FD in five minutes: John Lewis

The finance director of Vista, the charity that supports people with sight loss, says his role is about more than just numbers

John Lewis says his role is to be supportive but honest
John Lewis says his role is to be supportive but honest

What do you value about working for a charity? It might sound clichéd, but I like working with colleagues whose primary purpose is making a real difference to people's lives.

Are spreadsheets your best friend? No, they can be dangerous. Things can go wrong if people don't logic-check what they are producing. Unusually for an FD, I'm not wildly interested in numbers - my degree was in medieval history. I have an ability with numbers, but it is not the only aspect of my role.

How do you regard your role? It is to support the chief executive and trustees but also to challenge and, when necessary, say what can't be done. I'm here to be supportive but honest.

Are you bored with comments about your name? I've actually dined out on it. Because of my name, emails I send are frequently dumped into spam and people have failed to turn up to meetings as a result. I once had great difficulty persuading an organisation that I wasn't calling about their sofa delivery.

What do you do in your spare time? I'm a cellist. I play in a string quartet and practice almost daily.

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