Personal account: Kathryn Marshall

Gazebos are evil, says the head of events marketing for mental health charity Mind.

The best advice I've had

You can only do your best. My first manager at Diabetes UK, Richard Beighton, was a really caring, intelligent man who used humour to defuse even the worst situations. The success and failure of your organisation does not rest solely on your shoulders.

The biggest challenge I've faced

I spent some time in New Zealand, working as the national PR and fundraising manager for Victim Support. About two weeks into the role I was given the daunting task of designing and launching an inaugural national appeal: a mail-out to every household in New Zealand and a one-week national television, print and radio campaign. I didn't have any contacts, I was in a foreign country and I didn't have a team. I was completely out of my comfort zone, having never worked in direct marketing before, and I really struggled to grasp the basics about why the New Zealand public would donate to a cause I knew very little about. I beavered away and ended up raising more than £1m in the first year - one of the highest turnovers for a campaign in New Zealand.

My greatest hit

My last job in New Zealand was as a development manager for a university.

I was responsible for co-ordinating all of its major fundraising campaigns, including legacies and scholarships. There was this one cantankerous emeritus professor based in the UK who nobody would deal with. As I was the newest member of the team, and English, I was given the task of reporting on how his investments were going. After a few months of email banter and telephone exchanges I was lucky enough to extract a whopping £900,000. When I was returning to England, the professor wrote and told my boss that it was purely because I put up with him with "charm and humour" that we got the money.

My worst moment

Trying to put up an evil gazebo by myself at some stupid hour in the morning for the Hydro Active Women's Challenge, in the pouring rain, and not having long enough arms to extend the poles. As soon as it was up I was told gazebos were banned from the charity village.

My top tip

You are only as good as the people around you, so treat others with the same courtesy and respect you would expect yourself.

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