Student experience

We are very proud of our students and alumni. Below are stories from just a handful of alumni who are making a big difference in the philanthropy, nonprofit and social enterprise sector. You can watch a video of our student achievements hereIf you are an ACPNS alumnus we would love to hear from you. Showcasing the outstanding achievements of our alumni helps to inspire future students in finding their path in the sector. Please email acpns@qut.edu.au – and don’t be shy; no matter how big or small your story is we will be chuffed to hear from you!

Find out how YOU can change the world also. Study with us.


Leanne Butterworth

Founder of Lose Your MIND, Find Your HEART

Leanne is an ACPNS alumni, George Alexander Foundation Scholar, QUT Foundry Prize winner and member of the Nu Lambda Mu International Honor society . She is also founder of Lose Your Mind Empathy Training.

Listen to her podcast about how her studies at ACPNS have helped pave the way for her to transform worlds through empathy, understanding and kindness.

Lose Your Mind Empathy Training is a social enterprise that offers innovative experiential learning training packages to enhance the mental health culture of communities and organisations. Feeling heard and understood is a fundamental human need and research has shown that leaders and staff with high levels of empathy have greater staff mental health, improved business performance and better client / patient / student outcomes.

Leanne recognises the importance of experiential learning in the development of empathy and uses tools such as Virtual Reality simulations to engage participants personally and emotionally as well as providing practical tools for enhanced communication. She has translated this learning to an online empathy training course called Empathy First and a podcast called The Professional Empathy Podcast. You can find all of Leanne’s training options at www.empathyfirst.com.au

Listen to Leanne’s podcast


Kade Hamalainen
Intern at AskRIGHT

Thanks AskRIGHT for this great interview with ACPNS alumni, Kade who has recently joined the AskRIGHT team!

Read more

 


Bruce Nean
Childhood Cancer Support &
Digital for Good

What are you doing now?

I work for Childhood Cancer Support as the Digital Marketing and Communications Specialist. Childhood Cancer Support is a wonderful grassroots organisation supporting families from regional areas by providing long term accommodation while their children receive lifesaving cancer treatment in Brisbane. In 2018 I launched ‘Digital For Good’ to bring people together in the nonprofit sector and those with an interest in marketing to learn off each other and network.

Tell us about the sector…

Having specialised in digital marketing and fundraising for a number of years, there is a considerable need for digital transformation in nonprofits. Customers and donors expect a seamless experience and want to feel known and valued, otherwise they will shift their attention to charities that do. It’s not always the big mistakes that put off supporters, it’s the summation of micro-errors that make them feel like they’re not important. Digital tools from cloud-based CRMs, automated marketing tools and chatbots allow for more work to be done with less time and allow for innovative stewardship, personalisation and precise customer service. The challenge for smaller nonprofits will be to stay ahead of the game, find money to resource digital transformation and the skilled staff to bring about this change.

How have your studies at QUT helped you?

My studies at QUT have helped me to gain a broader understanding of the nonprofit sector and the issues nonprofits face. The assignments I have completed have allowed me to explore topics that relate to my current workplace and equipped me to have a voice to bring change.

How do you think graduates can give back to the Australian Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies?

I passionately believe in paying it forward and helping those that are coming through the ranks and encouraging people to think about working in the nonprofit space. Just by being an advocate for the ACPNS through word of mouth, attending events and encouraging those in your network to consider study is a great way to give back. You lose nothing by mentoring or encouraging someone, you only gain. The more we support each other in the nonprofit sector, the more we all benefit.

What’s your most quirky personality trait?

I’m really struggling with this question. Trying to think of something about me that isn’t quirky is a challenge!


Caitriona Fay
Acting General Manager at Perpetual

Listen to Cat’s podcast which includes great tips on entering the philanthropy and nonprofit sector.

 

 

What are you doing now?

I’m currently the Acting General Manager for Perpetual’s Community and Social Investment business. We work with clients who are investing resources on behalf of communities and with an aim of providing a community benefit. We look after philanthropists, non-profit organisations, aged care organisations and Native Title Trusts. It’s really interesting and diverse work where I get to work with people who are passionate about social investment, communities and having impact.

Tell us about the sector…

For philanthropists there’s a changing lens on impact. I spend a lot of time working with families and individuals who want their resources to have impact but understand that they’re operating within systems and environments where philanthropy is one very small piece of the bigger funding puzzle. Increasingly I’m meeting philanthropists who understand that they don’t necessarily need to fund the magic bullet that fixes a social ill. I’m seeing a growing sophistication from philanthropists who are embracing the funding of the unsexy stuff that governments and corporates wont or can’t support, with many of them happy to cover the costs of convening and collaboration, or investing in the infrastructure that enables non-profit organisations to thrive in a digital world. I’m really excited about what this shift might mean for the community sector. On the flip side of that, I’m also wary of that fact that the growing lens on impact means that some funders may inadvertently push non-profits for quick wins and band-aid fixes rather than enabling the kind of patience that leads to systemic or incremental change that is likely to have great long term benefits.  We try to keep the philanthropists we work with vigilant around that tension.

For the NFP sector, more broadly, the thing I’m seeing is the enormous impact of the digital world on our civil society. Firstly there’s the cost of operating effectively and ethically in a digital environment and there’s an important role for philanthropy within that space. Secondly, we have the hand of government reaching into NFPs through the data that they are collecting on their stakeholders and I’m increasingly concerned by that. Data of course has enormous promise but there’s peril there, too. We need to carefully consider how we protect those communities we’re serving through the protection of their data and on occasion that might mean pushing back on all kinds of funders who want access to data in exchange for the grants or gifts that they are providing. I feel like there’s a definite shift within communities around data and privacy. The NFPs who use, store, collect and protect data in ways that best reflect the values of the community sector will do well in the digital age and I fear for those organisations that don’t appropriately take that lens.

