CAREERS: HOW I GOT HERE - Marcus Ward, director, Oasis Children's Venture

What was your first job?

I took several unusual jobs to fund myself through university. They included being a drayman and selling chickens door-to-door.

What does your current role involve? I'm responsible for managing Oasis, an environmental activity centre for children and young people in Lambeth, south London. This involves planning for the future and making it happen.

The best part is working with the children: nothing beats playing tag in the environmental garden or a game of football in the adventure playground at the end of a long day.

Roughly outline your career path. Originally I studied law and then I worked in general and financial management in the music and computer industries for 10 years. I first moved into the voluntary sector in 1991 when I became head of finance management information systems at the HIV charity London Lighthouse. After that I became part-time finance director at the Queen's Nursing Institute in 1998 and later joined the legal advice charity Action for Victims of Medical Accidents as deputy chief executive. I started my present role in February.

What training or course has most enhanced your career?

I dislike long, structured training courses because I find much of the content irrelevant. I prefer to do my own research in areas I need to know about.

What has been your greatest career achievement?

Contributing to the robustness, quality and imagination of all the organisations I have worked for.

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

Avoid zealousness: listen to people and be creative. If someone proposes a new idea, instead of listing the why nots, think of the what ifs. Some-times 'we can't' means 'we don't want to'. Also, give yourself time off.

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