Careers: Job Ladder - Lyndall Stein, executive director, Concern Worldwide UK

What was your first job? As a library assistant when I was 15 after I was expelled from school. I was a bad girl! But I eventually managed to go back to school.

What were your two key career moves? In the 1970s, when I joined a print cooperative that helped community groups in Bradford print leaflets and other campaign materials. It was my first role in campaigning and communications.

Also, getting involved in the African National Congress, a South African liberation movement that was in exile at the time. For four years, and for almost no money, I helped to raise funds in support of this campaign to end apartheid.

Why do you think you got your present job? Because Concern wanted to raise their profile in the UK and because I oversaw marketing activities at Action Aid at a time when the organisation went through major changes.

Who's been your biggest influence? My dad. He taught me everything about the direct marketing business. I also had the chance to work with exceptional leaders like Nick Partridge from the Terrence Higgins Trust and Salil Shetty.

What was the best moment of your career? The day the first democratic elections took place in South Africa. I was chair of Vote for Freedom, an initiative that aimed to raise funds for the ANC in support of Nelson Mandela's candidacy. My dad said to me: "How often in life do you have total satisfaction?"

... and your worst moment? At the Terrence Higgins Trust. We were working with a messy database and made some mistakes as a result. We twice phoned a supporter whose son died from Aids and had asked not to be contacted because she did not want to be reminded of her loss each time we called.

What's your tip for success? Always take responsibility for errors made by your team and do not enjoy personal success too much.

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