CAREERS: HOW I GOT HERE - John Ward, director of fundraising, the Crafts Council

- What was your first job?

I was on the West Africa desk in the overseas department of the Bank of England. A typical task was analysing the balance of payments of Burkina Faso. This left me with a fascination for Africa, especially the Sahara.

- What does your current role involve?

Creating a more strategic fundraising plan for the Crafts Council and preparing a capital funding campaign for our future relocation.

- Roughly outline your career path?

I helped set up a trade union for Bank of England staff. After running that for several years I became general secretary at the First Division Association, the union for senior civil servants.

I'd always wanted to work in opera so in 1988 I leapt at the chance to become the first head of development at Opera North and moving to Leeds.

From there, I moved to similar jobs at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and, from 1997 to 2002, at the English National Opera. I joined the Crafts Council last month.

- What training or course has most enhanced your career?

What I learned on the job from my first manager at the Bank of England.

- What has been your greatest career achievement?

Helping a succession of astonishingly talented young fundraisers at the English National Opera to achieve their potential.

- What is your advice to people starting out in the sector?

Be passionate about your cause when fundraising, because you must be able to communicate enthusiasm to supporters.

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

I give money to the organisation I am working for at the time, which gives me credibility when asking others. I mostly give my time to "third world" charities, particularly ones working in Africa such as the Bishop Simeon Trust.

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