Focus: Finance and Governance - Trustee talk - Sangita Shah Care International

I've always been involved in the business side of things rather than the charitable side. I'm an economist by background and a qualified accountant, so I know how to look strategically at the financial infrastructure and direction of the organisation.

Care attracted me because of its commitment. It's involved with long-term development work and 95 per cent of its staff are from local communities, so they are really well acquainted with the issues.

I first got involved when I met a former Care trustee who asked me what I was passionate about. I thought: Africa and women. Africa, because I was born there and I find it a major travesty that it's the only continent where GDP has fallen in the past decade. Women, because women's issues are something with which I can identify. Africa is such a raw environment, vibrant nature co-existing with people who have been shaped by a history of being occupied and wars. But of course Care International reaches wider than this - it has 14,000 staff in 70 countries.

I was on Care International's marketing committee for two years before I became a trustee, during which time I fostered relationships to refine and develop propositions to appeal to corporate donors.

My role as a trustee is to provide direction and vision, and to help facilitate what Care International is doing. As well as my commercial skills, there's also the contact base I have from my journalistic background: I'm the president of the Chartered Institute of Journalists. Last year, we invited former MP and broadcaster Martin Bell to speak at our annual review, and we're looking for someone of the same calibre this year.

I've spent my whole life in industry and have a huge army of networks and contacts. It's all about cross-fertilisation.

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