What made you work in the charity sector? I had been involved in a local Norwich charity for more than 10 years. Then, while working as an accountant in practice, I ended up managing all of the firm’s charity clients. I got to know the charity sector and decided I had something I could contribute with. I was particularly interested in working in international development and environmental issues, so when a job came up at SolarAid I had to go for it.
What is the proudest moment of your career so far? Right now at SolarAid. After a few difficult years of struggling with cash-flow issues, we have emerged as a sustainable organisation with strong strategic focus, a well-diversified funding base and good solid financial practices. It was amazing teamwork that got us there; we all had to make sacrifices and I’m proud to have been a part of that.
What do you do outside work? I still work for a charity on a volunteer basis in Norwich – it’s a small refugee project. I also get involved in local activism with environmental groups and recently I got an allotment that I really enjoy working on.
Who has been the biggest influence on your career so far? I was very lucky with the previous three managers I had at SolarAid before I moved into the finance director role myself. They all had quite different approaches to the role, but each of them really invested time in my development, involved me in decision-making and picked up on the areas I was showing an interest in to give me more responsibility. I learned so much from them and it really improved my confidence in what I felt I could do.
If you were charities minister for the day, what one thing would you do? I would be encouraging charities to work together and share information more. I think it is necessary, and we do see that more and more now – charities working together and creating collectives.
Are you optimistic for the future of the charity sector? Yes. Again, the way charities seem to be working together is very positive. SolarAid is a good example of this. Our future strategy is very much around working with other organisations that are in different spaces but could include elements of our work in providing access to clean affordable energy. It’s about sustainable solutions, open-sourcing and incorporating technological innovations. SolarAid is all about that.