FD in Five Minutes: Mike Saxton

Third Sector speaks to the director of resources at Farm Africa

Mike Saxton
Mike Saxton

Why did you choose finance as a career? I was interested in the mechanics of how organisations work and make decisions, and finance seemed very central to that.

What made you work in the charity sector? I’m motivated by international development, with a particular focus on sub-Saharan Africa. In my current role, I’m really motivated by seeing colleagues do very practical work with farmers that helps them to boost their productivity and earn more for their families.

What do you do outside work? I’m a big walking fan. A recent highlight was climbing Mount Elgon on the border of Kenya and Uganda, which is more than 4,000m high, with a group of senior people from the food industry in support of Farm Africa. The Mount Elgon trek was the best walk of my life. It is a unique landscape. Walking at altitude across an enormous dormant volcano was an awe-inspiring experience.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career/life so far? It’s not a specific person, but an idea – seeing people with introvert personalities lead was a huge indication to me that leadership does not have to look like a particular personality type.

Are you optimistic for the future of the charity sector? Yes. Charities need to embrace a hugely changing operating environment, as all organisations need to. There are the big external challenges of ever-increasing online focus, data and artificial intelligence, and an uncertain national and global political context. I see a big trend towards more and more people being purpose-driven in their work, and this is something the sector is really strong at.

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Charity property: could you be entitled to a huge VAT saving?

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When a property is being constructed, VAT is charged at the standard rate. But if you're a charity, health body, educational institution, housing association or finance house, the work may well fall into a category that justifies zero-rating - and you could make a massive saving

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