FD in Five Minutes: Susan Cordingley

Third Sector speaks to the director of planning and resources at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations

Susan Cordingley
Susan Cordingley

Why did you choose finance as a career? To be honest, I don’t really see myself as having had a finance career. I’ve always loved the people parts of my job rather than the numbers. I studied English literature at university. When I finished my degree, I hadn’t any idea what I wanted to do, but knew I wanted to move to London. I decided that taking a training contract in a firm of accountants would be a good way to learn about business. My current role covers governance, planning, people management, and digital and system development as well as finance. I love the variety.

What made you work in the charity sector? At Haysmacintyre, where I started my career, my clients included several household-name charities. I always enjoyed working with them the most, so decided to move into the voluntary sector, becoming head of finance at the NCVO in 1996, then a director in 1998. I then worked in senior management at Guide Dogs in a variety of roles.

What is the proudest moment of your career so far? Securing my current job after a career break of 10 years. It’s hard for women who take family time out to get back on the career ladder where they stepped off. I’m proud of having the confidence to do that and even prouder of the NCVO for giving me the opportunity. More employers should be prepared to do the same. They are missing out on a huge pool of talented women.

What do you do outside work? I have two teenage daughters who keep me busy. I am squad manager for my daughter’s hockey team, so spend quite a lot of the weekend on the side of a hockey pitch. I still love reading and find it a great way to switch off, especially on the commute. I always book a Pilates session at the weekend and try to fit in a 5k run

Who has been the biggest influence on your career/life so far? Geraldine Peacock was a real mentor to me in my early career in the sector. She was chief executive of Guide Dogs when I worked there and always had boundless enthusiasm, energy and ideas. Sir Stuart Etherington has been a great boss both times round. He was the person who encouraged and supported me doing an MBA.

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