FD in Five Minutes: Colin Kerr

Third Sector speaks to the director of finance at the Children's Trust

Colin Kerr
Colin Kerr

Why did you choose finance as a career? I wanted to join the Navy, but they realised that I would be hopeless at taking orders. I’d studied accounting at school and found I was good at it, so I drifted into it as a career: it seemed to make my mother happy.

What is the proudest moment of your career so far? During my six years at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, I doubled as the lead for the 1914-18 centenary work. Over a month, we covered the centenaries of Jutland and the Somme: very hard work, but deeply moving.

What do you do outside work? Family, obviously, but I still make a point of going to about 10 rock concerts each year. Better to burn out than to fade away…

Who has been the biggest influence on your career/life so far? Professionally: Michael Roberts, my former boss at Deloittes in London, in the 1980s. Michael is an example of how to be a natural leader in a professional environment: highly charismatic and clients were in awe. Personally, my maternal grandfather, Lachlan Campbell, for setting an admittedly Edwardian example of how a young boy should behave: work ethic, manners, respect and a moral compass that never wavered. Needless to say, it was an aspiration that I met only fleetingly.

If you were charities minister for the day, what one thing would you do? Shout from the rooftops that it cannot be right that the very real pressures currently being sustained by councils mean some front-line charities continue to do heroic work with most of their staff on the minimum wage. Morally untenable.

Are you optimistic for the future of the charity sector? Mostly, because there will always be people who will want to follow this path. However, with increasing demand on financial skills, on systems development and on governance, there has to be more focus on mergers and consolidations. Happily, there will always be the sage advice of the charities committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, of which I am proud to be a member.

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