Joe Flynn had worked his way up in a career at a finance company, then the pandemic struck and made him realise he would be more fulfilled in a role that better-aligned with his values. Now, he’s loving his new charity role at the Vegan Society and his job satisfaction is higher than ever. He told us how he made the move into the charity sector and why it was the perfect opportunity for him.
“I worked for a finance company for 12 years, predominantly in buy-to-let mortgages, working my way up to manager. I enjoyed it, but during Covid-19 I had the chance to take stock of where I was. I asked myself what did I really want to get out of my career? I realised I wanted to be working for a company where their morals and ethics aligned with my own.
“I really enjoyed management, so I wanted a managerial role. I had a look on CharityJob’s website to see what was out there. I’ve got volunteer experience in the homeless sector, so I was originally looking at somewhere like Crisis or Shelter. But on the second day of looking I saw the role of Trademark Services Manager at The Vegan Society. Whilst I didn’t have any experience of working in the food sector, I met their criteria in terms of the skillset they were asking for. And I’ve been vegan for eight or nine years now, so it’s something that I’m passionate about. It was the perfect opportunity.
“I did think I might be up against people who had more experience within the charity sector, but I knew I had transferable skills. So I applied for the role, and I heard back from The Vegan Society pretty quickly. Within a couple of days they had booked in an interview and within a week I’d been offered the job.
“I was over the moon, but I was also a bit nervous. It was a new start after pretty much my whole working life in one company, where I was established and knew everyone. The challenge of having to prove yourself again can be quite nerve-wracking.
“People think that wages in the charity sector won’t be as good as the corporate sector. And whilst I did take a pay cut for this role, it wasn’t a significant one and the job satisfaction I now get is more important to me.
“The leading factor in my decision to move was that I wanted to have a job that I looked forward to every day. The one thing I’ve really noticed at The Vegan Society is that everyone is pulling in the same direction and wants to educate people on veganism and get the vegan word out there as much as possible. That aligns with my morals and ethics and it’s inspiring to be in a workplace where everyone is so focused on the same objectives.
“In my role of Trademark Services Manager, I look at all the charity’s processes and interactions with customers and how to improve customers’ day-to-day experiences of dealing with The Vegan Society. I can’t believe I’ve been there six months already, it’s absolutely flown by. The job satisfaction is there 100%.
“We have an office in Birmingham, but we mainly work remotely. There’s no set structure in terms of having to be in the office a certain amount of time. They’ve basically said not to come in just to do your day-to-day job, it’s not necessary, but come in if it’s worthwhile and will have some impact. I’ve been in a handful of times, probably about once a month, for collaboration, working on projects and team-building days, and it’s been good to have that face-to-face interaction.
“I’ve come from a corporate background where the hours were pretty standard: 8.30am-5pm with an hour lunch break. Whereas The Vegan Society has flexi-working, so you can work over on some days and finish earlier on other days, as long as you’re doing all your hours. I really appreciate that; it gets the best out of people as they have a better work-life balance, which is really important.
“Everyone working at The Vegan Society wants to be there. It’s more than just a job. I don’t have to work at motivating my team because they’re already so motivated to do the job. That’s been one of the real insights in terms of moving into the charity sector.
“One of the reasons I wanted to work in the sector is that there’s lots of opportunities to get involved in different things that aren’t in your job description. You have to wear multiple hats and help out with things that you might not necessarily have had experience with before. That challenge keeps the job fresh. You’re constantly working on new initiatives and projects, which is good for your development—and your CV as well.
“As with starting any new job, moving into the charity sector felt like a bit of a risk but it’s been a really good transition. The increased job satisfaction has been absolutely worth it and I haven’t regretted it at all. I’m really glad I made the move and I’d fully encourage anyone thinking about making the same move to go for it.”
Interested in a more meaningful career? Browse opportunities in the charity sector.
Do you have a story to share about how you moved into the sector? Want to tell us why you love your charity job? Get in touch on [email protected].