Change how businesses perceive dementia: a rewarding career with Alzheimer’s Society
Published: 21 Sep 2015 By Jennifer Jackson
Alzheimer’s Society is the UK’s leading support and research charity for people with dementia, their families and carers. There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK and numbers are set to rise to over 1 million by 2025. They invest in research, raise awareness of dementia and provide over 3000 local services across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
We spoke to Nick Vassallo, new partnerships manager in the corporate partnerships team, fundraising directorate, to find out what it’s like to work at Alzheimer’s Society, what it takes to foster strong strategic partnerships with companies, and why it’s an exciting time to join.
Why would someone want to work for Alzheimer’s Society?
One of the best things about working for Alzheimer’s Society is the fact that all our people want to create a better world for those affected by dementia and are involved in taking practical steps to make that happen. There are plenty of opportunities for employees to try something new.
This is a forward-thinking organisation that values your ideas, encourages your initiative and recognises your contribution. You will enjoy a really collaborative team culture, ongoing training and development, and a range of flexible benefits. But more than that, you will be able to look back in five, 10 or 15 years and know that we transformed the ways in which the most vulnerable members of our society are seen and supported.
In the corporate partnerships team in particular, we have the advantage of being able to change the way businesses respond to dementia, which can be very empowering and satisfying, as well as challenging. The team works in a fast-paced and upbeat environment so someone with plenty of enthusiasm would love it here.
What drives success in your team?
Testament to our people’s success, the corporate team have been shortlisted for Fundraising Team of the Year in the Third Sector Excellence Awards. We have also been listed in the top 10 charity brands in YouGov’s recent CharityIndex. Much of the fundraising team’s success is attributed to the way we manage to engage with our corporate supporters. We have moved a long way from purely employee fundraising to a more integrated way of working with different companies to change society’s perceptions of dementia.
For example, we have worked with Lloyds Banking Group and others to produce a financial charter highlighting best practice for supporting people affected by dementia in the financial services industry. The charter covers issues ranging from the provision of the most appropriate customer service to more complex issues such as power of attorney.
What roles are you recruiting for?
We are currently recruiting for a wide range of exciting roles across the Society, however, in the corporate partnerships team, we are looking for a corporate development manager - a new role that has been created to help the charity focus on developing long term strategic relationships with companies.
What kind of employee are you looking for?
Of course, the knowledge, skills and aptitude to do the job at hand is the initial prerequisite. Beyond that, however, it's about the drive and desire to make a difference. By living our values, we have the opportunity to play an important role during this historic window of time. Indeed, our combination of hard work, internal and external collaboration and solutions-based innovation means that we are already beginning to defeat dementia, and will continue to do so. It's a very exciting time to be part of Alzheimer’s Society.
For the corporate development manager role vacant in my team, we are looking for someone who can build effective relationships at a senior level. Someone creative who can spot opportunities and has a natural tenacity and perseverance to see things through. You also need to have an ability to build alliances internally so that your proposals incorporate the input of a range of colleagues from across the organisation.
We welcome applications from individuals with private sector and / or third sector experience, as long as you can demonstrate the ability to do the job and have an approachable and collaborative attitude.
What career progression and development opportunities do you offer your employees?
This is an area we continue to work hard on. We are striving to create a working environment where all individuals, paid and unpaid, are able to fulfil their potential and progress within the organisation, insofar as is possible.
Our measure on 'internal recruitment' is very positive and we attribute this, in part at least, to the four tier management development programme, action learning and mentoring initiatives we are rolling out. This is reinforced by the four specific learning pathways available to all our people, volunteers and employees.
Our aim is to establish a culture of continuous learning. Supported by appropriate and accessible learning and development initiatives and interventions, we believe we will nurture and retain the professional, passionate people we already have as well as those who join us in future. Our people are our key differentiator and developing them develops us and our work, ultimately benefiting people affected by dementia.
What exciting initiatives are you working on?
The Dementia Friends initiative, which we launched in the UK as part of our drive to change people’s perceptions of dementia and create dementia friendly communities. We strive to embed our work into all our partners’ organisations with the aim of transforming the way they think, act and talk about the condition. Marks & Spencer, Flight Centre and Lloydspharmacy are just some examples of our partners who have incorporated the Dementia Friends programme into their organisations.
Sum up what it’s like to work at Alzheimer’s Society
Our employees are always prepared to put the organisation and its mission first - it’s a very supportive and collaborative working culture. The work we do is often in the public eye. It’s very rewarding and exciting - there is never a dull moment!