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Mango Members on Placement: Juliette Webb with BRAC UK
28 March 2018
Juliette Webb joined our Register of Finance Professionals in early 2017 and has already secured two placements through our recruitment service. We recently caught up with Juliette who told us about how her new position as the Finance and Resources Manager for BRAC UK compares to her previous life in the public sector.
I’m nine months into my role and it is very varied; at times it can be back to basics, such as tying up loose ends for the upcoming end of the financial year, whilst at other times I will be working at the strategic level working closely with the CEO and Programme Director. My role has essentially the same scope as a Head of Finance although the role also encompasses many HR and office management responsibilities. There is a real spectrum of work in the role, so there is never a dull moment!
My role differs a great deal from my previous jobs. This is my first full time position with an NGO, although I have done some volunteer placements in Vietnam and in Zambia. For many years I worked in the public sector, spending several years within the police in Surrey, and then with the Metropolitan Police in London. In my previous roles I was accustomed to working in large teams, with a number of accounting staff reporting to me, and reporting myself to senior accountants. In this position I work with a much smaller team, with just one accounting and administrative assistant to support me. I also work with closely with the Programme team, developing, and then monitoring and reporting on project budgets. There are some new challenges that I have had to get to grips with; for example, working with teams across the world and across multiple time zones can present difficulties. For instance, we work closely with the Dhaka office in Bangladesh, which is five or six hours ahead of us. What’s more, the Bangladeshi weekend falls on Friday and Saturday, meaning that if we need to communicate with the Bangladeshi office towards the end of the week, we have to do this by midday Thursday or we won’t be able to get in touch until we return on the following Monday morning. We also operate on different accounting systems, as whilst we use QuickBooks in the UK, internationally they have a bespoke accounting system.
BRAC was founded in Bangladesh and is committed to creating opportunities for people living in poverty. This includes programmes in education, healthcare, microfinance, girls’ empowerment, agriculture, human and legal rights, social enterprises, a bank, a university, and the world’s largest mobile money platform. BRAC has programmes in ten different countries across Africa and Asia. In January 2017 BRAC was ranked as the number one NGO in the world for the second consecutive year by the Geneva-based NGO Advisor and is unique among the major non-profits in that its overall budget is majority self-financed. BRAC UK, an affiliate of BRAC, works to raise resources for its programmes in Africa and Asia, raise awareness about BRAC across Europe and develop partnerships with local and global organisations, donor agencies, academic and research institutions and governments.
Although this might sound like the conventional response, I am really enjoying my role with BRAC because I feel like I am contributing to something worthwhile; indeed, the teams at BRAC are all so passionate, driven and motivated by the mission and work of BRAC that at times people can find it difficult to stop and find a work/life balance! Knowing that you are contributing to an organisation that is helping to save lives is a great feeling even if it just a drop in the ocean. I’ve also had the chance to visit the Bangladeshi office in Dhaka and to visit some of BRAC’s programmes. It’s always a fantastic experience both to meet your overseas colleagues and also to witness the positive effects that the programmes are bringing to the beneficiaries. As BRAC works in countries across Africa and Asia, I’m hoping there will be more opportunities to get into the field in the future, as I work to monitor our grant funded projects.
Right: Juliette and her BRAC colleagues on a visit to Bangladesh.
Since joining the Mango Register of Finance Professionals in 2017, after a recommendation of a friend who is also a register member, this has been the second role I secured through Mango. Earlier in 2017 I was also hired by People in Aid as a temporary Contract Accountant in the UK. The recruitment team have been very supportive throughout the process. The Register also has an excellent reputation and once employers see that you are a register member they know that you are coming recommended.
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