CAREERS: How I Got Here - Russell Dickson, chief executive, Vetaid

What was your first job? I stacked shelves at Tesco. My first real job was working for an advertising agency.

What does your current role involve? Vetaid is a Scotland-based international development charity that works mainly in Africa to reduce poverty and increase food security of people dependent on livestock. It does this in part by training people to provide basic veterinary support to those who rely on animals for their survival. There are only four staff members, so roles tend to fall by the wayside, but mine combines everything from selecting Christmas cards to overall strategy. I also do some fundraising, marketing, accounts, programme management, HR and admin.

Roughly outline your career path. After being a media planner and buyer at an ad agency, I worked in computing for large multinationals, and became director of a small software company. When that went bust during the recession of the early 1990s I had to rethink my career. I opted for fundraising, starting with a small international NGO, before moving to Population Concern as external relations director and then to Vetaid.

What has been your greatest career achievement? Working with a great team at Population Concern to produce what were considered to be among the best of publications within the sector.

What is your biggest career regret? No big ones, but I still wonder - why did I leave advertising for computing?

What is your advice to people starting out in the sector? Don't just stay in the charity sector, move around and learn how other sectors work.

I think all bank managers should work for a small company for a year and all community officers with trusts.

Are there any charities you support financially, or with time? In particular, Wood Green Animal Shelter and international and homelessness charities.

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