Careers: How I Got Here - Alexander Heroys, director, AMREF UK

What was your first job?

I was making wooden fruit boxes in a factory in Kent.

What does your current role involve? I lead the UK support office of the African Medical and Research Foundation, an international health NGO in Africa. I am responsible for a small team whose work is to raise funds from the public, government, business and foundations to support the health programmes. We strongly believe that Africa's socio-economic development lies in the hands of the professionals who live there.

Roughly outline your career path I spent 30 years in the British Army as an officer, several of which were in Africa. I fell in love with this continent and decided to help resolve the intriguingly difficult questions surrounding its development. I worked for six years with Care International UK as an Africa desk officer and later become overseas director. I have been director of AMREF UK for the past 10 years.

What training has most enhanced your career? Being taught at school to write well has turned out to be extremely useful to my career. The written word is the fundamental communications tool for all fundraising. Also, my time in the army taught me how to encourage people to make the most of their abilities, which is what team leadership is all about.

What has been your greatest career achievement? To have increased annual donations to AMREF UK from £250,000 to £1.5m in my time here.

What is your advice to people starting out in this sector?

Accept something very basic initially, learn about the many opportunities that exist and then work your way into the job that you most enjoy.

Are there any charities you support financially, or with time?

I support my local church - St Paul's, Salisbury, the Grenadier Guards Welfare Association and CRUK.

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