Careers: How I Got Here - Natasha Gowman, head of public affairs, The Health Foundation

What was your first job? I was a nurse at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. I developed an interest in health policies after moving to the rheumatology department, where I worked in patient education. What does your current role involve? As the foundation's role is to support health professionals in improving the quality of health services in the UK, I have to ensure all the information we produce is tailored to the needs of policy makers.

Roughly outline your career path After my work at the hospital, I became a school nurse at the City and Hackney Health Authority. I then did an undergraduate degree in social policy at Goldsmiths University. Returning to professional life, I joined the Local Government Management Board where I was involved in improving the quality of community consultation and electoral turnout. Following that, I spent four years at the King's Fund as a research officer and programme manager, before starting a one-year secondment as a policy adviser at the Department of Health. I joined the foundation in July 2003.

What training has most enhanced your career? My degree was a wonderful foundation. It helped me understand the way the NHS works and its history. It is useful to my work. What has been your greatest career achievement?

Completing my degree with first-class honours. I entered university with no academic background, with no indication of whether I would be able to manage the work, but I did it! It really developed my confidence.

What is your advice to people starting out in this sector? You have to love what you do. If it does not make you happy, don't be afraid to make a change.

Are there any charities you support financially, or with time? Yes. I donate to a number of homelessness charities and the Myasthenia Gravis Association.

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