Why did you choose finance as a career? I have always enjoyed numbers, so it was a fairly obvious career path to become a chartered accountant. I moved from working in a small accountancy firm in Kilburn, north-west London, into the furniture retail industry at World of Leather within a year of qualifying.
What made you work in the charity sector? My career has spanned a number of different areas, including retail, leisure and property. Having worked in a variety of commercial organisations, I was attracted to the United Synagogue because it was a charity and because I felt it was time to start giving back to the community. It is a very large charity, which means it is still very interesting, with my remit going far beyond finance and covering all aspects of the charity’s work. I am able to bring the experience I have working in large commercial organisations to help the charity directly.
What is the proudest moment of your career so far? Becoming a finance director of a public limited company – World of Leather – at the age of 27.
What do you do outside work? Mainly spending time with extended family – I am lucky enough to have four children and eight grandchildren…
Who has been the biggest influence on your career/life so far? Career-wise, it’s the founder and then chief executive of LA Fitness, Fred Turok, whose entrepreneurial acumen and management style transformed the way I thought about business. He was charismatic and a real motivator. His genuine enthusiasm came from his utter belief in the product, which he lived and breathed, and that passion was infectious.
If you were charities minister for the day, what one thing would you do? I would allow charities to recover VAT on all of their activities. VAT is a tax on consumers, but it’s become a tax on charities given that charities cannot register for VAT, and therefore in reality can cover only a tiny amount of their VAT expenditure.