Meet the LOCSU team – Lisa Stonham
24 September 2019
From the London Fire Brigade to LOCSU via a “random” orchestral tour of China, LOCSU’s Information Officer Lisa Stonham is multi-talented and driven to make a difference. We caught up with Lisa to find out more about her unique career journey and her role at LOCSU…
Lisa’s career path has been anything but conventional. A classically trained musician, she studied Oboe and Cor Anglais at Bath Spa University, following her degree with a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Administration and Management. Her first job role, however, was something rather different:
“My father was a firefighter and my first role out of university in the late 1990s was working to support the fire safety department at the London Fire Brigade. That’s where I developed my affinity for IT. I was using Excel to manage workloads and KPIs and devising my own systems – it’s something that has proved essential in every role I’ve undertaken since.”
Following her stint at the Fire Brigade, Lisa’s career took a more natural turn with arts organisations including the Edinburgh International Festival, Arts Culture Harrow and then Orchestras Live, a national music charity focused on taking music out to be performed in communities to widen its accessibility. The role at LOCSU was something different again:
“I was looking for the next step,” says Lisa. “I wanted to progress and was looking for an opportunity to make a role my own.” She’s also committed to working in the not-for-profit sector: “I need to feel that I’m working for an organisation that makes a difference to society and uses my skills to help achieve that.” When the role at LOCSU came up, Lisa could see that there was potential to make it her next step.
“It was a new role and I could see that it had scope to grow – information management is a rapidly moving area and becoming more important, especially given the governance and compliance requirements from regulations such as the GDPR.”
Lisa can see the similarities between her former role at Orchestras Live and what LOCSU is aiming to achieve: “Orchestras Live was about getting orchestral music out of its silo in concert halls, where it isn’t easy for everyone to access, and into the community nearer to the people who can benefit from it. LOCSU is aiming to achieve the same for primary care optical services, making more aspects of eye health provision available to people, more easily.”
Since joining LOCSU Lisa has taken the lead on several information management projects, notably developing the organisation’s guidance on GDPR for LOCs and PECs and its own processes. Day-to-day she focuses on devising and managing systems to collect, store and output the vast quantities of data coming into the organisation. It requires a very organised and outcome-focused approach, as she explains: “You really need to start at the end, by thinking about what data and reports you want to get out. So many organisations collect vast quantities of data without having a clear picture of why they’re collecting it and what they’re going to find out from it.”
When she’s not busy with information systems at LOCSU, Lisa plays oboe with and manages Brent Symphony Orchestra, one of London’s oldest and best-known amateur orchestras, which celebrates its 109thseason this year. She also plays with other orchestras in and around London, and her resulting profile has led to some exciting, if unexpected, opportunities. One of these arose shortly after she joined LOCSU. “I got a random email on the 19thDecember asking whether I would be available to take part in an all-expenses paid nine-day orchestral tour of China, starting on 27thDecember. I decided it was worth a shot and after meeting the organisers two days later in a coffee shop with my passport, I was flying into Beijing and going straight into rehearsal an hour after getting off the plane! This was followed by concerts in venues such as Tiananmen Square – it all felt surreal at the time and even looking back now I can’t hardly believe I was actually there!”
Interests and inspirations
Lisa’s favourite piece of music comes from her first orchestral tour, to Salzburg at the age of 14, where she performed Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2. She likes all musical genres, with the exception of Blues and Country and Western, which she describes as “too miserable!” There is a Western connection, however, to her favourite film, which is Mel Brooks’ legendary Blazing Saddles. Lisa is also a fan of Marx Brothers films, having watched them with her family as a treat at Christmas.
When it comes to her inspirational figures it’s perhaps not surprising that Lisa has chosen the world’s first real polymath, Leonardo Da Vinci, whose genius made connections across so many disciplines from art to anatomy, music to mathematics and more. She also credits the person, unknown, who set up her local Saturday morning music school, and Adrian Brown, the main Youth Orchestra conductor, for building her love of music.
Outside music, Lisa is a keen baker who loves the science behind cookery – she’s particularly impressed with Heston Blumenthal. She’s also an avid Bake-Off fan, though she’d be on collision course with judge Paul Hollywood as she doesn’t believe the series should include Bread week: “It’s not proper baking!”