Sally MacDonald FMA

Case study
“Innovates in areas of work of national, regional or local significance.”

Sally MacDonald FMA, director, museums and public engagement, University College London

I never set out to be innovative – I think I just get inspired quite easily, and quite often, by the ideas and the people around me.  I don’t believe that innovation ever comes about in isolation – it’s the result of a myriad of interactions, conversations, accidents and cock-ups that go on all the time. 

If I’ve been innovative it’s been because I’m lucky enough to work with extraordinary collections and people – it’s a matter of being open to ideas. 

I have been profoundly influenced by some of the museum professionals I’ve met from other countries, and by talking to people from outside the museum sector:  it’s good to be made to question why you do things a certain way.

I’m just about to take on responsibility for a theatre and, whilst right now I’m almost completely ignorant of that world, it’s very exciting to be thinking about how our museums and the theatre might interact in ways that might be quite new.

It helps of course that - in a university environment - innovation is highly valued. But there have been plenty of times in this and previous roles when I’ve played it safe, and later regretted doing so.

Where that’s happened, I think most of the barriers to innovation were nothing to do with rules or organisational culture – they were inside my own head.

Much of my own CPD is about building my own confidence, and helping those around me to build theirs – that way we can all support each other to do reimagine our work and ourselves.