FD in Five Minutes: John Whiterow

Third Sector speaks to the director of finance and corporate services at the British Lung Foundation

John Whiterow
John Whiterow

Why did you choose finance as a career? I wanted a career that combined financial analysis with elements of other disciplines, where working with other people was key to being successful. So I chose to study for, and become, a management accountant. I have been lucky that I have worked for a number of excellent organisations during my career, in both the commercial and charity sectors, that have allowed me to do this.

What do you do outside work? I try to do things that take me away from work. I enjoy going to the cinema, theatre and live music of all types, and watching and playing sport. I took up golf about 10 years ago: I haven't improved that much, but I enjoy the challenge and the camaraderie.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career/life so far? I have been fortunate in having worked for a number of really motivating managers who have allowed me to develop and grow. My biggest influence, however, was Sandy Cotter from the Praxis centre at Cranfield, who taught me more about myself and how other people see the world than anybody else.

If you were charities minister for the day, what one thing would you do? Provide funds to develop the people who are motivated to work for charities but who do not get the development training that employees in the commercial sector have access to. The return from such investment would be significant.

Are you optimistic for the future of the charity sector? Absolutely. The motivation of people to either give their time or money to support fantastic causes fills me with optimism. I am impressed with the level of cooperation and team working to achieve a common goal. For example, for those of us in respiratory health, the Taskforce for Lung Health – a group of patients, charities, medical professionals and other experts that convened for the first time last year to write a plan for lung health in England – has shown that we can all work together to drive real change in the NHS.

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