Hello from Andy Graham, COO

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Hello from Andy Graham, COO

Our new Chief Operating Officer says Hello

Hello to you all,

A few weeks ago the announcement was made that I had taken on the role at the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for the Chilterns MS Centre. Somewhat belatedly I would like to say a personal “Hello” from me and to share with you a little bit about me, where I have come from and what I hope to achieve as the Centre’s COO.

I have to start off by simply saying what a brilliant organisation the Centre is. We have a very clear purpose, a dedicated workforce of fantastic staff and volunteers, a super building, and with a very generous “community of donors” we are able to make a real and positive difference to people’s lives. It may sound simple – but to me, it is quite humbling.

I joined the Centre in December 2017 as the finance manager, picking up responsibility for facilities a year or so ago, but I am very aware that many of you will not know me at all, or know me as the chap up in the finance office. I have many faces and names to get to know better, and this is just a start to help you get to know me better!

OK – where did I come from?

I am a chartered accountant by training and spent many years in my early career working for large companies including Black & Decker, Coca Cola and Taylor Wimpey. Whilst I have done the technical accounting roles, most of my experience has been commercial and project-based which is why I can honestly say that “I have found accounting fun” (not that I admit that often!).

Somewhere back in time I planted a seed in my life plan to “do something for other people”, no real destination, just a deep desire to step out of the personal rat race and focus on helping others. So when the break came a couple of years ago, I took it and here I am.

So who am I and what else do I do?

Going far back, my academic love was for science. I did a science degree, with a focus on genetics, and whilst everything has moved on so fast, I still have a profound fascination for science, our planet and what the future holds.

Getting back to the here and now – I am married to Cathy and have two daughters Hannah and Lucy who are starting to carve out their own paths, but yes, still living with us in Aston Clinton, home for the past 20 years.

The family would not be complete without our dogs, currently, two, who remind us every morning that a good walk is the first priority of the day.

In my spare time, I like to get out into our beautiful countryside either running or on a bike – or taking the dogs out again!

And what will the Centre’s COO do, and how does this compare to a CEO?

As COO, my primary objective is to ensure the safe and efficient running of the Centre to make sure we continue to excel in all we do. The charity’s current financial position adds a challenging dimension to this objective, something we cannot ignore, and as an organisation, we will need to all work together and embrace whatever developments are needed to ensure the long term sustainability of this great place.

Given the leadership structure is now much reduced from a year ago, some of the CEO responsibilities will be split out, primarily the management of external-facing fundraising relationships including major donors, patrons, clubs and societies and so on. These tasks will be taken on by the Board of Trustees, mainly by Catherine Golds. Catherine and I will be working closely over the next six months or so to ensure the fundraising team get all the support they need given the vacant position for a head of fundraising.

January and February are the busiest months of the year in the finance department, so making the transition to the COO role at this time of year is especially demanding.  I will apologise now if I am not as visible as you would all like, but that will change during February and March. However, do feel free to email me if you have any questions, or book in some time to see me later in March.

I very much look forward to working with the members, staff, volunteers, and the Board of Trustees to help this Centre keep doing what we do so well – changing people’s lives for the better.

Andy Graham

Chief Operating Officer