FD in Five Minutes: Tania Cohen

Third Sector speaks to the director of finance and resources at London Youth

Tania Cohen
Tania Cohen

Why did you choose finance as a career? I didn’t choose finance (shhhh… don’t tell anyone that I’m not a life-long accountant). I wanted to work in the charity sector. My strengths are analytical and strategic skills, and in most charities, at a senior level, strategy is part of the finance role. But I love that my role is so much broader than that too. From the director of finance and resources position you have a unique perspective on the organisation and a great opportunity for leadership and impact.

What made you work in the charity sector? I got passionate about charities and the impact they have while volunteering for a shelter for homeless people when I was 18. I wanted to use my skills to make a difference, but recognised that I was too emotional for a front-line job. I couldn’t detach from the people I’d met and their stories. I applied for office jobs at Crisis and Shelter when leaving university and they both rejected me because I didn’t have enough experience. But several years later, on the third time of applying, I got a job at Crisis, then at Shelter, and I have never looked back.

What do you do outside work? Lots of volunteering – currently for the Small Charities Coalition, Crisis, Open House London and the Whitecross Street Party. I’m vice chair of Womankind Worldwide. I also bake lots of cakes – we have pay-day bakes in the office each month and are big celebrators of birthdays. I also sing in the London Symphony Orchestra Community Choir, which is great fun and has provided some fantastic experiences, including performing in an opera at the Barbican – I was a moon person.

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

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