Careers: How I got here - Michael Shaw, chief executive, John Grooms

What was your first job? I was assistant curate at Dewsbury Parish Church in West Yorkshire. This church served as a centre for people escaping the horrific flooding in Bangladesh in 1970.

What does your current role involve? Challenges galore! In short, my role involves retaining a sense of humour against a maelstrom of bureaucracy, administration, short-term funding, and lack of serious coordinated planning between social services, health and housing.

Roughly outline your career path. My interest in working with disabled people began when I was at the diocese of St Albans. I worked there for 15 years, mainly as a diocesan youth officer. I became involved in a number of youth-training schemes and outreach projects, some of which were aimed at providing wheelchair-access facilities. Equipped with a strong sense of putting people first, I joined John Grooms in 1991 as chief executive.

What training has most enhanced your career path? Theological training provided me with a very broad base and good grounding for my career. It helped me to understand social and ethical imperatives in a changing and complex society.

What has been your greatest career achievement? The transformation of a very old established institutional estate for disabled people in north London, into two vibrant, modern, state-of-the-art residential care homes.

What is your advice to people starting out in this sector? Ensure that you have lots of energy and a sense of humour! Above all, though, resilience is essential, as this will help you manage change effectively.

Are there any charities you support financially, or with time? Yes, in addition to John Grooms I support the Field Lane Foundation, the RNLI, Christian Aid and a small disability charity called The HASE Foundation.

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