Be firm about your objectives and what you want to achieve, but be flexible about how you go about achieving them. I was given this advice very early on in my career and it has stuck with me ever since. I believe that it has proved useful to me both professionally and personally.
I knew from a young age that I wanted to work in the not-for-profit sector. But rather than follow a set plan, I have grabbed the opportunities that have presented themselves, including a trainee accountancy role at the professional services firm PwC, a secondment to Australia and a trustee role at the charity No Smoking Day. I believe the skills that I gained along the way and my flexibility helped me to achieve my ambition and work for the British Heart Foundation.
The advice has also helped me in my role at the BHF. For many years, we have tried unsuccessfully to position ourselves as Tesco's charity of the year partner. We were committed to giving it our best shot because of the unrivalled income, reach and relevance to a healthy lifestyle cause. A few months ago, Tesco approached us with a new way of working in a different joint partnership with Diabetes UK. By being open-minded and flexible, we got there in the end and actually achieved a better result.
Despite the fact that we are a large charity with a clear strategy, I feel it is important for us to still show flexibility and be willing to adapt our approach to achieve the end objective.