How have your studies at QUT helped you?

My studies at QUT have been vital in helping me understand the changing regulatory and legislative environment impacting on the community sector. My studies have provided me within an insight into different governance approaches, issues of ethics and management within a non-profit world, all of which I think about regularly. Importantly, the course has exposed me to a group of peers who are willing to debate, discuss and challenge each other and the benefits of that can’t really be overstated.  

How do you think graduates can give back to the Australian Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies?

I’m part of a relatively small Melbourne-based alumni group and it would be great to see that grow. I think staying connected to QUT through those networks is really important.

Which song best exemplifies your life and why?

“Dogs are The Best People” by The Fauve. It’s true.


Victoria Lister
George Alexander Foundation scholarship recipient, and Principal & Founder of Nonprofit Assist

Listen to Victoria’s podcast which includes great tips on entering the philanthropy and nonprofit sector.

 

 

What are you doing now?

I consult to and mentor small-to-medium enterprises and their people in the social sector. Most of my clients are community serving, human service organisations and while the majority are nonprofits, I also support for-profit firms with a social purpose. I do both paid and pro bono work with a focus on management, governance, strategy, marcoms and people issues. I’ve been operating as a consultant since 2010. The work I enjoy most is working with people, particularly when things have gone pear-shaped, and helping newcomers to the sector understand more about it. Landing on a board for the first time can be rather daunting!

Tell us about the sector…

Over time I’ve been able to see the more things change, the more they stay the same! Different trends emerge with different emphases, along with new technologies. Currently there’s a big focus on social entrepreneurship and innovation. These are interesting developments but behind the scenes the challenges remain the same – people problems and financial viability being the perennial problems. While the sector is becoming more visible and attracting more people, including younger people who see it as interesting career choice, at the end of the day behavioural issues still get in the way of things. No sector is immune these, it’s simply reflective of where we’re at overall. On the whole we’re not very good at group work – at knowing how to behave in a group – whether that group is a management committee or workplace team, our families, communities and the broader global community.

How have your studies at QUT helped you?

By the time I arrived at ACPNS in 2007 to do the Grad Cert, even though it wasn’t my first or even second career, I’d gathered a fair bit of experience in the sector – as a management committee member, employee and volunteer. I loved the course so much by the time I reached half-way I articulated into the Masters program.

What I learnt was invaluable: it gave me a big picture view of an environment I’d been immersed in but hadn’t fully understood, and a solid foundation in the theory behind the practice. I’d always wanted to consult but thought it would be something I’d do later on; once I completed the degree I was ready to get going. It helped that a couple of lecturers suggested I’d make a good consultant, which was very encouraging.

I’m back at QUT again now, this time undertaking a research degree in the services marketing space which is cementing a whole new skill set.

What impact has the George Alexander Foundation scholarship had on you?

The scholarship helped make my degree possible – it was extremely helpful to have fee support, particularly as I ended up doing the entire program on offer! That is, I started with the Graduate Certificate and halfway through that, made the decision to articulate into the Masters program as by then I’d experienced enough of what was on offer to know it was excellent. So the scholarship helped me with the Grad Cert component, which was fantastic. It’s one reason why I continue to support the work of ACPNS via the Alumni Chapter Committee – so as many students as possible get the same opportunity, whether it’s to focus on obtaining the Grad Cert or take it further.  

How do you think graduates can give back to the Australian Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies?

One of the best ways I’ve been able to give back is via the ACPNS Alumni Chapter Committee of which I’m currently a member. All the wonderful ‘add-ons’ I enjoyed as a student of ACPNS (scholarships, prizes, career development and so on) was the result of the hard work of the then Committee – and are now things I can play an active role in supporting.

Unique to ACPNS, when you come on board as a student you have the option to immediately activate your alumni status, which means you can join the Committee if you wish too and get involved well before you graduate. Not only does it support you and your peers, it’s an excellent way to get governance experience if you haven’t had any.

What are three things you can’t survive without?

My phone. My lip balm. My teddy bear!


Kylie Kingston
George Alexander Foundation scholarship recipient & PhD at QUT 

Listen to Kylie’s podcast which includes great tips on entering the philanthropy and nonprofit sector.

 

 

What are you doing now?

I have just completed a Master of Philosophy (Accountancy) at QUT. My research investigated accountability to beneficiaries within nonprofit organisations, with a focus on involving beneficiaries in evaluating their organisation, and if this can enable beneficiaries to have a greater voice and be more empowered. I’m now working on writing up journal articles and presenting the findings at conferences. I’ve been accepted into the PhD program at QUT for 2019 which will be an extension of this research and of the findings. This is great because my masters research actually grew out of an ACPNS evaluation unit which involved empowering beneficiaries, and the development of a research plan. So I’ve been able to build upon the work I did in that ACPNS unit, to progress through a masters and now into a PhD. I’m interested in improving social justice and equality of marginalised social groups, so being able to focus on trying to do this through research works well.

Tell us about the sector…

Prior to becoming a full-time research student in 2017, I spent about 20 years working in nonprofit educational settings; schools, preschools, and early childhood centres. I also volunteer for a variety of very small nonprofit organisations, and do a lot of fundraising and bookkeeping. From that experience, I think the small, volunteer run nonprofit organisations struggle to keep up with legislative changes and requirements. I see unqualified executives having difficulty knowing how to manage these small services (e.g. sporting clubs or preschools run by parent committees), especially if there are no paid staff to help them understand how to be a treasurer, president, secretary, or general committee member. I don’t think the larger nonprofits face those same issues, especially when they have a CEO and other staff and resources to support them, or they have experienced and qualified executives. It’s hard to know how to solve that problem. Essentially that’s why I did the master of business through the ACPNS, to gain better skills to be able to support these small organisations.

