Insight

A conversation with Kenneth MacKenzie

By David Smith | 29 March 2017

You first started your involvement with the care sector many years ago. What state was the sector in when you arrived, has it changed and what still needs to be done?

I was hugely impressed with the compassion and commitment shown by the care leaders in the businesses I was engaged with. If long hours were needed to ensure care was given, no questions were asked. Were care plans up-to-date? Was there an adequate and fit-for-purpose management structure in place? Was there clear career progression? Was adequate training and accreditation available for care staff? It was very clear to me that the bar needed to be raised; excellent people needed greater support and development and the whole sector needed to mature. Yes, things have changed and there has been some great progress but there is still more to do, as anyone can see by simply watching the news. But we hope that by doing what we do, to the best of our ability, we can have a part in that progress continuing.

What changes do you think we will see in the years ahead?

Social care is at the start of a period of sustained growth and increased professionalism, which will make it a fine sector to be involved in if the core principles of care and compassion are at the forefront for all stakeholders.

Target’s goal of Investing in Care, Delivering Returns has two meanings. When we say Investing in Care, we mean new long-term, lower return, stable money to the sector as we invest primarily in new, purpose-built homes, while also putting time and competence into our investing activities. We support the staff on the frontline by bringing best-in-class assets, locations and management teams to back up their work.

Delivering Returns has a double meaning also – we work hard to give our investors the returns commensurate with those anticipated as we raise the funds, but importantly, we also want to deliver a more holistic experience to our care staff who deliver the care needed for our clients.

How has your past career informed your work now?

Everything has of course added to what I do now. I trained as a chartered accountant, with the intention to be involved in business. I have enjoyed a varied career that I sometimes reflect has been a great training ground for my current role. In earlier years, I was involved in running a multi-site business with 60-plus teams, and I was only able to give face-to-face feedback for one day, every 28 days. Those experiences have given me a rich understanding of the challenges of larger care home groups. Motivating 600-plus employees to work in a coherent manner was challenging.

One of my roles at Target is to facilitate a strong ethos to enable us to meet our goals, as well as encourage a humble attitude across the business. We must always remember our responsibilities: the care staff, the cared-for, deliver value to investors, present the company well to all stakeholders and consistently strive to raise and support best practice.

If there is one overall lesson I have taken to heart, it is to learn from mistakes, embrace life-long learning, and keep a thirst for knowledge. As a young chartered accountant, I became the Managing Director of a 35-person business needing a turnaround. As I quickly learned, finance only records history, and does not create it. I recognised the need to develop general management skills, and developed a more relational view of the world.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

"Listen more than speak; we have one mouth and two ears, use them in that proportion. Consider life and purpose and why you are on this earth. ‘The Unexamined Life is not Worth Living’, Socrates"

Kenneth MacKenzie
Managing Partner of Target Fund Managers
Insight written by
David Smith
Senior Analyst

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