FD in Five Minutes: Mark Cornish

Third Sector speaks to the finance director at the Campaign to Protect Rural England

Mark Cornish
Mark Cornish

Why did you choose finance as a career? I wanted a professional career that would keep my options open. I had always been interested in money as the lifeblood of any organisation and seeing how organisations worked. I was lucky enough to undertake my initial training at KPMG, where I was exposed to industries from TV and building societies to tank manufacturing and fish fingers.

What made you work in the charity sector? The people who work in the sector are so passionate about the causes they work on – it is really inspiring. But they are also willing to collaborate for the greater good. There is also a huge variety of causes and issues where charities can make a difference. I have been fortunate to work in the education sector helping to promote skills in IT and telecoms, the health sector providing support to people affected by bowel cancer, the youth sector supporting social integration, and now the environmental sector promoting and protecting our beloved countryside.

What do you do outside work? I enjoy European city breaks, with Vienna, Helsinki and Rome being some of my favourites over recent years. And while I love the culture and architecture of beautiful European cities, I also adore the fresh air and long walks in the English countryside – especially if there is a real-ale pub involved. My wife and I can often be found walking our border terrier in our local countryside in Essex – a lot of it is green-belt land, something that I am very passionate about.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career/life so far? Two people: Alan Thompson, my finance director at my first job at The Sunday Correspondent, who encouraged me to go into accountancy; and Adrian Randall, who gave me a summer job at the Cancer Research Campaign when I was a university student and who was passionate about professionalising the charity sector and encouraging young professionals within it.

If you were charities minister for the day, what one thing would you do? I’d use my position to lobby for and put more pressure on the government to allow charities to claim full VAT relief. Many charities are underfunded and struggle financially, but by enabling them to save up to 20 per cent of their costs that are currently paid out in VAT it could make a huge difference to the sector and the fantastic work that they are able to do.

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