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Moneymore fundraiser offers career advice on scaling new heights

Emma McCann, from Moneymore, is a community fundraiser for Cancer Focus Northern Ireland. After working in advertising, Emma scaled new heights when she decided to dedicate her life to a cause close to her heart. She also gives invaluable advice on how to achieve your career ambitions.


How did you get to where you are now?

Six years ago I decided I wanted to trek the Inka Trail in Peru and after lots of research, I discovered that the best way to do this was to go through a charity challenge.  As I had lost my mother to pancreatic cancer, this seemed the obvious way to go.  I contacted PCRF (Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund) and booked my place.  At that time, I was working in advertising and was used to setting targets, so ambitiously I decided to try and raise £10,000.  I used my contacts and skills to attain this and was delighted to raise over £13,000 for the charity.  Once I came home from my adventure, I decided to continue volunteering and joined my local Lions Club.  The following year, my love for the mountains led me to challenge myself to climb the highest mountain in each of the six counties of Northern Ireland in 24 hours to support the Ulster Cancer Foundation (the old name for Cancer Focus Northern Ireland) and I subsequently became a volunteer for them.  During this time, I was still working in sales when a job as a community fundraiser came up with Cancer Focus NI. I was delighted when I was successful in getting it and remain working with them today.


What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?

Personally speaking, there are so many rewarding aspects but if I were to choose one, it would have to be meeting lovely people in my community who are willing to dedicate their time to helping people struggling with a cancer diagnosis and knowing that I have assisted them achieve their fundraising goals. They also improve their own cancer awareness and, if they do one of our fitness challenges, often get fitter and healthier themselves, which is a perfect result for me! As a charity we encourage everyone to lead healthier lives to help lower their risk of cancer.


What qualities are needed to succeed in your work?

Being a good planner and having the ability to manage your time effectively, as this is a job that involves a lot of hours and evening and weekend duties.  

The ability to work within budgets and achieve set targets.  

Strong organisational skills and the ability to problem solve quickly.

A good communicator, both verbally and written. 

Good drive and enthusiasm to help you work well under pressure.

Being creative with ideas and have a flair for originality in creating fundraising challenges and ways to increase funds.

Patience and empathy, as you can sometimes be working with volunteers who have been affected by cancer, whether that is personally themselves or a family member.

A pleasant manner and present yourself well.

Commitment to your job and the cause of the charity.

A sound knowledge of marketing, PR and media and how they can be used to assist you promote your events.

Plenty of energy as you are on the go constantly.


What career ambitions did you have when you were young?

I would have liked to have followed in my mother’s footsteps and been a nurse.  However, circumstances didn’t allow that at that time.


What advice would you give to young people who are leaving school but are unsure about what to do next?

If for any reason you are unable to follow third level education, there are many other ways that you can achieve a rewarding career.  My own past experience brought me through a career in sales and advertising and as a result of volunteering I am now in a very rewarding career utilising all my skills attained in previous jobs. Speak to people who are already doing the job you want to do. Be passionate, confident and have self-belief. 

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