Will, Head of Finance - Health Poverty Action | London, UK.
New EmployerHealth Poverty Action UK
Health Poverty Action works to strengthen poor and marginalised people in their struggle for health. We prioritise those missed out by almost everyone else. Our work falls into four broad categories:
In-country development programmes
We work in partnership with poor and marginalised communities in 13 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America to help them improve their health, prioritising the communities almost everyone else in the world has forgotten.
Influencing policy and practice
We are driven by our conviction that the denial of health rights is not acceptable, and we are committed to a vision of health for all.
Responding to emergencies
When emergencies occur, we work with those affected to mobilise all possible resources for urgent response.
Providing consultancy and other contracted services
Health Poverty Action’s 28 years of development experience means we are well placed to offer consultancy services, which we have been doing for the past five years.
For more info visit www.healthpovertyaction.org/
Head of Finance
Will contacted AfID as he wanted to put his accountancy skills to good use whilst having a break from his job. He decided upon a placement at a Ghanian NGO called Young People We Care (YPWC), a youth led and youth focused organisation.
Will spent six-weeks at YPWC and found that not only was his placement an enjoyable, eye-openeing experience but that it also opened the door to working full-time in the international development sector. After a short time searching for roles in the sector he successfully secured the role of Head of Finance for UK charity Health Poverty Action. We caught up with Will to see if he thought volunteering made a difference.
Q: Why did you choose to volunteer; was it part of a planned career change?
Not exactly - I knew that I wanted a change of direction but wasn't exactly sure where. Essentially I wanted a little time out from the career ladder. I wanted to do something exciting but I wanted to ensure that I did something productive and constructive at the same time. Sitting on a beach in Thailand for six-months didn't appeal. AfID, being able to offer me a new experience while making use of my existing skills, seemed the ideal choice.
Q: How did volunteering benefit your decision to work in the International Development sector?
It showed that, firstly, I understood something about the challenges of working in the sector and how it differs to the corporate world. Most importantly, prospective employers can see that you have made a commitment - in my case, leaving a steady job to work unpaid for a few months in a new and unfamiliar environment. Potentially a huge risk. Most of the interviews I had with NGOs on my return recognised the commitment that I had shown.
Q: Where are you working now? Can you tell us a little about your current role and how it differs to your last full time position in your previous sector?
I am Head of Finance at Health Poverty Action. I have 3 UK finance and admin staff and I have responsibility for the finance teams in 13 countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa. The main differences are that the working culture; working in an organisation that fits more comfortably with my own values is much more rewarding than being with corporations.
Q: What would you say are the pros & cons of your decision?
The main pros is that the organisation I work for is fantastic. It’s great to go home each day knowing that somehow I have made a difference. One of the cons is that it is lower pay than my previous role (but still a decent wage). Also, compared to what I was used to I find myself working with limited resources. You have to stretch people, systems etc to limits that wouldn't be accepted in a big business (who would undoubtedly have a lot more money to throw at the finance / admin / IT departments!)
Q: What would be your advice to other accountants considering a similar career change?
Don't think about whether it's the right time, whether it's a bit of a risk etc. Just do it. I did and have never looked back!