The other issue that these small nonprofits face is generating income and fundraising (think sausage sizzles!), and keeping financially afloat. These are constant issues for many organisations that are providing such important services within the community. I think if sector leaders can be more aware of the struggles of the very small organisations perhaps more shared free resources can be developed to help them.

How have your studies at QUT helped you?

My studies at QUT have helped me to be able to help the nonprofit sector in ways that I see are meaningful. This includes being able to share what I’ve learnt, particularly in relation to governance, management, and fundraising, through volunteering within these small nonprofit organisations.  On a broader level, now that I have moved into research within the sector, I hope to be able to have more impact through the research that I’m involved in. I hope to be able to develop ways that nonprofits can improve their accountability towards beneficiaries, and contribute to knowledge within this area. Beneficiaries can be a very disempowered stakeholder group, so developing ways to empower them through their participation in the organisation is valuable, I think.

How do you think graduates can give back to the Australian Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies?

My experience of the ACPNS is that it is a very generous centre in many ways, from its grants and scholarship opportunities, to the generosity of the staff and lecturers with their time and knowledge. Whilst teaching about philanthropy, the ACPNS also embeds itself within a philanthropic culture. I think ACPNS alumni become part of that spirit and want to give back, whether that be through donations of time or money or knowledge (or all three), both within the ACPNS and also within the sector in general. There are a lot of ways ACPNS alumni can give back, but I think giving the opportunity to study at the ACPNS to other people who might not be able to afford it, is a wonderful thing to do. The new Myles McGregor-Lowndes scholarship is a good starting place!

What impact has the George Alexander Foundation scholarship had on you?

In the start of my Master of Business in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies with the ACPNS, I was fortunate to have received a scholarship from the George Alexander Foundation (GAF). Receiving the scholarship was instrumental in changing the way I thought about my studies and myself; and subsequently changing the direction of my life. At the time I was trying to engage with the coursework, but also had to work to support myself. At one point I had to withdraw from a coursework unit because I needed to gain additional part-time work, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to complete the degree. But when I received the scholarship I was able to reduce my work load and focus much more on my studies. So the GAF scholarship supported me financially, but what I wasn’t expecting, was that it also supported me psychologically through motivating me to achieve the best I could.  People believed in me, to give me this scholarship, and now I needed to not let them down! After that confidence boost, I went on to receive an overall grade point average of 6.625 for the degree, the Dean’s Award for Excellence, and the McCullough Robertson Prize for my year. I put all my achievements down to receiving the GAF scholarship (and a bit of hard work!). Of course, my subsequent achievements in completing a Masters of Philosophy and now undertaking a PhD all link back to my ACPNS coursework and my GAF scholarship. So the impact GAF scholarships make on students is huge.

If you could compete at the Olympics, what event would you excel in and why?

I would be terrible at every event at the Olympics, so I would need to invent a new category. Maybe this could involve boring people by talking about all the funny things my dog did that day. I would win that event for sure.


Alan Hough
Nonprofit Organisation Management

What are you doing now?

I have just launched by own consulting business, Governance & Strategy, assisting not-for-profit and pubic sector organisations with issues around governance and strategy – obviously – but also risk management, self-organising teams, and quality and safeguarding in services to people with disability. Although I now live in Canberra, I work nationally.

Tell us about the sector…

I have been working with disability service providers for the past six years or so. The National Disability Insurance Scheme is having a huge impact on people with disability, on carers and on providers. Some of these impacts are beneficial and some are not good at all. I have also been looking at the impact of the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Scheme on providers. While there is no doubt that the sector as a whole needs to improve its performance in quality and safeguarding, there is a huge mismatch between the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Commission’s expectations and how the National Disability Insurance Agency works. I am so concerned about it that I have written a paper for a forthcoming academic conference with the provocative title: ‘All care, no responsibility? Government treatment of providers under the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the NDIS Quality and Safeguarding Scheme’.

Safeguarding is now a big issue across the human services that needs concentrated effort from boards and management. Here in Australia, we have had the Royal Commission into child sex abuse, we have had the Royal Commission established on aged care and – if there is a change of government – we will have a third Royal Commission on the abuse and neglect of people with disability. Overseas, there have been the scandals in some of the international aid organisations. There can be no assumption that not-for-profit organisations are good at quality and safeguarding even if they don’t have the sometimes corrupting motive of profit-driven behaviour.

How have your studies at QUT helped you?

I completed both a Graduate Certificate and then a doctorate with the Centre. The biggest takeaway from my studies is that we should avoid being caught up in management fads and – where the evidence exists – learn from the research evidence about what works and what doesn’t and in what circumstances. I used to think about organisations and management as having strictly logical processes and behaviours. As a result of my studies, I now understand that organisations don’t always work logically, or rather work by alternative logics. Of course, that is not to say that we should abandon rationality!

How do you think graduates can give back to the Australian Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies?

There are any number of ways that students can give back to the Centre. Keeping networked with the Centre and with former and current students is good for us and good for the Centre. Participating in Centre-sponsored research is a great contribution. I also have chosen to sponsor one of the student prizes, and I also support QUT’s annual appeal for ACPNS and its students.

What book have you read more times than any other, and why?

Anything by Chilean-US author Isabelle Allende. Her writing is awesome.


Rebecca Blackmore
Commercial Manager at Foodbank Queensland

What are you doing now?

With only two subjects left in my Masters, I’ve recently joined Foodbank Queensland as their Commercial Manager.

Foodbank is Australia’s largest food relief organisation, accounting for over 70% of food rescued in Australia.  It sources donated food from farmers, processors, manufacturers, markets and retailers, most of which would otherwise go to landfill as waste. Our Morningside warehouse redistributes over 12 million kilos of food to 260 community-based welfare agencies that feed over 188,000 disadvantaged Queenslanders each month. This is the equivalent of nearly 22 million meals with an estimated retail value of more than $80m.

