Personal account: Rebecca Porta

Try to plan ahead, says the British Lung Foundation's head of fundraising.

- The best advice I've had

Starting my career in retail management at Harrods was a great opportunity to see all aspects of a business. I learned a lot about distribution, banking, HR and marketing in my time there. My first boss taught me that part of offering a good, professional service to customers meant solving their queries andproblems. I've found this a really useful path to follow throughout my career - whoever you are dealing with, you should always remain focused and positive, try to see the situation from their point of view and find a solution.

- The biggest challenge I've faced

I worked at a small charity that ran a high-profile annual awareness week, which drew a lot of support from the general public.I had the idea to do the event in-house, which, once my boss agreed, suddenly felt incredibly daunting.I registered myself on a PR course, sought out a mentor and eventually found myself on national TV talking about the campaign. Getting experience in PR and media work has been endlessly useful in my career ever since.

- My greatest hit

I was involved in developing the British Lung Foundation's first ever television commercial, which highlighted the impact of lung disease on people's lives. I helped develop the script, find the celebrity voiceover and went on-site to see the filming. The campaign was supported by pharmaceutical companies Boehringer Ingelheim and Pfizer. Since the ad went on air in the Yorkshire Television region, our helpline staff have taken more than 500 calls.It was a real buzz seeing it all come together.

- My worst moment

When I was at Cancer Backup, I worked on a Paris to London cycle event. I found the amount of work, planning and commitment that went into the project incredible. I had many sleepless nights worrying about the cyclists, their travel route, accommodation, safety, security, licences and street parties. It was a huge relief when it was over.

- My top tip

Try to plan for every eventuality. If you are organising an event, think about everything that could go wrong, and make sure you review and address legal issues such as contracts, insurance and data protection.

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