Name, age, profession – Marisa Scullion, 39, Head of Partnerships
With over 10 years experience working at Board and C Suite level as a senior Executive Assistant Marisa Scullion is a confident, approachable and articulate communicator. She joins Sportside from PizzaExpress where she was a key player in a global C Suite virtual team, building and nurturing strong relationships with their parent company partners in China, interacting with senior stakeholders and their clients while successfully building strong working relationships over many levels throughout the business. With a passion for using business to do good and a love of sports, she will thrive in her new role as Head of Partnerships for Sportside where she will be responsible for sourcing and engaging with Sportside partners for active projects, building relationships with the Sportside Ambassadors and aiding in their promotion and events.
Marisa has a MA Honours degree In Social Anthropology from the University of St Andrews where she first met Founder and CEO Xan Varmuza
How did you get started? After school I attended St Andrews University where I spent the best four years of my life. I met some of the coolest people I know, built strong relationships, lasting memories then graduated with an MA Hons degree in Social Anthropology. It was a superb starting block for me, and I jumped right on in by moving to London.
After a few fun jobs I ended up at Pizza Express where I stayed for 10 years as the Executive Assistant to the Group CEO and Group CFO. It was a superb place to work with constant innovation, forward planning and big ideas thinking daily.
After partnering with Chinese Private Equity company Hony capital in 2014 the doors opened further to Asia and new ways of working became my world. It came to a natural end after the birth of my second child and with the full backing of my CEO to constantly push myself further, I jumped right on in to Sportside.
Who was your inspiration professionally? I could say someone famous who’s anthropological efforts have changed the way we see and understand the living world or who’s legacy is the stuff of legends but the person who’s been an inspiration to me my entire life is my father.
One of eight children, he left school at 15 with no qualifications, horrendously dyslexic and with the attitude from many that he was not made for academic life. After believing the naysayers for few years working a multitude of jobs from tailor to bus driver, he decided he wasn’t quite done and went back to night school to get himself some qualifications so he could attend college.
After a further few years, working between studies, he enrolled at Glasgow University to study law where he was everything from the Honorary Secretary of the Union, Scottish Universities’ Lightweight Boxing Champion and a member of the University’s Air Squadron.
After graduating and with the unwavering support of my mother, he set up what is now an award-winning law firm. 40 years on and still going strong, his commitment, drive and sheer determination towards providing a good life for himself, his employees and his family has opened my eyes to what’s possible. Hard work, a belief in yourself and your abilities alongside a solid core team of support can change your world.
What, to date, are you proudest of?
I never felt I was the brightest at school due to a failing on my part/teachers to install a belief in myself that I could achieve. Thankfully I had a supportive family and a thirst for learning, so I pushed myself onwards.
To be here now, working with such a talented team and having my voice heard is what I’ve always wanted and I believe together we can create something magical. That aside, the most important thing in my life has been creating a family with my darling husband. Together we hope to have made a safe and nurturing environment to raise our two daughters and for them to feel constant love and happiness. The thought of them makes me smile in the night.
What do you love to do in your spare time (if any)? Exercise. I never thought the day would come that I would see exercise as a luxury but children change your perspective in many ways and so at the grand old age of 38 and after two pregnancies I decided to take up running in a bid for freedom. I always looked with envy at those whizzing past me, with the glow of the outdoors on their faces and imagined how they must feel so free mentally and physically.
Having never run since school I thought perhaps sensible to do it slowly so took on the Couch to 5k challenge, it was hell on earth but I loved it because I had achieved it myself, so now I’m officially a runner. Exercise aside, I love socialising with family/friends, drinking too much and laughing until I can’t breathe. There’s nothing more joyous than laughing.
What gets you out of bed in the morning? My children, morning sunshine, the promise of a happy and fulfilling day.
Your three perfect dinner guests (living or dead)? I love learning and talking about new and exciting things, the world is a wonder so would have to be Sir David Attenborough as what his eyes have seen is beyond fascinating. I love a sing song and a good party so for that you can’t beat a bit of Freddy Mercury, his sense of style is fabulous. My last guest would be Billy Connelly, he is just a bit of me. I love his Glasgow humour, his swearing, his stories and his ability to make the mundane and harshness of life gleam for just a moment. Tears stream down my face when I listen to him and that makes me feel alive.
The best piece of advice you have ever been given? “Don’t judge the moment” I can be truly terrible at this practise so when I read it in a blog by an Olympic Rower, who had himself heard it from in a podcast I thought, yes… how simple and great a thought. I put it in my phone, and it comes up as a daily reminder and now sets the mood for the day.
I must say it a thousand times a day in my head so when I feel emotional, have a big decision to make, deadlines to meet or my children are driving me bonkers, I take a pause… could be for 5 mins, could be until the next day but I actually now wait until the usual feeling of REACT passes and I can think it out. It’s not always possible or indeed normal to be a constant positive Polly, sometimes a good blow out works wonders but I then take a breath and try again.
A brief message to your younger self? Know your worth, believe in yourself, your capacity to learn and always fight your corner. You are your own limitations. If along the way you find barriers, you perhaps are seeking help in the wrong places. Everyone has their own pace of learning and with the right support and guidance, anything is possible. Ask a million questions, practise, work hard. Life is for living, exploring and having fun… embrace it all and remember, it’s never too late to switch lane.
What attracted you to Sportside? The vision of what it could become. Growing something from infancy is challenging and exciting and the buzz in our team is infectious. I’m passionate about using sports as a tool for social change. Promoting inclusion and creating opportunities for individuals as a means to establish mutual trust and create healthier communities is very much top of my agenda.