FD in Five Minutes: Rocio Roberts

Third Sector speaks to the director of finance and central services at Freedom from Torture

Rocio Roberts
Rocio Roberts

Why did you choose finance as a career? I am from Colombia, but have lived in England almost two-thirds of my life. I worked for a charity audit firm and then I joined Freedom from Torture in 1990. At a very early stage I knew that I wanted to work in finance. I am methodical and analytical; coupled with my logical thinking, that helped me to develop in this field.

What made you work in the charity sector? I had not planned to work for a charity, but an opportunity presented itself. Very soon after joining Freedom from Torture, I realised how lucky I was to work with people from all backgrounds with so much passion and commitment for their work. I could see first hand the difference they made to our clients. Working for Freedom from Torture is delightful, challenging, sometimes exhausting but most of all fulfilling and rewarding. I have grown with the organisation and continue to value the difference it makes to so many people.

What is the proudest moment of your career so far? Celebrating my 25th anniversary at Freedom from Torture. During this time, I feel I have contributed to the growth of the charity from a small group of people working in a single cramped building to a financially stable and well-run national organisation.

What do you do outside work? My grandchildren keep me very busy, but I always find time to do DIY around my house. I recently became involved with a group of people in my area using keep fit to improve our health and our lifestyles.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career/life so far? My first employer, a charity auditor, has been my mentor and my inspiration. His knowledge, wisdom and compassion for others helped me to become who I am now and changed my life forever.

If you were charities minister for the day, what one thing would you do?
I cannot imagine doing much in one day, but I would try to change the Gift Aid scheme. It is an administrative burden for charities, HMRC and, most importantly, for the donors.

Are you optimistic for the future of the charity sector? Charities continue to experience increasing demand for services, but I am optimistic! Despite the pressures on charities around compliance, and with economic uncertainty, charities are becoming more proactive in implementing strong organisational structures, financial strategies and using technologies. For example, at Freedom from Torture we are focusing on evidence of impact and outcomes with funds.

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