Careers: Job Ladder - Frances Webb-Thurgood, head of fundraising, Gingerbread

What was your first job? I was secretary to Eric Morley, the chief executive of Mecca, the leisure company that runs the Miss World competition.

It was the late 1960s and I did not like the way the organisation operated. I felt it was out of touch with what was happening.

What were your two key career moves? Moving from a local community organisation to become fundraising and membership coordinator at Char, a national homelessness charity. And joining Action for Blind People as corporate and trust fundraising manager.

Why do you think you got your present job? I had a lot of experience as a fundraiser at Carers UK, a membership organisation just like Gingerbread.

Who has been your biggest influence? Baroness Pitkeathley, a former chief executive of Carers UK and ex-chair of the New Opportunities Fund. She taught me a lot about management. She motivates staff without being patronising.

What was the best moment of your career? Launching a capital appeal to build a day centre for Action for Blind People. Our newsletter was dropped through the doors of local residents and soon after I received a call from one of them, who was a member of a grant-making trust. The trust funded our project entirely.

... and your worst moment? I was showing one of the charity's IT training centres to a grant officer from a large trust from which we were seeking funding. When I asked a trainee what he thought of the centre, he said: "It is as useful as a chocolate fireguard."

What's your tip for success? Stick to your long-term goals. Members of staff and trustees will come to you with ideas - keep them on file and assess them against your plan.

How do you relax? Gingerbread is very flexible on working hours because most staff are lone parents. You can easily take a day off by working longer hours.

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