Dundee who has a business called how it faildand the person who runs ot davs, is to do with poppetry and she watc withmaintal healt. So she- and I also have unreally- do e good relationship Ubonbit. pigadish labors with the pixes just that tha, your delitionships,would only last teseve the Mak of Tame but thecause of Ho relitionships havedeveloped with my young people even for six seven years down the lane, I'mstill meeting people and it's it's really really nice. I really like it.Do you think, going from being this, the heat of publishing comics not to tomentor, and do you feel there's there's a huge cheft on O or was IT BEC? I wasgoing into that new field kingdom. You know something new, but from theobviousy you'v mentioned fromthe experiences that you had from DCThompson and also you're doing your feeling work as well d. You thinkthat's had an impact on Yu healting, it mentrn as well. Definitely I probablylened more business wise in my time. As I say I was with the company for fortyyears and as far as businesses consened, I proably lend more in the last tenyears than the Suchy plevious ones, because the focus then was or aneditorial continent et Cetera, and I wasn't so much involved in the businessside of things. But I learned a awful lot in thoseyears and about walking together with people in different departments, so treally th. All that experience helped me that I was able to put in to youngpeople that I was mentioning and be able to look at the assigation and nottell them what to do, but just make suggestions of what might work or couldwork for them. But EM. I've enjoyed both experiences, but I think beinginvolved with maintering and with the prince's trustic Etr has made me grewas a person an its had. Quite I majred influenceain on myself over the yearswas the Coverdningtin Pan Dmicta in n the world right now. How has effectedwhat you're doing I mean? I know we've been having anterfuse for Osim and as that, what you've been doing withother people as well and hose Sfrom what your curr doing it's. Certainly it has changed thingsdramatically: it's much more difficult to develop delation chips, starting onZom, if you but askd, because we had made feast of face for such a long timet at continued. That relationship to resume is not a problem, but, to startfrom a digital point is, is trickier and it's actually one of the things I'mgoing to be discussing. Toda anmost...

Inca with the pences trust, was came ofthe challenges of Wek, doing maintran flu throusome and what kind of thing?What positives would you say was there when doing that, and I think that arepositives, and one of the great positives is that we are actually ableto do that. Could you imagine if we didn't have that platform people wouldbe left completely isolated? I also think the Princess Trosistago aheadorganization- and it covers from the Veryfar Northo Scotland Drak to the farSath of England so having this facility to speak to somebody Seein, theshetlands. You know wh t it's really good to be able to do that and what'scending to happen within the trust. Is that we're all wolking across Scotlandrather than just specifically in your one Erea, so really the Pancam? It hasmade us look at things in a different way and to make the best of what wehave. What face? Would you give to someone who was to be in in a positionof maintering somebody and F Y Yo y F, there's somebody who is wanting to getinvolved in maintering? What atface from your experiences? Would you giveto that person? I think one of the most importantthings is to be able to listen it's to give the person youmentoing theopportunity to to build that trust, so that you, you understand, te be thatmind, works and the we their emotions, work, don't try and rush things. Don'ttry to push them into Mein. Certain decisions. Keep the conversation open, build thattrust between you and to me. That's the way it works and be interested toknawabout yourself. What you feel Bas Wella, who gaves menr from you and I feel likefrom from my end, it's really helpful, because Li e, I thinke since you'veMaof me, I've been more roastic in my approach to you know, do what I do andyou've kind of helped me in that way of. You know geting to understand businessa bit more because when I stard in before I met you, I rean. I kind offeel like I was want to do this. I want to do that without an rolustic approachto how I do it and I feel like that is the most important thing to Kno how fora mentor of that X, experience that you've had and then ham have thatrexperience kind of gon o from my experience s s. What I think you shoulddo in this realistic approach and that's what feel like its quite important toyou know, have e from somebody who has a Walth of experience and like media,for instance, and that's how I feelike from Y. From my perspective, that's howit's helped me from your advice and that I think it's being able to behonest with the person but to be able to deliver information in Um in anunderstanding way that you just don't go, fill pell at somebody and seeyou're wrongbout that you're wrong about at that, and you need to do this.You need to do that that week to me, that's not the week to do it. It mighttake a bit longer the way that I'm talking about. I think the engesult ismuch much better for both partities. I think it's more. It makes me feel LiCim in the Rak job and the best job for the person and again it just gives youthat time to build with each other and understand the challenges tha and aredifferent for every single person. How long woul no Wa take for you to youknow, get that process of having like meeting a person. You would want tomake that ONC to get meintored to go into a place where they're comfortableenough to BECOM nowlike without withme.

You I's been about two years sincewe've, since we started me Ann O, not time, Fram, Te, we'v kind ofkind of a my confidence as different with other people as well andwhatledevery situation is completely different. Sometimes I meet up with ayoung person and, from the from the word, go you're all you're both on thesame page. You know Y, you understand one another and is just a case ofkeeping building or nat other times it can take, maybe three or four metingsbefore it depends where the individual's coming from. But there isno point in rushing it, but theres there's no Sayt Tame ittiques. It couldtake nottime at all or it could take e Alengthy time. But from my point ofview, I'm a real M grafter and IM never willing to give up on somebody. That would always be. I would like themto know that was always there for them: Fanquitoiridn Forlo, Ameson, interfeweN, I'm very lucky to Hav in Thas anter, because it's very important to you knowof someone who has a Mo experience to guade you to know where you go, and Ireally appreciate ire being there for me helping me from annextep as Iprogress an lief if you like, dundicast, why notconsider subscribing on sportified, chining or appoport casts, and if youlike, the content, I produce. Why not consider a monthly donation on dundeculture's new coffee page. Thank you very much and I can't wait to see youin the next episode.

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