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Me & My Job - Angela MacFarlane, engagement & learning head, Kew

Grow, 01 April 2011

Angela MacFarlane, engagement & learning head, Kew - image: HW
Angela MacFarlane, engagement & learning head, Kew - image: HW

- How did you get started?

My first degree was in botany and zoology. I see myself as a biologist and educationalist with a great love of horticulture. You can't fail to notice what tends to happen when money gets tight - organisations that don't have strategic objectives to provide education, as Kew does, tend to look at education as one of the first things they stop doing. One of the strengths of Kew is that we take providing horticulture and plant science very seriously.

- What does your typical day involve?

I don't think I ever have a typical day in this job. I try to make sure I spend some time in the garden at least once a day, usually on the way in or on the way out. It is absolutely vital to keep in touch with why we're here. I have a great team. There are 10 areas of the business I'm responsible for and eight people report to me. I will see at least one or two of them every day and also spend time writing strategic documents and consulting people at Kew. My key job is to make sure people here are as "joined-up" as possible and give the best-value offer.

- What is your greatest achievement?

I only started this job on 1 February but before, when I was director of content and learning, my greatest achievement was delivering the Great Plant Hunt, a treasure chest resource, to 23,000 schools. We have got good evidence that 14,000 schools are interacting with the project. There is also the new outdoor play area at Kew.

- What does the future hold?

We have great plans that I want to bring in around the redevelopment of the Temperate House. Kew is starting a fund to restore this, one of the world's most iconic and beautiful buildings associated with horticulture. It is an eight-year project that will launch in the summer. We're negotiating for the initial capital at the moment.

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