FD in Five Minutes: Leanne Welford

Third Sector speaks to the chief finance officer at St John of God Hospitaller Services

Leanne Welford

Why did you choose your current career?

I came into the charity sector after several years working in the private sector. After working in finance positions where the focus was predominantly on maximising shareholder value, a sudden family illness shifted my priorities and led me to want to be involved in an organisation with social purpose and to use the skills I have to benefit others. Making the move into the charity and care sector has given me that opportunity.

What is the proudest moment of your career so far?

Hard work in the last year has delivered a substantial financial turnaround for the charity and I am so proud to be a part of the team that has delivered this, allowing us to continue to explore new opportunities to help those in most need. The past year has had its challenges, but seeing the work that SJOG delivers and how we positively affect the lives of the people we support makes me proud to be part of this organisation and excited for the future.

What’s your biggest challenge at work?

Balancing the books. Our values as a charity mean we have very high standards in the levels of care we provide and where there is need we want to help. This creates a cost that doesn’t always line up with social care budgets. We are constantly looking for opportunities to raise funds to provide more to people in need.

What do you do outside work?

With five children, time outside of work is devoted to family life. A perfect weekend is a long walk in the countryside with my husband, the dog and kids, followed by a Sunday lunch in the pub. We also enjoy supporting our local rugby team, Mowden Park. I have recently taken up running, which I find clears my mind, and I’m hoping to complete my first 10k this summer.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career/life so far?

My sister sadly passed away in 2019 after a battle with cancer. Although younger than me, she always gave me support, direction and a strong word when I needed it. Her stoicism and bravery through illness astounded me and will continue to inspire me through the rest of my life. 

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

The ability to slow down time. Life moves so quickly; there are never enough hours in the day to get everything I want to do done and there are always compromises, which can be frustrating. Children grow up so quickly, and weekends and holidays fly by. I would sometimes like to just have time to appreciate things a little more.

Which three people would be at your fantasy dinner party?

Bob Mortimer – he has funny bones and really makes me laugh; Stephen Fry, because I think he would be fascinating conversationalist, clever and witty; and Michelle Obama, a strong role model and advocate for women and girls – everything I have seen and read about her impresses me.

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

Naturally I have to say I would commit to invest much more in social care, not only to provide better care, but also to allow those who take care of the most vulnerable people in society to be paid the wages they deserve. It pains me that social care budgets mean pay levels are so low for those who care for our family and friends with learning or physical disabilities. Our SJOG colleagues work so hard and provide amazing support and care, so they deserve more. We are working hard to try to improve pay and benefits in the charity, despite the restrictions of local authority budgets.

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