FD in Five Minutes: Umashish Panda

Third Sector speaks to the finance manager at the textile reuse and international development charity Traid

Umashish Panda
Umashish Panda

Why did you choose finance as a career? My father encouraged me to choose it and, as I started studying, I luckily found that I liked it a lot. I grew up in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, in eastern India and did a bachelor of commerce there before coming to the UK to do a MBA in finance.

What made you work in the charity sector? Getting into the charity sector was pure serendipity. After I finished my Master's degree, I was looking for work experience in London and in 2008 I started as a volunteer at Traid, supporting the recycling team. After six months, I was offered the job as recycling assistant, which I did for two years. Then the role of finance manager came up, which of course I applied for. It’s been a steep learning curve, but it’s been a brilliant journey so far.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career/life so far? My father has been the biggest influence on my life. He believed in me, gave me the freedom to make my own choices and has always stood by my decisions and supported me. The best piece of advice he gave me was to learn about life by taking steps on my own. As I’ve found out, the first steps are always the hardest, but then it gets easier and easier.

If you were charities minister for the day, what one thing would you do? I’d stop business rate relief for charity shops being such a postcode lottery and introduce 100 per cent rate relief for all charity shops. A recent Charity Retail Association report revealed that the majority of councils in the UK no longer offer full business rate relief to charity shops, and in London none of the 32 boroughs offer the full rate, while 60 per cent offer no rate relief at all. Councils should be celebrating, empowering and supporting the charity shops doing such fantastic work for so many causes on their high streets and in their communities. This is a straightforward and practical way to do that.

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