The organisation’s mission is to deliver the most food, to the most Queenslanders in need, in the most efficient and effective ways. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be joining the organisation as it endeavours to implement a number of operational changes in order to maximise its impact.

Tell us about the sector…

Being new to the sector I still have a lot to learn. However it is abundantly clear there is increasing pressure on nonprofits to squeeze every last ounce out of their resources to continuously increase their impact and meet ever-growing need. Benefactor and government agency expectations around impact transparency are rapidly increasing and organisations must very quickly become more commercially savvy or risk not being able to secure the funding they need to continue operations. Passion alone is no longer enough – organisations must prove they are maximising each dollar donated. Therefore, an investment in skilled resource to increase efficiencies must become a priority moving forward. Unfortunately an increase in employee expenses is often seen by donors as a measure of inefficiency, rather than a valuable, long-term investment, so it is equally important this perception be broken down to reduce the prevalence of the starvation cycle within the sector.

How have your studies at QUT helped you?

Studying my Master of Business (Philanthropy & Nonprofit Studies) has been a truly wonderful experience. I chose to begin my studies with ACPNS last year when after 13 years working as a CPA in the private sector, I decided my passion lay in giving back to the community and my skillset could be more effectively used in the nonprofit sector. The ACPNS family was amazingly supportive and the course provided me with an extremely well rounded view of the sector, including both the rewards and the challenges it faces.  My appointment into such a fulfilling role with Foodbank Queensland before even finishing my studies is evidence in itself of the invaluable grounding and opportunities ACPNS can provide.

How do you think graduates can give back to the Australian Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies?

Absolutely key to giving back to ACPNS as an alumni member is remaining engaged in its activities, both via social media and attending events. The open sharing of knowledge between each other is invaluable not only to future students, but all of us within the sector.

What’s something from your childhood you naively wished would come true but didn’t?

I once left Santa a very long and heart-felt note (along with his beer and cookies) asking if in place of all my presents that year I could please look after one of his reindeer until the following Christmas. Seriously, that would have been AMAZING.


Ian Coombe
Ambassador for Kidsafe Queensland, bestselling author & international speaker

What are you doing now?

As I prepare to enter the fourth 20-year block in my life, I’ve decided to take on a different dimension. The first block was at school learning, the second in the Army, the third in enterprises and the fourth is sharing. I will always continue my work in the third sector and am a proud Ambassador of Kidsafe Queensland.

Having led teams in the military and on both sides of the boardroom table in all three sectors, I have experienced and learnt much from my successes and failures. Some of them are staggeringly unique – especially in the area of decision-making.

My 5 step formula for decision making that I developed for the military, known as WIKID POWER, was deemed so effective at winning that they wanted it classified above top secret. My driving passion is showing others how to use it in the 35,000 decisions we make every day. I want my hindsight to be their foresight by making their decisions less painful and more rewarding.

Tell us about the sector…

I feel that much of the third sector is challenged keeping up with the changes we’ve seen in recent years. Technological competence and efficiency is an expectation of all operations that many entities struggle to deploy. Social media means we need to connect and appeal in different and more time constrained ways. Governments no longer hand out money to charities, but expect to only give seed funds that result in self-sustaining operations they no longer need to support. People with needs go first to Google before they talk to people. The ACNC is encouraging NFP to merge for sustainability but many are still structured around a Federation model with more directors than staff – neither eager to shed positions to gain efficiencies. I believe that in our risk averse sector, those who take risks will be the ones who survive.

How have your studies at QUT helped you?

The studies and research was certainly helpful in that my eyes were opened in fields that were previously unknown to me. Yet it is the people you meet through ACPNS that have provided some of the most precious moments and value.

How do you think graduates can give back to the Australian Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies?

ACPNS Alumni can give back in many ways. But one of the easiest and most beneficial is to be engaged with the ACPNS Alumni community on social media, at events and in connecting with one another. This not only benefits others, but there have been many examples where I, and my organisation have benefited. As an example, when I was CEO of Playgroup Queensland, we were used as a fundraising case study. The investment of my time was returned in bucket-loads by a swag of plans with valuable ideas we pursued.

What’s something you hope will still be the same 100 years from now?

People finding new ways to share new technologies to help others.


Peter Treseder
CEO of Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Foundation

Listen to Peter’s podcast which includes great tips on entering the philanthropy and nonprofit sector.

 

 

What are you doing now?

I’m towards the end of my career as the CEO of the RBWH Foundation. I’ve been in that role for about 10 years and I’ll be pulling the plug towards the end of the year. But we’ve had phenomenal growth through that period and great successes. That’s based on massive revenue growth and keeping our expenses under control. 

My plans for retirement are to write some novels and to become the caretaker of a large property on the Hastings River. It’s a property we’re hoping to turn into a parkland.

Tell us about the sector…

Not-for-profit is the wrong terminology when talking about our organisations because we need to run our organisations as for-profit businesses – and make no apologies. When the board hired me, I told them that a dollar-in, dollar-out mentality is the fastest way to go broke. So instead, we take some dollar-in and save it. Then we give some of it away and run our business. Over a number of years, we build the equity in the financial stability of the foundation. That’s what I’ve learnt from my banking background and seeing thousands of businesses go broke. Yet, there are still boards that think making a profit and setting up equity in a foundation’s balance sheet is the wrong thing to do. It’s absolutely the right thing to do. If you look at the strong foundations around the nation, they’ve all got substantial balance sheets and forward-looking boards.

It’s also important to follow your passion. I can’t fundraise for any organisation because I’m not emotionally connected with every organisation. I’ve always been emotionally connected and passionate about health. So it’s easy for me to come in and demonstrate that passion in the workplace. If I’m passionate about it, the people that I’m asking for money will pick up on that passion. If I’m not passionate about my cause, they’re not going to care about it either. 

How have your studies at QUT helped you?

