“Getting involved is a unique, hands-on, learning experience that heightens normal business expertise. It also improves emotional intelligence which is crucial if you want to succeed in management but which businesses find it very hard to train people in. The value of being able to empathise, motivate and to deal with people who are not like you is hard to understate and I now know there are few better people to learn from than those who lead volunteers and staff in charities.”
After starting out in strategic planning at BOC International, Ann Humphries built extensive experience of both business theory while teaching Kingston Business School, and practice. She has been a director of the London Development Agency, the New West End Company and most recently served as Director of Development for the Executive Board of John Lewis Department Stores.
Through The Fore, Ann has mentored the CEOs of many small charities and social enterprises, including Read Easy, The Ministry of Stories, The Gifted, London Football Journeys, and Pulse Arts. Over several years, Ann has helped these organisations to think strategically and develop the financial viability of their expanding organisations.
“Initially I was surprised by the sheer scale of the charity sector but I quickly realised that charities are just businesses with charitable objectives – the structures are the same. The young charities I’ve helped feel much like business start-ups but if anything the pressures are greater because it is so difficult to fundraise.
“In the commercial sector people are often limited to the areas of their specific expertise. Being involved in a whole organization, however small, allows you to see all areas and how they interconnect. This is certainly the case when working in charities and experiencing this broader perspective is a huge learning curve; a major benefit to both the individual and the employer.”
“It is very grounding to work with people who achieve so much with so few resources – I have felt a sense of achievement that it is hard to find at work. I am really proud of helping people.”