Stephanie Whyte - Assistant Director of Children’s Services for Barnardos South - Cork
When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up? Probably a rock star in a band.
Tell us about your career progression to your role today: I studied Social Research in University of Limerick and Community Development in University of Galway. I worked in mediation and cross border work in the mid-’90s leading up to the Good Friday Agreement which was very interesting. Then I worked with the travelling community for several years in Dublin, and then disadvantaged minority ethnic communities in Dublin throughout the 2000s. These 2 roles really opened my eyes to inequality and its devastating impact on lifelong achievement. This made me really want to work with people to change their life circumstances from an earlier age – hence my move to Barnardos in the south, based in Cork to focus more on children.
What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do? The variety of the role and the people I meet along the way. No day is the same and most of the time it doesn’t feel like I’m going to work.
What motivates you? The opportunity to contribute to change – both for individual children in their family lives in our direct work, and the wider societal change that Barnardos presses for based on what we see every day in our work.
What advice would you give your 15 year old self? Find something you enjoy doing because you will be working in it for a long time.
If you weren’t in the job you have, what would you be doing?Probably swimming in the sea.
What is your greatest life or career achievement to-date?Managing to juggle work, home and hobbies.
Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life? Undoubtedly my mother Veronica, who is an eternally optimistic and positive person despite many upheavals in her life.
What is the life dream now? To watch/support my two sons find their own path.
How do you switch off? Exercise. I swim with friends in the sea, and I do a lot of cycling too. I am very involved in my local triathlon club South Coast Tri Club.
What is your favourite Cork memory? The panto in the Opera House as a child. I even remember going up onto the stage from the audience at some point as a little girl.
What is your favourite place in Cork? The coastline. I have swum in so many beautiful places along the stunning Cork coast. Youghal in the east, Myrtleville, Church Bay, Sandycove Island, Inchydoney, Gougane Barra, Garnish. The list is endless.
Do you have a favourite quote or motto? “I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.” - Rebecca West 1912
When are you at your happiest? Probably swimming in the sea on a warm sunny day.
What is your hidden talent? I’m not too bad at a pool table having played a lot as a child in the golf club next to where I grew up.
What might we be surprised to know about you? I played a lot of golf as a child because I grew up next to a golf course and my dad was a scratch golfer in his day.
Anything else you’d like to share with us? Barnardos is a great place to work. Across all roles – those directly working with children and back office staff – all want to use their skills to contribute to improving the lives of vulnerable children because childhood lasts a lifetime. It’s a privilege to be part of that team.
Name and position: Stephanie Whyte, Assistant Director of Children’s Services, Barnardos South - Cork
Lives: Youghal, originally from Fermoy
Family: Husband Ronan, sons Ruairi 16 and Sam 12
Pets: Dog Rio and cats Hunter and Wilder
Favourite thing about Cork: The coastline
Least favourite thing about Cork: The traffic
One thing you’d change about Cork: Make it easier to get around.