Profile: Lesley-Anne Alexander

Careers in social care

Lesley-Anne Alexander is chief executive at the Royal National Institute of the Blind.

How long in the job? Since 2004.

Best training ever done: My diploma in management studies gave me a solid grounding in management practice and helped me understand how other sectors operated. It freed my thinking, allowing me to see good practice in the private sector and industry and to use it in a direct way in my own work. At the same time I realised that the standard of professionalism in the public sector is just as good as elsewhere. 

I didn’t get where I am today by: Sitting behind a desk all day. I believe passionately in getting out to see the work that is going on and listening to colleagues and service users.

My worst interview experience: A guide dog licking my leg while trying to concentrate on my interview at RNIB. It was rather disconcerting.

Best move I’ve ever made: To RNIB because it has given me so many opportunities. I was lucky to join at a time when RNIB was ready for change and a new focus. The fact that 80% of our trustees are blind or partially sighted has meant we’ve been able to develop a strategy that really works for our service users. We now have a very clear business and budget plan for the next three years and it’s an exciting position to be in.

Me and my career: It is fantastic working for an organisation that’s respected and well known. It gives you opportunities to make a real difference to people’s lives. At RNIB we’ve been able to influence a whole range of legislation to improve the rights of blind and partially sighted people.

Also as a well-known charity you’re able to attract high profile figures such as Sir Trevor McDonald and Rod Stewart, who’ve recently supported our campaigning and fundraising work.

The other thing I love about my job is the sheer variety. One minute I am working with the advertising agency on our next campaign, then I might be in discussions about a merger, meeting with the board to develop our strategy or talking to  service users at one of our establishments. But like every job I can’t get away from e-mails – which I answer myself – generally about 150 a day. 

Chief executive, RNIB
1998-2003 Director of operations, Peabody Trust
1997-8 Interim director of housing, London Borough Enfield
1992-7 Head of housing management, London Borough Enfield
1986-1992 Various housing management posts, London Borough Ealing
1980-1986 Resident warden, London Borough Ealing

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