Angharad Orchard is CEO of Katharine House Hospice. She joined SV as a trainee in 2000 and left in 2004 for a charity finance role.
How has your finance background helped you in your role as a CEO?
My approach to my finance roles has been to see them as business enabling roles – working across the organisation to help it achieve its’ objectives. The CEO is natural extension of that – they are the ‘ultimate enabler’.
For many charities, financial sustainability is a major risk area. It is critical that the CEO has the ability to understand the underlying business structure of their charity and the financial risks and opportunities in the charity’s strategy.
Do you think more charity FDs should aspire to be CEOs?
Yes – absolutely!
However, it does depend on the specific circumstances of each charity. Some charity CEO roles are more externally focussed and so may require more skills in advocacy and influencing for example. In those circumstances you might want to an experienced finance person in a Deputy CEO or COO type role.
What advice would you give them?
You need to look beyond technical finance skills – strong leadership qualities are key so understand what skills you have and how you can develop these further. Ensure you understand and are committed to the broader organisational strategy, not just the financial strategy Be prepared to apply leadership and management skills to areas outside of your core competence – in my case as CEO of a hospice, for example, I need to manage a team of doctors and nurses and ensure we comply with health and social care legislation.
Why did you originally decide on becoming an accountancy trainee?
It was somewhat by accident. My aspiration was to work in the charity sector. After graduating (with a history degree), I saw the SV opportunity and decided to apply. I immediately liked the feel of the firm on interview day and was delighted to be offered the role.
What are the lasting skills or experiences that you took from your training at Sayer Vincent?
Professional judgement – I was always asked the ‘so what’ question. When raising a point in a management letter or on an audit I always needed to explain the implication. This makes you think more broadly and understand what’s really important.
It also gave you a real sense of responsibility. At SV, from an early stage in your training you get experience on delivering a full audit from start to finish. You were properly supported along the way but it was clear that you were responsible.
Finally, the experience you get from working with such a broad range of organisations and people. I’ve gone on to work in a number of very different organisations – including Terrence Higgins Trust, Somerset House Trust, Safelives. My initial experience at SV put me in a good position to adapt to the requirements of each.
What have been the key steps on the road from being an audit trainee to a charity CEO?
I’ve worked in a number of different charities. Each move has resulted in me taking on a more senior role and has broadened my knowledge and experience base. This breadth of experience has been invaluable.
I have also really valued the on-going support that SV has provided me since I left. I can keep in touch with other SV alumni who are now in similar roles. And I know that the team at SV are always willing to provide support and advice when I need it.
What advice would you give others considering starting on that road?
Be prepared to work hard. Know you’ll be given support to develop your career. And know you’ll have the opportunity to meet a broad range of people and different charities.
Be really motivated by working with charity sector but also focus on how in your role as auditor you can go above and beyond the traditional role of an auditor and really help the organisations you are working with.