Careers: How I Got Here - John Ramsey, volunteer development manager, Citizens Advice

What was your first job? I was a cleaner at Watford General Hospital.

What does your current role involves? My core role is to ensure that volunteers remain at the heart of the services provided by Citizens Advice. This includes developing policy and strategy on volunteering.

Roughly outline your career path I started my career as a solicitor before giving it up to volunteer on a Game Reserve in Uganda. Then I spent four very enjoyable years working in overseas conservation, managing groups of volunteers as well as various projects in Tanzania. My commute to work would typically involve a 30-minute trek through the tropical forest or across the savanna.

I joined Student Volunteering England in 2000 as head of information, before becoming chief executive two years later. I have been volunteer development manager at Citizens Advice since February this year.

What training has most enhanced your career? My law degree has helped me develop a number of skills such as communication and negotiation.

What has been your greatest career achievement? It was moving a development project from Uganda to Tanzania. Despite the aftermath of El Nino at the time, which had destroyed much of the transport infrastructure, and the chaos caused by Bill Clinton visiting Kampala, I did it under budget and on time.

What is your advice to people starting out in this sector? If you don't believe in the cause you are working for, forget it. You can teach new skills but you can't teach passion and enthusiasm.

Are there any charities you support financially, or with time?

I have supported a number of different charities over the years, all in the environmental conservation and animal welfare field, including Survival and the Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania.

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