At Work: Finance and IT - Career development - No need to get entrenched in your job

Helen Verney, finance director at Jewish Care

I confess, there was a tear in my eye as I watched Tony wave farewell at the Labour conference, only to slip back in through the side door.

There has been so much debate about what factors determine when it's the 'right time' for someone to go that it got me wondering. As I dabbed away the tears, I remembered a chat I had recently with the finance director of a top 100 charity, who I very much admired when I joined the sector eight years ago. Today he is still working for the same charity, and when I jokingly asked him whether he was now intending to hang on until retirement, I was rather sad to here him say "yes" (he must have at least another six years to go).

Can a charity finance director still be contributing to the same extent after eight years as they did in years two and three? Wouldn't someone new bring a fresh perspective and a range of new experiences to that charity?

I cannot see how rooting yourself to your desk for 20 years can be in the best interests of the charity or of yourself.

When we move to a new organisation, shouldn't we spend the first year whipping away the dustsheets from areas either neglected or of less interest to our predecessors, searching out the high-risk areas and moving the organisation on in large steps? Do some people really spend it behind their desks with large spades, getting themselves entrenched for the long haul?

It depends on the individual situation and the individual people involved - well it always does, doesn't it? Everyone thinks their own organisation is very complex and everyone thinks they are perfectly well-rounded and unbiased in their work preferences. The reality is that very few organisations are truly complex, and most of us do have particular likes and dislikes at work.

We will inevitably find more motivation, more time and more energy for the parts of our role that we love, and 'what is needed' for the areas we dislike. Some management training courses will tell you that this isn't necessarily a bad thing and that more can be achieved by concentrating on your strengths (which tend to be the things we like) than trying to develop your weaknesses.

The point I am trying to make is that if finance directors were to move on, say, every five years, not only would many organisations get to benefit from continual large steps forward in the areas in which each finance director has particular strengths, but the finance directors would also inevitably become more rounded and experienced individuals, rather than festering away in their trenches.

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