FD in Five Minutes: Douglas Parkhill

Third Sector speaks to the finance director at Missing People

Douglas Parkhill
Douglas Parkhill

Why did you choose finance as a career? Financial management in industry or commerce interested me, and after my degree I qualified as a chartered accountant. I moved out of the profession pretty much at the first opportunity and enjoyed my years in finance director and company secretarial roles in industry, latterly pharmaceuticals.

What made you work in the charity sector? I always had a keen interest in charities and just before my retirement I joined Missing People. It’s an incredible charity that provides a lifeline when someone goes missing, and the helpline is available 24/7 thanks to support from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery. I’m still with the charity several years after I had planned to retire and I’m inspired by working with brilliant colleagues who make a real difference to people’s lives. 

What is the proudest moment of your career so far? Being named by the governance institute ICSA as company secretary of the year for the not-for-profit sector. It was really a recognition of the professionalism and governance that everyone has brought to Missing People.

What do you do outside work? I’ve been part time for a number of years so have time to enjoy my music and travel, a bit of cycling and spending time with family and our five grandchildren.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career/life so far? Probably a former non-executive colleague, Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Beavis, with whom I worked for 17 years. His straightforward but challenging questions always cut to the chase and transformed everyone’s thinking.

If you were charities minister for the day, what one thing would you do? Lobby the Chancellor of the Exchequer and colleagues to address the financial sustainability of local authorities, because this has a real impact on the work of charities.

Are you optimistic for the future of the charity sector? I am and I worry that it’s too easy to be pessimistic. At Missing People I see an example of the amazing services delivered by inspirational staff and volunteers, and I honestly think our charity sector is one of the finest things we have.

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