CAREERS: How I Got Here - Mike Smith, chief executive, Enabling Partnership

What was your first job? My first (and hardest) job was as the only Englishman working with 19 Irishmen on a railway gang in 1965.

What does your current role involve? The Enabling Partnership is an umbrella organisation for disability charities providing finance, HR, payroll, fundraising, marketing and IT support. This allows the charities to be more effective and cost efficient. Current members are the Enham Trust, a provider of disability services in Hampshire, the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation, and the National Federation of Shopmobility UK. I co-ordinate business plans to give them a synergy and ensure they work for a common cause.

Roughly outline your career path? I spent 25 years in the RAF until 1992. I then joined St Loyes Foundation, a disability training facility, for 2 years as chief executive before becoming chief executive at the Enham Trust. I left that role in November 2001 to take up my current position at the Enabling Partnership.

What training or course has most enhanced your career? The business degree at Cranfield University in Bedford from 1990-1993 taught me the basics of commerce.

What has been your greatest career achievement? The formation of Enabling Partnership because I was amazed at the volume of duplicated information which exists within disability organisations.

What's your advice to people starting out in the sector? Try to operate your organisation in a businesslike manner but do not undertake your job as if you were running a business.

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

I raised £12,000 by running the London Marathon. The bulk of it went to the three organisations that fall under our umbrella, but Mencap and MIND also received some of the funds.

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