I’ve helped raise around 21 billion dollars throughout my career. Everything I’ve been able to do has been because of my studies at the Centre.

How do you think graduates can give back to the Australian Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies?

It’s important to maintain a contact back to the Centre because things are always changing. We can also give back to the Centre, by passing our knowledge onto future students.

Do you have any secret talents?

I write poetry. I have a great fascination with the world. The way I make sense of it is to write poems. My poems are like a diary of ideas. Trying to express complex issues in simple metaphorical language is an interesting exercise for me.


Dina Jak
Coordinator of Coworking Space (Bordeaux, France)

What are you doing now?

I am now coordinating and taking care of the financial management of a Co-working space in Bordeaux, France. The co-working space is about bringing together like-minded start-ups and entrepreneurs across a variety of sectors and industries. The thing that brings the coworkers together is their entrepreneurial spirit and their common values of autonomy, inclusiveness, sharing and collaboration.

Tell us about the sector…

The skills needed by sector leaders I would say are strong entrepreneurial and commercial skills to lead community organisations sustainably.

How have your studies at QUT helped you?

My Masters of Business, majoring in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, helped me to establish a strong foundation of the core business principles that are required to work in the social sector. They have helped me to have a level of credibility for working in the sector.

How do you think graduates can give back to the Australian Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies?

Graduates can give back to ACPNS by being part of the alumni community, sharing about the ACPNS studies with other potential students who are thinking of joining and attending ACPNS events to help advocate about the studies to other students.

If you could have named yourself at birth, what name would you have given yourself?

I really like the name Axelle or Alexia. Not sure why, they are just names that resonate with me.


Michael McDade
Director of Donors Program at The Mater Foundation

What are you doing now?

After 3 years as the Qld General Manager of United Way Australia, in 2014 I joined the Mater Foundation as their Strategic Planning Manager and  then 18 months ago moved into the Director of Donor Programs role overseeing Major Gifts and Trusts and Foundations operations. So for the past 7 years I have been focused on fundraising, which is very different to the previous 15 years when I worked for disability service providers. My study at ACPNS has enabled this transition, and to be honest I couldn’t have predicted that this is where I would now be. It’s a great job with a great organisation that is deeply committed to identifying and meeting most pressing needs in our community.

Tell us about the sector…

The non-profit sector is undergoing huge change in the same way that the commercial sector is too. In particular the application of new digital technologies is going to upend many of the old models of community service and I’d argue that institutions that can’t overcome the inertia of their historical systems are seriously at risk; they’ll be left behind by smaller, agile entities that are less risk averse. I really like the idea of local micro-businesses, people up the road being able to service the needs of local people with the supporting technologies being low cost, on-hand and up to date.

So in terms of what sector leadership will look like, I think it will emerge from those who are successful early adopters, innovators, people who can quickly operationalise new ways of working – from both the consumer and provider perspectives. They’ll be very future focused and they’ll be able to lead organisations through rapid change or, from a consumer’s perspective, force change. It’s going to be tough on the Government sector because they’ll be judged on their ability to process policy – it’ll be policy being shaped by change rather than vice versa.

How have your studies at QUT helped you?

My wife and I made a decision about 15 years ago to invest in our family’s education, rather than capital assets, to ensure future cash flow as we aged  i.e. instead of, say, an investment property. So my wife completed a PHD and I did the MB Philanthropy and Nonprofit studies. Financially this was a great decision because we are both in well-reimbursed roles, but more importantly the study added a richness to our lives that is not about money. It has enabled both of us to pursue new careers in our 50’s and this has been such a rewarding challenge. Then of course there is the actual content and learning that higher education provides. I now apply a rigour to my work that I wasn’t doing prior to my study and this is from being aware of, and applying, different principles and perspectives. Ethical frameworks is an area that I would refer to often when considering problems and practices.

Star Wars or Star Trek? Pineapple on pizza?

Star nothing, sorry. And there’s no place for pineapple on a pizza. None.


Alan LeMay
General Manager at The Smith Family

What are you doing now?

I’m enjoying the role of General Manager QLD for The Smith Family. It’s a leadership role and I thoroughly enjoy leading this very capable and dynamic team. It’s such a great cause supporting disadvantaged children to succeed at school; it genuinely breaks the cycle of poverty these kids find themselves in. It’s very rewarding to see the positive impact on lives and families.

Tell us about the sector…

Two things immediately spring to mind. Firstly, I’ve observed an increasing emphasis on outcomes. Community service organisations seem to be increasingly required to demonstrate their outcomes. I don’t take exception to this, however this required a shift in mindset for me to really appreciate what it means and I think it takes an investment of resources to plan for genuine outcomes and measure the success of our programs against those outcomes. It appears to me that to remain viable in the competitive fundraising environment of today’s NFP sector, organisations will need to make this mind shift and invest in evaluation.

Secondly, as a leader I think the expectations of me have evolved. There seems to be an increasing emphasis on team engagement and collaboration. Engagement and collaboration have always been stated values within the NFP sector, but giving lip service to these values is simply not tolerated by the current workforce. The days of a team serving the vision of a leader who is compelled to change the world – this is how many of our charities were pioneered – is no longer the standard framework. Vision is now honed collaboratively, the result of extensive stakeholder engagement. I hear stories, too many stories, of leaders who seem stuck in old-fashioned hierarchal relationships with their teams, driving the organisation with authority and people getting disillusioned and even hurt by a leadership style that I consider to be just simply out-dated.

How have your studies at QUT helped you?

Studying at QUT has been the best career decision I have made. I have forged my NFP career from the ground up like so many other NFP leaders. I was a youth worker collecting relevant vocational education Diplomas but as I moved through the ranks into leadership roles, it became evident that my broader business and leadership skills were not current. I had been with the one charity for almost 16 years and achieved an Executive Director role, but there was significant knowledge and skill deficiencies that would particularly affect my capacity to move out of that role into other roles in the NFP sector. I know that had I not completed the Masters in Business Degree from ACPNS, I would have not been considered for the role I am in, and I would not be able to do the job. As I said, the best career decision I have made.

