CAREERS: How I Got Here - Phil Street, chief executive, Continyou

What was your first job? I worked for Shelter as a volunteer after leaving school. My first paid job was as a social worker in Wolverhampton, but I was not temperamentally suited to it at the time. I felt too much blame was attributed to the client for their predicament. As someone fresh out of university and deeply influenced by Karl Marx, I found this hard to swallow.

What does your current role involve? As chief executive of Continyou, the charity that formed from the merger of the Community Education Development Centre (CEDC) and Education Extra, my role is to provide strategic direction, secure our financial viability and develop the new organisation's culture and identity.

Roughly outline your career path? After my social work stint, I took up a series of roles in adult education and youth work before becoming an education officer in Walsall. I joined the charity as assistant director in the 1980s and a rollercoaster of experiences began. I was appointed deputy director in 1992, director in 1996 and chief executive of ContinYou in February 2003.

What training has most enhanced your career? It may corny, but learning through example. I have come to admire a number of people and have been greatly influenced by them.

What has been your greatest career achievement? Taking the CEDC from the brink to stability, and then to lead the merger with Education Extra.

In seven years, I have overseen a 1,000 per cent growth in turnover and an increase in staff from 14 to nearly 100 people.

What is your advice to people starting out in this sector? Make sure you have got a vision. Do not be complacent; humility goes a long way in management.

Are there any charities you support financially or with your time? This makes me feel amazingly guilty, but no. Family and work dominate my life.

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