Christine Alexander, CEO of TuVida, speaks frankly:

"I don't know many people who knew from an early age what they really wanted to do. I certainly didn't. I trained for hotel management; but then found that I didn't like that world. After several different jobs, I applied in 1995 for a job as a carer support worker with a new charity called 'Trent Crossroads – Caring for Carers. 

And that was it. I discovered a love for people with disabilities, especially the elderly. I also came to respect and admire deeply the families and friends who sacrificed so much to care for the people they loved.

When you really care about what you're doing, somehow the energy comes to do it well and to keep going even when things are hard. My colleagues valued my enthusiasm and as I grew more competent and knowledgeable, I moved into different roles in the organisation.

In 2000 I took over as CEO. Secretly, I was terrified, and not at all confident that things would work out for me. I felt inadequate; I was conscious that I had no training or qualifications to be a CEO. It has taken me nearly 25 years to realise that there is no training course that truly equips you to be a CEO, especially the CEO of a charity.

Management courses can help, as can a variety of job experiences. But I have found two things that are more important to success:

  • Lasting deep commitment to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in society
  • Making sure that you are surrounded with similarly committed and experienced staff, managers and trustees.

We hold different job titles in the organisation, but we are all striving for the same outcome. I'm not the primary source of motivation for the people who work at TuVida. They are here, working in this field, because they care. And they carry on caring despite being undervalued by the general public; not getting great rates of pay; and all the time having to work within strict regulations. Their motivation is already there, and my job is to support them, to value them and make sure that I do my part to bring about the changes that are necessary to 'upgrade' the status of this remarkable workforce that our country so depends upon.

Our leadership team and board of trustees have the same commitment to our cause. Just as important, though, is our acknowledgement that we are operating in a new and immensely challenging corporate world, and that we need to grow and develop our approach, along with our individual abilities, so that together we have the skills to do the job.

From when I took over as CEO and to the 2020 financial year, our income grew from £500k per annum to £13 million. Much of the growth in income has come from the development of new products and services. We have become well-known for thinking creatively about how to help local authorities and the NHS meet the rapidly growing needs of the nation's most vulnerable citizens."