How do you think graduates can give back to the Australian Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies?

As an Alumni I have enjoyed being part of the QUT student mentoring program and I think this is a great opportunity to give back to ACPNS. I have also enjoyed volunteering as a guest lecturer sharing case studies from my experience, again another great way to give back. I would have to say though, that supporting the Centre and engaging with the Alumni has been of tremendous value to me. The opportunity to network with other leaders even in a mentoring capacity has broadened my understanding of the sector and my responsibilities as a leader, it’s a sharpening of the tools kind of experience.

If you could give one piece of advice to yourself as a teenager, what would it be?

I used to boast about my ability to plan ahead, to hone a vision and predict how things might go well into the future. I used to say “I live over the horizon”. I would advise that over-eager young person today to live more in the present. Take time to appreciate the wonder of what is going on in the here and now. Take the opportunity to respond to the immediate circumstances people are facing and see the opportunity to do good today, this hour, this minute, and take your gaze off the horizon more often. 



Daniel Lalor
Fundraising and Events Manager at MS Queensland

Listen to Daniel’s podcast which includes great tips on entering the philanthropy and nonprofit sector

 

 

What are you doing now?

I’m the Fundraising and Events Manager at MS Queensland. I’ve been there for about 4 years.

Tell us about the sector…

Technology is driving a lot of change in the industry. I’m excited to see how new ways to connect with donors will be used as tools like virtual or augmented reality become more mainstream. Digital tools are replacing the ‘old school’ methods of collections. We’re catching up to the current culture of spending, with tap payment systems replacing buckets for street collections and more money being raised online generally. A lot of charities still have to master the very basics of mobile websites and streamlining online donation processes first though, before adopting some of these new exciting tools.

We need young, smart, passionate people to continue to enter the sector. We need to be able to attract them initially and also retain them as they progress in their careers. Current industry leaders need to be thinking about what they can offer this wave of graduates, if remuneration can’t compete with the for-profit sector.

Somewhat on the topic of remuneration, I really believe the sector needs to be more proactive in addressing the public and media’s propagation of ‘the cost of fundraising’ as a measure of a charities effectiveness. Everyone wants to make a difference when they make a donation. But, currently most people are asking ‘how much of my money goes to the cause vs admin’ as a way to determine where to give their support. For a whole range of reasons it’s a very flawed way of comparing and measuring a charities performance and it’s shackling the industry from making the change it’s capable of. For those interested, just watch Dan Pallotta’s TED talk or pick up his book ‘uncharitable’ which gives a pretty thorough summary of the issue.

How have your studies at QUT helped you?

I completed the Grad Cert at ACPNS in my first year as a fundraiser. It gave me a great foundation and understanding of the sector and as The Centre is so well regarded in the industry, it’s helped me stand out from other job candidates as I’ve progressed in my career. I’ve also formed some great friendships and connections not only with those I completed my studies with, but with students who have come though The Centre after me.

How do you think graduates can give back to the Australian Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies?

I believe we need to be thinking about how to give back to the sector generally. What can we be doing to mentor younger fundraisers and how can we progress the sector as a whole? The ACPNS will naturally benefit along the way as a result of sector wide improvement.

What did you want to be when you were a child and why?

I can remember as a 10 year old wanting to be a landscape architect. I liked the idea of creating cool outdoor spaces. Not sure if there was a more daring dream (astronaut?) that existed as an even younger boy. Let’s hope so…



Genevieve Northey
Donations Programme Manager at The Tindall Foundation

What are you doing now?

I am currently over halfway through my ACPNS postgraduate Certificate in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies. It’s been an exciting year for me, so this has been a great opportunity to reflect on the last 12 months.

I have been working in the philanthropic sector in New Zealand for just over six years, currently as the Donations Programme Manager at The Tindall Foundation. The Tindall Foundation is a family philanthropic foundation, based in Auckland, New Zealand. Our support contributes to building a stronger, sustainable New Zealand so that families, communities and our environment can thrive now and in the future.

The Tindall Foundation predominately supports organisations delivering programmes that support children, young people and their families. We also have what could be described as a “green tinge,” as our support for environmental programmes has been slowly increasing over the years –with approx. 18% of the total funds contributing towards Environmental projects and programmes in the last financial year.

Growing up, my mum and dad frequently took my brothers and I to national parks and for trips into the great outdoors, which I believe sparked a keen interest for ecology and the environment. I am fortunate to manage some of the Foundation’s key environmental relationships, one of these being Reconnecting Northland, a large landscape environmental restoration programme. 

It is a privilege to work in a sector where there is a close match between my own values and those of the organisation I work for. It makes coming to work every day pretty awesome.

I also got married in March 2017, so it’s been a very eventful 12 months while completing my first year of post graduate studies at QUT.

Tell us about the sector…

From a New Zealand perspective, housing is a critical issue in our largest city, Auckland, and this is slowing filtering into other centres across the country. Homelessness, overcrowding, under supply and poor quality houses are issues at the heart of this.

We are in election year in New Zealand right now, so there are a multitude of promises and policies flying around at present. I am hopeful that some of these promises will result in solutions on the ground for those that the housing crisis is affecting the most. 

In the environmental sector, it is hard to not see Climate Change as our biggest threat. In November 2016, I was fortunate to be a member of a youth delegation to the UN Climate Change Conference which was held in Marrakesh, Morocco. This was a transformational experience. I recognise that it will take a huge effort – from grassroots community organisations to government, but everyone has a part to play. 

In terms of philanthropy, I’m hearing the term “Impact Investing” coming up frequently in conversations, so I believe there is some exciting work to occur in this space. We also need to be open and innovative about how we engage with those we are trying to assist. Too often we “talk about them, without them” so I will be actively trying to implement this in my work going forward.

