CV in brief:
- 2016-present: Addaction, chief executive (interim)
- 2015-2016: Addaction, executive director of HR
- 2005-2015: Addaction, HR director
- 1995-2005: Victim Support, head of HR
- 1993-1995: Southern Housing Group, personnel manager
A day in your life
Tell us about your job and organisation
I head up the organisation as chief executive and also look after HR, learning and development and corporate governance functions. Addaction is the national behaviour change charity that supports people with drug and alcohol misuse issues and mild to moderate mental health concerns.
Who do you report into?
The chair of the board of trustees.
Tell us about your team
Fabulous all 1,700 of them! I look after six members of the executive team plus my EA, company secretary, and heads of L&D and HR. They are the reason I have stayed so long. Great at what they do, hard working, committed, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and hugely supportive of making Addaction the best place in the voluntary sector to work.
What is the most rewarding part of your role?
That no two days are ever the same. That our staff are supported by the best managers and they in turn provide services to our front line staff that are second to none.
And the most challenging part?
Probably the constant challenge of having to rebid for contracts we have been operating for years, which if we lose means that we say goodbye to colleagues we have worked with for years and who don’t want to leave the organisation.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Lots of meetings with trustees, executive colleagues, external contacts, keeping on top of emails and plenty of time sitting on trains to sites all around the country.
Why did you choose your current organisation to work for?
I felt I could make a difference and think I have been pretty successful in doing so for the last decade. Since October, I've been operating as interim CEO looking after the whole organisation while we recruit for the position.
Perks and downsides of your role?
Perks – Great people to work with who really understand what the organisation does and why it exists.
Downsides – Are the constant challenge with funds. We would love to do more but are always hampered by the constant struggle of reducing budgets and financial cuts.
What skills are essential for the role you’re in?
Polictical Nous, networking, personal rapport, perseverance, positivity and above all, humour and broad shoulders.
How did you get to where you are now?
Hardwork, never missing an opportunity for self promotion and for taking any opportunity to gain existing skills and experiences. But above all, via networking.
What was your first job?
Waitrose for a Saturday job stacking shelves – and the Economic & Social Research Council for my first HR role. Both achieved via direct approaches and job centres.
Have you followed the career path you set out to?
Until I finished university I had no idea what I wanted to do. However, once I got into HR I have found my vocation and have pretty much followed what I wanted to do. I've never had a career path as such, just aspirations.
What challenges have you faced along the way?
The first challenge was to get into the sixth form as the head, feeling I wasn’t good enough. Then it was to get into uni. And then a paid job in HR – I got a foot in the door as a temp and then forced it open with longer contracts and supported training. Working for line managers in HR who have no people skills – I would go out of my way to demonstrate my own skills in this area!
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Being shortlisted for 'HR Director of the Year' at the HR Excellence Awards, and being listed as one of the 'Top 5 Most Influential HRDs’ in the Not For Profit Sector 2016. Then being asked to take over as chief executive while we recruit permanently.
What advice would you offer to others who are looking to get to where you are now?
Take every opportunity that comes your way. Be clear if it benefits you and if it doesn’t, don’t do it.
What advice would you give to your 22-year-old self?
Use every bit of spare cash to get on the property ladder and then keep buying.
- Coffee or tea? Tea – best start to the day
- Jam or marmalade? Marmalade – Duerrs and Thick Cut
- The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? The Beatles – Abbey Road – their best
- Mac or PC? PC – never owned a Mac
- The Guardian or The Times? – Neither, but the Observer on Sunday over the Times
- BBC or ITV? BBC – no ads
- M&S or Waitrose? Waitrose – it was my first Saturday job
- Morning or night? Morning these days definitely
- Rain on snow? Rain – because snow turns to sludge
- Sweet or savoury? Savoury – a whole bag of nuts
- App: Trip Advisor – to plan the next holiday
- TV show: Line of Duty – exquisite writing and acting
- Band: Tangerine Dream – all 200 albums and still around today approaching 50 years
- Song: Tones by Nova Nova – our wedding song
- Book: The Stand by Stephen King – the epic battle between good and evil
- Sports team: AFC Wimbledon – 6 promotions in 13 seasons and being made into a Hollywood film
- Thing to do on a Friday night: A beer in my local and then food
- Place to eat: Curry Royal in Wimbledon – best local curry house
- Holiday spot: Mauritius – where we got married
- Piece of advice you’ve been given: If you like working outdoors don’t work in an office – swiftly followed by "you create your own luck"