Joyce Materego has been director of finance and resources at CPAG since January 2016. We were delighted when she was recently named an Inspiring Financial Leader at the Charity Finance Group awards. We asked Joyce about life before CPAG, what drew her to our work, and what challenges lie ahead.
Tell us a bit about what you did before joining CPAG
Before joining CPAG I’d been working in the charity sector for seven years. I worked at Technology Trust (formerly Charity Technology Trust), which works with charities to help them deliver their objectives more effectively by using technology. Then I worked for FareShare – an organisation that tackles food poverty and food waste in the UK.
Earlier in my career I worked in book publishing and the media for more than 10 years, and qualified as a chartered accountant. The fact that I had both book publishing and charity sector finance experience made the role at CPAG a really attractive proposition, because I knew I would be able to combine my experiences so far.
What else attracted you to the role at CPAG?
What stood out for me when I researched CPAG was the fact that this charity was the organisation behind the introduction of child benefit in the late 1970s which began as a universal benefit. As a mother and someone passionate about the eradication of poverty, I wanted to be part of the organisation.
I also was very impressed by CPAG’s family friendly and work/life balance policies. I have since discovered that these policies are very actively implemented which makes CPAG an exemplary employer. We’re a committed London Living Wage employer, and ensure all staff members use their 30 day holiday allowance among other wonderful benefits.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy the interaction I have with all staff members. CPAG has a knack for attracting the very best professionals, and this is very true for our welfare rights and policy workers. We have a reputation for being ‘experts for experts’: our publications and training courses are proof of this. We have managed to maintain financial sustainability with these activities despite harsh economic conditions and cuts in government spending. Our beneficiaries come to us because they see the knowledge acquired here as paramount to their effectiveness.
But really, I enjoy my job. Full stop! I love coming in everyday to find out what is happening – no two days are the same. It is a very dynamic environment, and we have fantastic leadership in Alison Garnham who steers the senior management team and staff with great skill and tenacity.
The highlight for me every year is pulling together the annual report and financial statements for our broad range of stakeholders – including members, donors, the government and our own staff. I use this as a communication tool to tell the CPAG story: highlighting and celebrating our achievements, as well as examining any potential hazards ahead.
What are the most important aspects of your role?
In a nutshell, I see my role as being the watchdog, the catalyst and the reporter – allowing and encouraging more cash to flow in and reducing the cash that flows out – as well as reporting what happens in relation to CPAG’s plans.
I do this by regularly discussing our financial strategy and aims with the senior management team and the wider staff; this approach helps us to take advantage of opportunities and mitigate risks and threats. It is very much a team effort.
For the past two years we’ve been putting more emphasis on growing our fundraising income – and it shows in our financial performance. This will diversify our income and increase our financial sustainability.
What are the current challenges for CPAG and the charity sector?
The current challenges are mainly to maintain CPAG’s reputation as the sector leader in issues around child poverty, to reduce our deficit and to rebuild our reserves.
We are in a relatively strong position because we have a great reputation and have maintained a consistent level of revenue for four consecutive years. We understand the importance of guarding these and our other resources (including our people); I consider it my role to communicate this to the public, and more importantly to our supporters and donors.
Congratulations Joyce on your award!