Careers: How I got here - Alan Dodd, director, Children Today Charitable Trust

What was your first job? Making oil coolers for Aston Martin cars. I left school aged 15 and, at the time, it seemed exciting. One of my earliest jobs was as a coal miner.

What does your current role involve? Leading the Children Today Charitable Trust, formulating strategies that deliver financial stability and raise public awareness about our grant-giving programme and the needs of disabled children and young people.

Roughly outline your career path As well as being a coal miner I served in the armed forces and, for a number of years, I was a croupier. I then worked in sales, before setting up my own business.My first job in the sector was as regional appeals officer at NCH. I then went to Henshaw's Society for the Blind where, as the first director of appeals, I set up a new fundraising department. I later went to Disabled Living and became deputy director. I was appointed director at Children Today in March 2003.

What training has most enhanced your career? Being a founder member and former chairman of the Institute of Fundraising in the north-west.

What has been your greatest career achievement? The day I took 1,800 children with special needs to the cinema to give them a Christmas treat.

What advice would you give to people starting out in this sector? Be persistent - you may not find the right job or the right organisation immediately. Be inquisitive, ask questions and if you don't know something, ask someone who does. Be tolerant of others while setting your own standards.

Are there any charities you support financially, or with time? I make regular donations to Children Today and also have affinity cards with Unicef, the Salvation Army and the Association for International Cancer Research.

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