CAREERS: How I Got Here - Susan Ringwood, chief executive, Eating Disorders Association

What was your first job?

I started out as an English teacher in a large comprehensive in inner city Birmingham.

As a young woman straight from Norfolk, it was a tremendous culture shock.

What does your current role involve? As chief executive of the Eating Disorders Association (EDA), I am responsible for realising the vision and achieving the goals of the organisation in a way that reflects and reinforces our values of supporting people affected by eating disorders.

Roughly outline your career path? Teaching was the wrong career for me.

Thankfully, I realised this early on, but by then I had spent five years training and qualifying. Luckily, I knew I wanted to work with people, and also that there was this thing called the "voluntary sector". I worked at the Volunteer Bureau Network in its early days, then Age Concern, CSV and Scope before joining The Prince's Trust in 1990. I have had a variety of roles, often with a training element, but always including project and programme development. I joined EDA in August, and I am enjoying learning about a different field.

What training course has most enhanced your career?

Although I didn't stay as a teacher, I think my degree in education has served me well.

What has been your greatest career achievement?

I wouldn't claim greatness, but I think the early successes are often the sweetest. I am very proud of having brought over the Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme (RSVP) from the US when I was at CSV, and setting that up in the UK.

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

Keep your aspirations high and know that everyone can make a difference by the way they live.

Are there any charities you support financially or with time?

I always give to the RNLI. Being born by the sea must be the link.

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