My career: Adam Colling of Breakthrough Breast Cancer

The charity's head of corporate partnerships says it's important to have a thick skin

- The best advice I've had

I can't recall anything that qualifies as the best advice. The most helpful things I think you can learn are about yourself. A coach recently told me that I tend to draw on my experience and ideas to form opinions and make decisions, rather than look for validation from other people - perhaps this accounts for a bit of a blank on the receiving advice front.

- The biggest challenge I've faced

As a fresh-faced mid-twentysomething, I often found myself sitting opposite brand managers or marketing directors with 10 or 20 years' more experience than me.

Sometimes their reactions at our meetings were pretty hard - I'm sure everyone who has worked as a fundraiser for a charity has had a patronising comment thrown their way at some stage. To begin with, I found this pretty demoralising. Thankfully, you learn pretty quickly to deal with it and grow a thick skin.

- My greatest hit

There are so many amazing partnerships I could talk about, but what has made them all possible is maintaining a great fundraising team and achieving a low staff turnover, which gives us stability, knowledge-retention and a bit of space to innovate and push in new directions.

- My worst moment

A long time ago, a £1m new partnership activity that was all but signed and sealed evaporated in front of my eyes. For about an hour, I thought the world had ended, but after a couple of medicinal pints we turned our thoughts to the practicalities of how to deal with it. Six months later we'd built the foundations of something that was bigger and better.

- My top tip

Be crystal clear about what it is the team needs to achieve, and ensure they have the space, time and support to make it happen.

Interview by Annie Kelly

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