FD in Five Minutes: Emma Jackson

Third Sector speaks to the finance and insights director at Newlife, the charity for disabled children

Emma Jackson
Emma Jackson

Why did you choose your current career?

I worked for a number of large corporations in the UK and throughout Europe before taking time off to have my first son. I knew I wanted to do something that would allow me to balance the time I spent with my children with my work, but I knew that whatever I did would need to be challenging and worthwhile to keep me interested. I applied for the finance role at Newlife, but because of an issue with childcare I ended up having to take my one-year-old with me to my second-round interview with the charity’s chief executive. While my one-year-old toddled round the office, we chatted and I realised that this was the sort of place I needed to work – one that accepted family mattered and would accommodate and encourage that.

What’s your biggest challenge at work?

It varies. Sometimes it’s hard being the voice of financial reason; people get very passionate about issues that matter to them and are desperate to make a real difference. We have a duty to ensure that funds are used effectively and efficiently while ensuring our values as a charity are not compromised. 

What do you do outside work?

I love to keep active: it’s good for both your physical and mental health. I love to walk or hike and have recently completed a 100km ultramarathon. I share an allotment with a good friend and generally just enjoy being outdoors. In addition I am a bit of a secret musical theatre lover and try to go the theatre as much as I can. I bore others with my non-stop playing of show tunes, from old classics to the more recent shows. Currently on my playlist are Hamilton, Six and 42nd Street.

Which three people would be at your fantasy dinner party?

I would definitely invite Lin-Manuel Miranda, the American composer, lyricist and all-round genius, because... why not, the man is amazing. Second, I would add my favourite author – which at the moment is Ben Aaronovitchjust to pick his brain about his latest books. Finally, Gary Cantrell, who designed the notorious Barkley Marathons: this consists of five 20-mile unmarked loops over the toughest of terrain run alternatively clockwise and counterclockwise. Up to now, only 15 people have ever completed the challenge.

What three things would you take with you if you were exiled to a desert island?

I would have to take a good book: I love to read but I generally annoy people by reading the end first. My Apple watch to count my steps. I hope the island isn’t too small because I am currently taking part in a fundraising walking challenge for Newlife to walk 300,000 steps in January, representing each £1 needed to fund specialist equipment for children. And finally chocolate. I definitely function best with a plentiful supply of chocolate.

If you were Prime Minister for the day, what would you do?

I would definitely phone my colleague Clare Dangerfield, our campaigning and public affairs manager. We have often joked that she would make an amazing Prime Minister, and if we gave her just one day I am sure she would make a huge difference to the lives of disabled children in the UK. Oh, and obviously I’d have tea with the Queen.

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