Why did you choose finance as a career? Finance always seemed a natural career choice for me: mathematics was my favourite subject at school and my family ran the local village shop, so I grew up understanding the workings of a business first hand and it wasn’t long before I was helping my dad with the accounts. I read maths at university and joined an accountancy firm after graduating. I’ve always felt one of the best and clearest ways to understand a business is through its numbers.
What made you work in the charity sector? I was a very active member of our rag group at university and it sounds like a cliché but I had always wanted what I did as a career to really mean something in terms of affecting people’s lives and making the world a better place. As soon as I started working for the British Red Cross, I knew I could never go back to a corporate organisation and I have subsequently had the opportunity to be part of charities supporting people after disasters and helping young people. How can that possibly compare to manufacturing widgets?
What do you do outside work? I’m a strong believer in giving back to society. I have two children, so I’m a cub leader, a junior football coach, a junior running coach and vice chair of our local running club. These clubs and activities don’t happen without a strong base of volunteers. Running is my big passion and my stress-buster. Next year I’ll be running my third London Marathon, which will be my ninth marathon in total.
If you were charities minister for the day, what one thing would you do? There is still a lot of negativity and scepticism in the country about the benefit of overseas aid. I would launch an awareness campaign to highlight the benefits that overseas aid provides, not only to the beneficiaries and their communities but also to the UK by increasing the economic independence of the countries we help, thereby making them future trading partners.
Are you optimistic for the future of the charity sector? I am optimistic about the future of the sector for two reasons. First, the increasing professionalism of the sector means we have the skills and resources to adapt to the changing world. Second, I see it in the next generation. My children are already passionate about making the world a better place, whether it’s through donating their pocket money to educate another child or saving to go and help baby turtles after watching Blue Planet 2. They don’t understand why injustices or inequalities exist and are already striving to right them.