My degree was in philosophy and theology. It didn't give me a set career option, but I've since found that it has come in useful in business, especially when discussing issues and understanding a range of views.
My first job was temping in the HR department at Sheffield Homes, a council role that allowed me to realise that HR was my passion. A permanent job came up and I was given time to gain a postgraduate diploma in HR management while working. It was great to be able to put theory into action.
A couple of years later an opportunity came up to be HR manager for West Berkshire Council. This role helped to develop my leadership skills. Engaging and inspiring employees, from school leavers to those near retirement, meant that I had to learn many different techniques.
I'd wanted to go travelling and realised it was now or never. I spent a year going around the world; it was the best thing I ever did. On my return I wanted to move into the not-for-profit sector, but an interesting job came up at the accountancy firm Grant Thornton. It was useful to experience the private sector and understand business – and to be able to pay off my travelling debts.
I was warned that it would be hard to move into the charity sector because I would not be able to understand the different culture. I've not found this to be the case; I think there are many transferable skills. I was thrilled to get a job at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. After two years I still love it and have freedom in my work to make real change happen.