CAREERS: HOW I GOT HERE - Teresa Perchard, director of policy, Citizens Advice

What was your first job? I was a temporary secretary at the then United Kingdom Immigrants Advisory Service.

What does your current role involve? In addition to working as part of the Citizens Advice executive board team, I lead our newly formed policy division. Its aims are to campaign for a better deal for Citizens Advice Bureaux clients, develop our strategies and partnerships in key areas, and manage our relationships with key stakeholders better.

Roughly outline your career path

I left college with an arts degree in 1982 amid peak unemployment. I temped in secretarial and administrative roles for voluntary organisations, including UKIAS. I then spent six years as a policy and development officer with the National Consumer Council. After that, I spent a year with what was then the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux as a social policy officer. I worked for the following eight and a half years in the Civil Service first for water regulator Ofwat and then for the Office of the Rail Regulator. I joined Citizens Advice as head of social policy four years ago. In September, I was promoted to director of policy.

What training has most enhanced your career?

30 hours of touch-typing training meant I could find work, and had something to fall back on - I couldn't get through my email mountain without it.

What has been your greatest career achievement? The thing I feel proudest about is helping to build up and develop our policy work here at Citizens Advice.

What is your advice to people starting out in this sector? Don't convince yourself that you are someone who only knows or feels comfortable about working on one issue or sector.

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

I support charities that benefit people who have experienced Hodgkins disease.

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