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A career of two halves


Published: 29 Jun 2022

Headshot of Sue Weighell
In the latest of our occasional series profiling ICAEW Manchester members who are making a difference, we meet Sue Weighell and learn about her work with various charities.

Finance Director Sue’s career falls into two distinct parts – professional and industry. Having worked in several firms, the professional part of her career concluded with a stint at EY, a role she left after the birth of her first child. After four years of part-time self-employment and the arrival of her second child, Sue made the move into industry, starting out as a part-time finance manager and ending up as group Finance Director after the company grew.

It was a change in circumstances that started Sue on her journey to working with charities, “for a number of reasons when the opportunity for redundancy came, I decided to make the most of it, and set up as a portfolio finance director” says Sue – it was obviously the right move, as she’s been doing this for eleven years and has no plans to change direction any time soon.

The flexibility afforded to her by having a portfolio career meant that Sue had time to think about doing some charity finance. “It’s something that comes easily to me as an accountant, but over the years I’d seen the challenges that non-finance people often have with finance, so I looked to offer my skills”.

Like buses, two trustee opportunities came along at the same time in 2015, “both roles were by recommendation by people who knew me, so I took them both” she says.

Children’s Burns Foundation is a small charity supporting children who have had burns injuries and were treated at Manchester Children’s Hospital.  Sue’s role is straight-forward for an experienced accountant, but it’s one that makes a huge difference to the organisation, as Sue explains, “It’s a very small charity with no staff, and which does one or two fundraising events a year. They had zero accountancy support, so I got involved and now do all of their bookkeeping and year end accounts preparation”.

Sue also works with Smart Works (Greater Manchester), a charity that provides high-quality interview clothes, styling advice and interview training to women in need. “For the first four years I was treasurer dealing with all finance but handed that role to another Chartered Accountant and now support her on the finance committee” says Sue.

As well as volunteering her time, Sue also has two charity clients ¬– Prevent Breast Cancer and Wythenshawe Community Initiative – who she works with regularly and who she charges a discounted rate.

The needs of each charity vary from organisation to organisation, but to keep things running smoothly, Sue has set up all the charities she works for with Xero software and set up systems to provide the necessary financial management information, including controlling restricted funds.

Sue’s support for the charities she works with isn’t limited to accountancy support and financial expertise, she’s more than willing to get involved in other activities. “A high point of my involvement with Prevent Breast Cancer was acting as a catwalk model at a charity fashion show.  It would have been challenging enough at the best of times, but I was modelling underwear in front of an audience of 800 people!” says Sue.

Sue’s contributions to the charities she works with are hugely appreciated, as a recent testimonial from the team at Prevent Breast Cancer demonstrates: “Sue is an integral part of the Prevent Breast Cancer Team… we don’t know what we’d do without her! Her financial expertise, communication skills and interest in the charity ensures that we are always improving and fine-tuning the business, especially our internal processes, which makes life easier for everyone. Most importantly of all she’s a genuinely lovely person who has endless patience, especially when explaining complex accountancy rules to a non-finance person!