FD in Five Minutes: Amanda Smith

Third Sector speaks to the finance director at the Zoological Society of London

Amanda Smith
Amanda Smith

Why did you choose finance as a career? I love finding out how things work, what makes an organisation tick, how it makes an impact and to see if it can be improved. Finance is the life-blood of an organisation – it touches on every part of it.

What made you work in the charity sector? I worked in the commercial sector for more than 25 years, restructuring companies, and latterly took on a voluntary role in the sector because I wanted to give something back to society. This opened my eyes to the great work the sector does and some of the innovative ways that it delivers positive impact. I was then fortunate to have some experience supporting charities while working in the commercial sector. I planned to work in the sector later in life, but this experience prompted me to think "why wait until then – I can use my skills and time to make a positive impact now".

What do you do outside work? Have fun with my young son. I enjoy getting out into nature with my family and I am knitting my own zoo – I have made two animals so far, so there are a lot more to go.

Are you optimistic for the future of the charity sector? On a fundamental level I believe there is great support for its work, but the sector faces many challenges in terms of delivering long-term impact in the context of diminishing funding streams and increasing demand from beneficiaries. There appears to be an increasing focus in society and in the education of our young people on citizenship and improving the environment, society and governance, and this can only benefit the sector.

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Charity property: could you be entitled to a huge VAT saving?

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