FD in Five Minutes: Alan Sharpe of the RSPB

The director of finance and information systems at the animal welfare charity says he is often approached with wildlife-related queries

Alan Sharpe
Alan Sharpe

What's the first thing people say when you say you work for the RSPB? People will frequently open with a wildlife-related query. For example, while momentarily parked on a double yellow line in an RSPB-marked car, my heart sank as a traffic warden approached – but only to enquire about how to deal with an owl in a barn. I was stumped, but was only too pleased to reduce the risk of a ticket by putting him in touch with someone who knew.

Who's the most notable person you've met through your work? Al Gore. On one afternoon I heard him demonstrate his deep understanding of environmental matters by presenting an update to his environmental documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Then, in the evening, he demonstrated his slightly shallower understanding of football by interviewing Sir Alex Ferguson about how the latter won the Champions League.

What was your first job in finance? Unit accountant, Mars. That's the food company in Slough, just to avoid any confusion. Fortunately, I had left to work at Mothercare before my children were of an age to develop a taste for the free chocolate.

As a child, what was your first exposure to charity? It was bob-a-job week, to raise funds for our scout group. Anybody need their windows or shoes cleaning (badly)?

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