After graduating from university in 1996, I landed a job as buying and merchandising assistant at the retailer Hobbs.
There were pretty, shiny things to look at and lots of parties, but I soon realised that I'd made a big mistake. The focus was all profit; I was more driven by people and values.
Luckily, Oxfam was advertising for a buyer to help with marketing and merchandising. I was appointed as a marketing manager in 1997: the 12-month contract gave me a fantastic opportunity to work in the charity sector – and I was hooked.
The next year I got my big break as development manager at the NSPCC. I learnt from some of the best fundraisers in the industry. After three years I was ready for a step up, so I joined Shelter as major donors manager. I liked the role and the cause, but then my dream job appeared – head of major gifts at Christian Aid, a charity I'd supported for a long time. I worked there across trusts, foundations and legacies, all areas that appealed to me. I had a brilliant time, but my husband got a job near Portsmouth and we were starting a family, so we relocated in 2005.
I became a freelance consultant, which enabled me to choose contracts to fit around my children. Through doing this I came across FitzRoy; I covered maternity leave and jumped at the chance to stay on as director of fundraising and communications in 2010. I've got charity giants on my CV, but I love the diversity of working for a smaller charity.
Marianne Radcliffe is director of fundraising and communications at the learning disability charity FitzRoy