#MakeAFuss: 'I’ve never become complacent, you can’t afford to' - Concern's Angela Whyte 4 months ago

#MakeAFuss: 'I’ve never become complacent, you can’t afford to' - Concern's Angela Whyte

Are you a job hopper?

Chances are you just might be.

As industries evolve and young workers seek to try out different things, the concept of the 'job for life' is no longer a reality or even a desire for many of us.

So what does it take to have some sticking power and build a long-term career with one organisation?

Just ask Angela Whyte, Concern's Director of Fundraising. She's been in her role for almost two years but has been working for the charity since 2002.

She tells us that after 16 years, it's passion for the cause that has kept her with Concern.

"It’s not that I’ve spent hours working on campaigns to fill the pockets of shareholders."

Angela studied Commerce in UCD after school but as she watched her friends go down various routes, she just knew the worlds of big business or finance just weren't for her.

She'd been interested in volunteering since her school days and says that "the cause of trying to do good just appealed to me."

She put her skills to use with other organisations before Concern convinced her to come and work in its marketing team.

Her reason for loving her work is the same now as it was back then.

"I just have a passion for it," she says simply.

"Seeing what we do, the impact we have on the ground with people’s lives, the variety of countries that we work in really interests me."

Angela says that she's still as gripped as ever by the desire to help.

"I’ve never become complacent, you can’t afford to. The job is constantly changing, there are emergencies that happen so your interest is always here.

"Also because I’ve changed roles, the responsibilities change.

"Even though I’ve been here so long, the perspective I’ve seen has changed and that just keeps me interested."

Hearing the first-person accounts of the people Concern helps "makes it worthwhile," she adds.

"It’s not that I’ve spent hours working on campaigns to fill the pockets of shareholders.

"If you’re having a bad day – we all have them – where you’re wrecked and run down, and you come across a colleague or hear a staff briefing from the field, you’re immediately inspired again.

"It doesn’t take me long to feel re-motivated. I have to do something, it’s just in my DNA to help."

Still, Angela is candid about the fact that she hasn't always found the job or her progression through Concern easy.

Over the years she's had positions from marketing assistant right up to the director one she now holds. She admits that with each new role she's felt unsure of herself.

Looking back, she wishes she'd been more comfortable being uncomfortable.

"I should have looked at them from the point of view of, 'enjoy the challenge, it’s a learning curve and see the positives and the opportunities of the move' as opposed to the possibility of things going wrong.

"If you’re going to progress, you’re not going to know everything when you step into a new role. You will learn."

She admits that she still puts herself under pressure but says it's difficult not to in her line of work.

"You want to make sure you do the best you can for the people we’re trying to help. You carry a huge sense of responsibility knowing you want to help more people."

 

"You have to be comfortable with the sudden onset of change."

A big concern for anyone working in charities in Ireland is trust.

Public trust in charities has been on the decline, Angela says, and Concern hasn't been immune to this.

For someone whose job entails asking people to hand over money and managing relationships with donors, she acknowledges that building confidence is a huge priority.

The charity has been recognised as having the highest possible standards in governance and accountability, something that Angela says has stood to it.

Giving donors real examples of the people they're helping and reinforcing the fact that they're saving lives is also key.

She cites a recent €1 million commitment from Kerry Group for a project in Niger as an example of building trust to maintain a donor relationship.

"We would always report back with where their money is going.

"It’s incredibly valuable to us, at a community level they’re transforming lives because of improvement in agricultural practices.

"We’re very transparent. We have to be and we want to be and that does help with trust levels."

So - would you consider a career in charities?

#MakeAFuss: 'I’ve never become complacent, you can’t afford to' - Concern's Angela Whyte

You might think an academic background in humanities or politics would set you up but contrary to that, Angela says a business head is very desirable.

She recommends the Charities Institute's qualification in fundraising or a commerce course for someone considering the sector.

People skills and an ability to keep up with a fast-developing situations are also key.

"In humanitarian work, the goal posts change quite a lot," she says.

"You can have all the plans in the world but then you have an emergency, if there’s a sudden onset earthquake you drop your tools and you shift focus.

"You have to be comfortable with this sudden onset of change."

Even with all the skills in the world, landing and holding onto the perfect job in the not-for-profit sector comes back to being truly obsessed with a particular issue.

"Be passionate about the cause that you choose, have a genuine interest," Angela says.

"It’s the reason I’ve stayed here so long and I'm as interested in development as I was the first day I walked in."

 

#MakeAFuss

We know that Irish businesswomen are a force to be reckoned with so here at Her.ie, we're making a fuss of the ladies who’ve made a fuss on their journey to success.

We want to celebrate the grafters and the risk-takers, those who’ve followed a passion or spotted a niche, those still forging their own path and those who are at the top of their game.

In our series Make A Fuss, we’re talking to inspiring Irish women in business about their careers, what they’ve learned along the way and where they’re going next.

Know a kickass woman in business? Get in touch with us via anna@her.ie and let us know.