Mike Hobday wants to 'take on a tough job and do well' at the British Heart Foundation

The new director of policy joins from Macmillan Cancer Support, and wants to see the health charity improve its engagement with government at a high level

Mike Hobday
Mike Hobday

On his LinkedIn profile, Mike Hobday, who becomes director of policy and research at the British Heart Foundation at the end of September, refers to himself as a "driven professional with a thirst for success". This description is reflected in his career in the charity sector, which has included leading groundbreaking campaigns at Macmillan Cancer Support and the League Against Cruel Sports.

At Macmillan, his team successfully pushed for free prescriptions for cancer patients and for the Cancer Drugs Fund, set up in 2010; and, at the League Against Cruel Sports, he led the campaign to ban fox hunting.

Hobday, a Cambridge graduate, says that he likes the "intellectual stimulation of taking on a tough job and doing well", and is motivated by the desire to make a difference to the lives of real people. "I'm lucky that at both Macmillan and the League Against Cruel Sports there were new opportunities, but there comes a point where a lot of the challenges are similar," he says. "Then it's healthy to move on."

The BHF announced a new strategy in August, with more emphasis on research and prevention. After the retirement of Betty McBride, the post of director of policy and communications was split into two new roles. These are both being filled by people from the cancer sector: Hobday from Macmillan and Carolan Davidge from Cancer Research UK, who becomes director of marketing and engagement in October.

One challenge of Hobday's new role is to highlight to policy-makers the importance of the prevention of cardiovascular disease, the biggest killer in the UK. "Cancer and heart disease are very different conditions, but there are lessons to be learnt about how we talk about the urgency of getting treatment and care right, and the importance of research and professional skills," he says.

"Macmillan and CRUK have done well in promoting these aspects and there are lessons that can be applied, which Carolan and I can bring to the field."

Influencing policy-makers does not daunt Hobday, who stood for parliament for Labour in 2010. "I have created at Macmillan what I think is the most effective influencing function in the charity world," he says. "It sounds immodest, but if you look at surveys in which MPs talk about the effectiveness of charities, Macmillan scores at the top."

It is this ethos of high-quality engagement with government that Hobday wants to transfer to the BHF. But his personal political aspirations have gone, he says – he now prefers to concentrate instead on his career and his three young grandsons.

2014: Director of policy, British Heart Foundation
2011: Director of policy and research, Macmillan Cancer Support
2008: Head of campaigns, policy and public affairs, Macmillan Cancer
2007: Head of legal and political affairs, League Against Cruel Sports
2001: Head of public affairs, League Against Cruel Sports
1997: Chief of staff for Labour MP Bill Rammell
1994: Political organiser for Hugh Kerr MEP

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