How long in the job? Since August 2003.
Career highlight: I’ve loved every job I’ve done,
apart from six months as a wages clerk.
Best training ever done: Creative management
residential course as part of my Open University MBA.
Over the course of my career, I wish I had:
Learned to trust my instincts sooner. Gut instinct in management is
often distilled experience.
The person who has influenced me the most during my career
is: Chancellor of the exchequer Gordon Brown. Working for
him taught me being strategic doesn’t mean you stop being
The most painful lesson I’ve learned at work is:
Always start by checking the finances.
Me and my career: The Refugee Council is never
dull. If there is already a message on my mobile when I get up at
6.30 am, I know it’s not going to be a quiet day, so I turn on the
radio and find out what the latest story is about refugees. Our
staff and volunteers do everything from providing food, clothing or
advice to working to change policy and shape public opinion through
research or campaigns. My job as chief executive is to oversee all
that, including managing staff and shaping our future strategy. But
my days are always different. Recent activities include: meeting my
trustees; an introduction to new Home Office ministers; seeing
civil servants; attending a (brilliant) benefit evening for the
Refugee Council; running a workshop for senior Anglican clerics;
and shortlisting for a new head of policy. In between meetings I
had morning coffee with a political editor; lunch with the heads of
the Scottish and Welsh Refugee Councils and gave an after-dinner
speech to Home Office immigration managers.
2003-current: Chief executive, Refugee Council.
2000-3: Adviser to Gordon Brown, chancellor.
1997-2000: Director, One Parent Families charity.
1991-7: Director, UKCOSA, (international education charity).
1990-1: Deputy director, UKCOSA.
1988-90: National president, National Union of Students.