How have your studies at QUT helped you?

Giving my brain a good stretch is how I would describe my studies at QUT over the last year. The reflection, analysis and thought that I’ve been able to put into the sector I love working in has been a truly fantastic opportunity. Not only have learned new skills, but it has also reinforced some of the on-the-job learning that I have received over the years, which has both personally and professional given me a big boost in confidence. This real world, practical application is one of the strengths of what ACPNS offers. The other strength is the people to work to deliver the programme – both academic and administration – who are incredibly helpful and welcoming, which is impressive considering that most of the interactions have been online.

Even with the slightly stressful times of juggling university learning while working full-time, I have thoroughly enjoyed my studies so far. One unexpected positive outcome has been the friends I have made in my fellow classmates. I assumed this was going to be difficult, considering I was studying online, but those I met in Brisbane when I visited in July 2016 and some who I met during the group assignment have stayed in touch. This has been very beneficial for peer support over the last 12 months. I hope to visit again for the next intensive weekend.

How do you think graduates can give back to the Australian Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies?

Since most students at ACPNS will have some experience working in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector, hearing other people’s work journeys is always interesting. You can learn a lot from listening to the path that someone has taken to get to where they are now. So, having those connections and networks through alumni would be beneficial and occurs informally at ACPNS events. Giving of time is a form of generosity that we all would be familiar with.  Another form is the gifting of funds, and the Alumni Chapter already does this through travel grants and bursaries to students, which is incredibly generous. I have been a fortunate recipient, so I hope to be able to pay this forward in the future.

If you were given a million dollars, how would you spend it?

I would gift a large portion to the emergency housing trust I work with here in Auckland so it would set them up with a reasonable endowment. This would assist them to get on with their exceptional work, while taking away some of the worry of losing government contracts. I’d take all the staff and their families on an epic holiday as they work so hard. And then I’d give the rest to my mum.



Gita Gopalan
Partner & Director at Hampton Kibel Research (HKR)

What are you doing now?

I run my own Executive Search Research and Talent Mapping business for corporate clients and executive search firms and am based in Sydney, NSW. I established Hampton Kibel Research (www.hkr.com.au) in 2001, after working for several Global Executive Search firms where I was responsible for their Research Divisions. With research alliances in Australia, Asia, UK/Europe and North America, HKR provides talent mapping, candidate list development/name identification and candidate screening services to both multi-national corporations and to third party retained executive search firms. We cover senior and C-Suite roles across a broad range of industries and functional areas globally.

Although my career has primarily supported the for-profit sector, my team and I have worked with not-for-profit companies recruiting a smaller number of roles in the past.

Tell us about the sector…

The Executive Search landscape has changed over the years and more so with the global financial crisis. It has seen a number of corporates now hiring recruiters to move in-house with a view of building in-house executive search teams. Another change we have seen is the better utilisation of research resources like HKR to build and map talent for senior roles by Heads of Talent or Heads of HR within the global, local corporates including mid-tier companies who may have limited HR resources.

Having been in the Executive Search Research business for close to 30 years, it’s a cyclical business and each peak and trough creates new opportunities. This was very evident in the “Black Monday” Stockmarket crash in 1987, the 1997 Asian Crisis and 2008 Global Financial crises. While it was a difficult time for a number of sectors, especially those recruiting in the Financial Services sector, surviving in these tough times meant being very strategic on Recruitment needs and the bottomline. It also created greater interest in outsourced Executive Search Research firms and other talent mapping groups to help with the hiring of senior roles across most sectors.

Innovative technology has also changed the recruitment landscape. The impact of social media with the growth of Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter now provide another platform, for in-house recruiters to identify and reach out to prospective talent. Linkedin which is a business and employment-oriented social networking service operates via websites and mobile apps enables one to contact, engage, and hire 24/7.

There has also been a rise in the use of Applicant Tracking Systems internally by major corporations and smaller to medium sized businesses. It helps Hiring Managers with metrics and data to help the hiring process, while streamlining the recruitment process within companies.

To stay innovative, we need to keep abreast of technologies that can help the research and hiring process across the board. Research and recruiting today is vastly different to the pre-internet era.

How have your studies at QUT helped you?

As already mentioned, while I have primarily worked in the for-profit sector, I personally support a small number of NFPs, especially Room to Read, which promotes the education of young, disadvantaged girls in developing countries.

I have always believed education opens our soul to the world and by educating disadvantaged girls in developing countries, will over time empower these women through enhanced economic development, education for the next generation and healthier families.

I was keen to learn more about how NFP’s are run and what their major drivers for success are. I started investigating courses and learned of the ACPNS program at QUT with its Graduate Certificate. The program offered a unique combination of NFP and Business subjects and provided a wonderful primer to a business oriented individual like myself.

The program provided valuable insight on NFP Boards and Governance, Corporate Law, Management, Ethics, Social Enterprise, Accounting and Tax, Fundraising techniques and principles. Having done an Economics degree previously, the course helped overlay the Business and Accounting side with what sustains the profitability of a NFP. Understanding how to deal with ethical dilemmas, the impact and cause of reduced donations and the importance of an effective Board was also crucial to the success of an NFP.

This course took me outside my comfort zone and I felt that I was learning a “new language” and mastered it reasonably well. It broadened my perspectives and allowed me to see things differently coming from the for-profit sector. Each subject and assessments challenged my thinking, my creativity and at the end of the course, I felt that I had a better understanding of the not-for-profit and for-profit sectors. It also made me a better researcher, as a lot of what I do is researching and building information pipelines for my clients. With the knowledge gained, I do hope in the next couple of years to focus on getting on a number of smaller NFP Boards and advising on HR matters. Apart from the curriculum, the class was very diverse and we were supported by a great team of lecturers. 

