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Rachel Harrison
Global Director of Corporate Services , International Non-Profit
Camberley, United Kingdom
Experienced finance professional with a strong strategic mindset

A finance professional with over 25 years of experience in IT management consulting, international finance, international development and social housing spanning the globe from the United States to the United Kingdom to Azerbaijan.
Send email Contact Rachel Harrison
Area of Expertise:
  • Administration, Management, Finance/Accounting, Procurement
  • Director, CEO, COP, President
Professional Experience:
Whilst at university, I was interested in exploring how foreign direct investment impacts developing economies, and I spent my senior year working on an honour’s thesis exploring this topic on the Brazilian economy. I learned that the lives of people in lesser developed economies could be improved through direct intervention by the developed world, particularly as the history of colonialism, resource exploitation and pollution were important contributors to their current situation.

Although I was fascinated by international development, I started my career in management consulting, thinking this would be a safe and comfortable career. Most of my work revolved around managing projects to develop IT systems that support business operations at our clients. However, I soon returned to graduate school to obtain an MBA in Finance and Multinational Management from Wharton Business School as I continued to have an underlying desire for a more impactful international career.

I finally achieved the international career I longed for by moving to the UK and working first in investment banking and then in private equity, using my finance skills to help drive business strategy and decisions. However, after over a decade of working in the commercial sector, I found these careers to be unsatisfying, still retaining that burning desire to make a lasting impact on peoples’ lives. In addition, I also wanted to make the world in a better place for my children now that I had a family of my own, so I left the corporate world and transitioned to the non-profit sector, starting first as treasurer for my local parish church.

When I moved overseas to Baku, Azerbaijan for my husband’s expatriate assignment, I worked with United Aid for Azerbaijan (UAFA), a UK registered charity which aims to aid long-term development in Azerbaijan with a focus on children, health and education. Having gained my CIMA qualification whilst living in Baku, I helped UAFA transition their accounts from excel to Sage 50 and implement robust financial policies and procedures. This allowed UAFA to better track its grant funding for projects and helped the finance function become more professional, providing assurance to donors. Watching how the UAFA team improved the lives of disabled children in Azerbaijan was truly inspiring for me.

Upon returning to the UK, I wanted to continue working in a sector that improves peoples’ lives and joined Wokingham Housing Limited, a registered provider of social housing owned by Wokingham Borough Council (WBC). As a start-up company, WBC wanted to see this innovative idea turn to profitability, and my role as Finance Director was to help get us there by setting up efficient finance systems to ensure timely financial records and working with the Managing Director to design profitable housing schemes, such as a senior independent living facility and a residence for young adults transitioning out of foster care. However, the most satisfying part of my role was attending open days at our developments and hearing how happy our tenants were with their new homes. Knowing that I helped provide a roof over someone’s head was a very gratifying part of my job.

Today, I am the Global Director of Corporate Services at the Centre for Public Impact (CPI), supporting our organisation as we reimagine government so that it works for everyone. During my tenure, I have helped CPI expand by establishing charitable entities in the US, UK and Australia and have set up a team in India as we explore setting up a charity there. I have created robust processes and systems to support effective operations, such as finance, IT, risk management and legal. My work mainly emphasises supporting the leadership team, staff, and board of directors to steward organisational change, ground their practices in CPI’s values and ensure the organisation’s financial viability.
I received my MBA from Wharton Business School in Finance and Multinational Management. My undergraduate degree was a BA with Honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Available for:
  • Job opportunities
  • Being headhunted – make me an offer

    Years of Experience:
    More than 20 years
    Highest Qualification:
    United Kingdom , United States
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