11 December 2023

Wrapping up 2023

By David Smart, and the team

With the festive season upon us and the end of another year with it, we’re taking a moment to reflect on what 2023 has brought us, and where we are as we head into 2024.

We came into this year having made a number of strategic decisions in 2022 to futureproof us. We expected a challenging year based on the fiscal environment. There were times when I personally felt nervous and I must thank my fellow Directors Anne and Sue for their sage counsel and guidance.

It has been another year of continued global turbulence, change and tragedy and I am conscious that this does not just affect organisations, but impacts on individuals and their wellbeing. We have continued to support the team and aimed to provide a positive and nurturing environment.

The strategic decisions we made a year ago, it turns out, were by and large correct. We’ve opened new avenues of work and built new relationships. We’re still here, with cash in the bank, a new outfit on, and a few new faces at the table.

Looking back

It has been a monumental year for the organisation and I’m proud of what we’ve done to develop our work. Some of the top-level highlights are:

Expanding the team. In January, Nina joined us to lead on communications and community engagement. We then welcomed James as a full-time consultant in July, after he worked with us as an intern in previous years.

Both of these were considered decisions that we recognised would add value to our work and strengthen our offer. The quality of work, energy and enthusiasm they have produced vindicated those decisions.

Becoming Glic. With Nina on board, we progressed towards what would put 2023 on the timeline: relaunching as Glic in April. I started this organisation over four years ago as DWS Associates Limited with little focus beyond an aim to help rural Scottish businesses to develop and thrive. We’ve grown and changed since then and the business needed to reflect that.

We spent months working with Stuart from Haiwyre on our branding and website, and launched in April to positive reception. Rebranding enabled us to define our core offer and hone our vision (and we continue to welcome all compliments on the watercolour images that have become characteristically ‘us’).

Maintaining quality. We recognise that we must produce work of the highest quality – always adding value for clients and maintaining our skills. We took stock in 2023 and agreed a new workflow process that adds clarity on milestone dates and ensures our Quality Control and Quality Assurance processes work effectively.

This has been an important development and allows us to grow confidence in our capability and capacity, which is further instilled through continued training within the team. A major investment we made here was in securing EDAS membership, and we look forward to new opportunities for learning and collaboration through their network next year. Very excitingly and in breaking news, Alice has now been appointed to their Board as one of two new directors.

Hazel as ever has kept us on the straight and narrow, and we are proud to have maintained our ISO 9001 and 14001 certifications and our Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation.

Some personal highlights


With new capacity in the team we were able to attend more events this year, keeping our finger on the pulse in the spaces we’re working in. We went to events including All-Energy in May, the DTAS Conference in August, the Scottish Rural and Islands Parliament in November.

For me, DTAS was a particular highlight. It was an opportunity for Nina and me to meet so many interesting people working for communities across Scotland (some I didn’t even realise were on my doorstep) in many innovative ways, and an excellent reminder of why we do the work we do.


It’s wonderful – and a relief – to hear the team has highlights to share, and that itself is a highlight for me.

Personally I was delighted when Anne and I returned from a six-week Scouts and personal trip (having left the team to stay afloat and manage operations in our absence) to see how they had flourished. This experience has given me further impetus to work to establish Glic as an employee-owned organisation in the next two years.


While it may seem obvious that a highlight for me would be just in joining the team, it is an indication of what (and who) Glic is as an organisation. Before I started, one of the first words thrown at me was ‘professionable’ – merging professional with personable, with both colleagues and clients. A major merit and value of Glic is doing quality work with character.

The people I work with are a joy, and even the mundane is made pleasant when everyone brings their personality to the office each day. If you’re one of Glic’s clients, I’m sure you know what I mean.

This year I’ve learnt – or had my beliefs confirmed – that good work gets you good work. It was a huge aspiration for us to get to a point where people were calling us up for our services because they’ve heard about what we do, or they’ve worked with us before and would choose to again.

That is beginning to happen and our reputation is starting to precede us, both in terms of the quality of our output and the team doing the work.

Looking towards 2024

What are we working towards next year? More successes from the strategic decisions made this year, more good work with good people, and more good health for one another.

See you in the new year.

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