Sitting Down With… Michele Acton, CEO of Fight for Sight UK
Michele Acton |
Your background is in investment banking…
It’s funny, isn’t it! I spent 15 years in investment banking, mostly advising UK and African companies on raising money, and on mergers and acquisitions. I decided that I wanted to do something different, and something I was passionate about, so I made a major life change and went to run the charitable foundation at University College London Hospitals. I discovered how excited and passionate I was about the medical research we were funding, and I found the difference it could make to people’s lives utterly fascinating. My parents had always supported sight loss charities, so when I saw an advert for the role of CEO at Fight for Sight, it all just seemed to fall into place. I could see a huge unmet need in terms of actually being able to stop people losing their sight, yet the UK is perfectly placed to help. We have fantastic and highly committed clinicians and academic researchers, but it was absolutely clear to me that they needed more financial support to deliver outcomes for patients. I feel thrilled and privileged that I have been able to take on this role.
One of the biggest changes from investment banking was not so much moving to a charity, but moving to a much smaller organization. It was an enormous shock to go from a bank that employed thousands of people to working for an organization of three. Now, we employ 25 people and are funding research at 44 different universities and hospitals, having started by funding just two main institutions. Actually being able to develop Fight for Sight as a national charity and see the breadth and variety of research that is being funded, as well as the impact it can have, is tremendously exciting and rewarding.
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