CAREERS: HOW I GOT HERE - Peter Houghton, honorary executive director, Artificial Heart Fund

What was your first job? I was a trainee at an accountancy firm.

What does your current role involve? I raise money for research into mechanical devices designed to assist the heart. We are implanting eight Jarvik 2000 Heart Assist Devices at a cost of £500,000, and have just received funds for a further 50 next year.

Roughly outline your career path I started in the nationality division of the Home Office and the Ministry of Social Security, before becoming director of the Birmingham Settlement. After that I founded the National Association of the Childless. I then became the Birmingham Settlement's chief executive, before becoming director of Association Managers, which provided administration to small charities. I fell ill in the mid-1990s, and later became the first person of 10 to receive the Jarvik Heart as a permanent treatment for heart failure.

What has been your greatest career achievement? I'm proud to have founded the first money advice centre at the Birmingham Settlement in 1971, and to have later obtained the first local authority grant for money advice work. The centre soon offered the first training in debt counselling in the UK.

What is your greatest career regret? The failure of a music studio project to help young talent to make and mix music in the late 1980s. I lacked the experience to make it succeed and learned not to innovate beyond what I know.

What is your advice to people starting out in the sector? Believe in what you are doing, dream of making things better, then put your plans into action.

Are there any charities you support financially or in which you invest your time? I give time to the National Heart Research Fund, which provided my heart pump. I am on the board of the Transplant Support Network, and am also honorary secretary of the extra life group at the Cardiac Patients Association.

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