Beverley Jullien has spent most of her career working for pharmaceutical companies, but says she always planned to move into the not-for-profit sector later in her career. Now, in her fifties, she has had the chance to do that as the new chief executive of the international Christian charity Mothers' Union.
Jullien comes to the voluntary sector after spending time working in both the corporate and education sectors. She led the merger of Astra and Zeneca in the UK in 2000, which she says helped her learn a lot about leading and managing, and after that was deputy chief executive at London South Bank University.
Her voluntary sector experience includes working with the British Olympic Association to help professionalise sport governing bodies for the 2012 Olympic Games. She is also active at local level and ran the London Marathon this year to raise money for the disability charity Leonard Cheshire.
Jullien says she was thrilled when she was approached about the job after a career break because she was looking for a new challenge. As an active member of her local Anglican church, she says, she shares the Mothers' Union's values.
She says she'd like to enlarge the organisation, which is active in 83 countries and has about four million members worldwide. "Our projects currently help about 400,000 people a year – it would be great to double that number by analysing which projects work best and by skilling up our volunteers," she says.
During her corporate sector career, she has visited more than 40 countries, which means she is no stranger to working for an internationally focused organisation.
The charity's UK base is also important, she says, and she's keen to bring in the next generation of UK members: "I'd like our mission to excite people and encourage them to get involved. I'm a working mum and I'm planning to engage with working mums in London, in a fun way that leads to effective action."
Part of this engagement with potential members, she says, will be communicating that the charity's overseas work is not about handouts but about working at the grass roots to facilitate community action.
Jullien, who has two children, describes the Mothers' Union as "the best-kept secret in the Anglican communion. This is very exciting for me, because I've always wanted to lead and shape an organisation, and there is a fantastic team here to work with."