FD in Five Minutes: Robert Butler

Third Sector speaks to the chief financial officer at the Alzheimer's Society

Robert Butler
Robert Butler

Why did you choose finance as a career? I’ve always had a soft spot for maths and I am a naturally curious person. My career in accountancy has afforded me the opportunity to really understand how large organisations operate and succeed.

What made you work in the charity sector? My younger brother has Down’s Syndrome, so I spent a lot of my childhood volunteering at his school and at mental health charities. After 20 years working in financial services, I was looking for a career change and the more I researched finance roles in the charity sector the more I realised how challenging and rewarding they were.

What is the proudest moment of your career so far? I’m extremely proud to be working for the Alzheimer’s Society. I don’t think I’ve ever worked for such a driven and ambitious organisation before. We are expanding our essential services and research portfolio, as well as changing how society responds to dementia. It's now the UK’s biggest killer, with someone developing it every three minutes.

What do you do outside work? When I’m not spending time with my family, I’m out on my bike either cycling to and from work or out with my cycling club on the weekend. I find the repetitive nature of cycling to work gives me great thinking time and an excellent way to wind down at the end of the day.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career/life so far? My finance roles have allowed me to work with and senior leaders operating in all sorts of challenging environments and through periods of change. It’s been a long and rewarding apprenticeship.

If you were charities minister for the day, what one thing would you do? I would ask my government colleagues to once and for all address the social care crisis. The social care crisis is a dementia crisis – three-fifths of people using homecare and 70 per cent of people in care homes have dementia.

Are you optimistic for the future of the charity sector? Yes. The charity sector plays a vital role in delivering public services to society. The tremendous generosity of the British public demonstrates their confidence in the charity sector’s ability to support the causes they care about.

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