How do you think graduates can give back to the Australian Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies?

·        Mentoring students and sharing one’s experience whether from the not-for-profit or for-profit sector

·        Participating in alumni events that are run by the ACPNS

·        Help fund a student scholarship

·        Bequests in your will

·        Support the ACPNS in fundraising events

What’s a secret skill you have that not many people know about?

I’m a mean hand at crocheting, although it has been ages since I’ve done anything wearable.

 



Eduardo Camardelli
Finance Specialist at The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Listen to Eduardo’s podcast which includes great tips on entering the philanthropy and nonprofit sector

 

 

What are you doing now?

I am working for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Global Fund invests funds from donor countries and private institutions in more than 140 countries all over the world, with a portfolio turnover of about 10-12 billion dollars every 3 years on average. I am based in Geneva (Switzerland) with my wife and 2 young sons. I am a Finance Specialist within one of the High Impact departments (High Impact Africa II), comprised of 7 African nations. I am working with sub-Saharan African countries that are implementing public health programs to tackle the three diseases, using donor funds. We work closely with United Nations agencies and Programs, Governments, Embassies, International NGOs, Local NGOs, Foundations, Universities and various other stakeholders involved in the Public Health space. In my role, I travel 3-4 times per year to each of the 2-3 African nations I support in particular, where we conduct grant implementation and grant-making missions, audits, trainings, policy development, high level political meetings, donor-coordination forums and more.

Tell us about the sector…

I believe the sector is rapidly changing all over the world. The big donor countries are all struggling to commit to the same pledges they used to commit to in the past. Terrorism and other violent movements make access to humanitarian work more difficult in many regions of the globe. Politics are volatile now (take the US and the latest presidential controversies, the UK and Brexit, the recent shifts in the Australian Prime Minister’s seat). These are all influencing where everyday citizens’ hard-earned taxpayer money goes and the impact to countries and populations.

I think what is needed in the not-for-profit space is the concept of investing for maximum impact, using innovative approaches and, more importantly, developing the capacity of the recipients in a way that they can be sustainable in the near future, where the scenario of scarcity and unpredictability of funds is very likely.

I think that sector leaders need to be innovative, transparent, possess strong leadership skills and be more responsive to potential world issues and emergencies in advance. Long gone are the days where just the willingness to be a philanthropist was enough. In recent times, and in the near future, leaders need to adapt and respond appropriately and fast.

How have your studies at QUT helped you?

My studies at QUT helped me immensely to complement my business skill set. I am a CPA and I think the non-profit studies were very practical and incredibly important in today’s dynamic business world. Surely, you go through the theory but the focus on the practical aspects of each discipline, as well as hands on advice and guidance from the expert lecturers, were invaluable in shaping up my skill set and are helping me to perform at my best each day at work. The studies also confirmed what I suspected, that this field was my passion and I should pursue it for the rest of my career. The studies also got me thinking about a Doctorate sometime in the future, perhaps in another related field.

How do you think graduates can give back to the Australian Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies?

I think there are a few ways that graduates can give back to the ACPNS:

·         Getting involved in the alumni events, campaigns and fundraisers

·         Participating in classes and study sessions with guest lecturers or guest speakers

·         Share their experiences in the media

·         Become a mentor to current students

·         Assist in securing internships and work experience programs

·         Participate in committees where specific skills are needed (governance, ethics, board, finance, etc.)

If you could only have one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

I thought this would be the easiest questions but it turns out this is actually the hardest!

The meal I would have is a delicious BBQ. This is because it actually relates to the 2 places I hold dearly in my heart, Brazil and Australia. I was born and raised in the southern part of Brazil where BBQs are such a big part of the culture. In Australia, it is also an iconic activity and I miss having barbecues with mates. It is about not only the food but also being around family and friends. However, it has to be cooked in charcoal and on skewers, slowly, so that it preserves the flavours and the meat becomes juicier as it cooks.

 



Earle Johnston
Development Manager at the Salvation Army

What are you doing now?

I’m a professional fundraiser!  Next month I’ll be celebrating five years with The Salvation Army Australia Eastern Territory in the role of Development Manager, Queensland, Major Gifts and have the privilege of looking after many of our major donors from Brisbane through to Rockhampton.

Tell us about the sector…

Interestingly, my own organisation is working through the process of merging to become one single Australian entity after being two separate organisations since 1920.  This ‘trend’, if you will, is now not uncommon with many charities in Australia merging and centralising rather than maintaining separate independent state or geographical presences.  For the sector, this seems a commonsense approach with funding bodies and donors supporting a model that is looking to reduce replicated overhead costs and increase operating efficiencies in ensuring that the many dollars that are being raised are having maximum impact in achieving the organisation’s mission.  The reality for our sector is that we are expected to do so much more with the funds we receive whereas the need continues to grow. As more organisations grow larger and operate nationally, I believe having the right people with a diverse range of management skills combined with adequate sector knowledge is crucial – and it does concern me whether there are enough good people to fill these roles at this point in time. I think there is great value in having sector leaders with a blend of corporate expertise, informed academic understanding and a genuine desire to be part of an organisation that actually does make a difference in the world.  

How have your studies at QUT helped you?

When I first came to ACPNS in 2009 as a clueless mature age student with no undergraduate experience, I couldn’t believe how willing my fellow classmates and the staff and others were in supporting me through my studies. I have said many times that I’m indebted to QUT and those who invested so much time in helping me succeed so I’m a firm believer in giving back whenever possible.  My transition from the corporate world to the NFP sector has only been made possible through QUT. The Graduate Certificate (2009) provided a great platform for me to tackle my first generalist fundraising role and after completion of my Masters of Business (2011) in coursework, I really did feel better equipped when I moved to my current role. Having a degree from QUT solidifies your qualifications as being highly credible and this is of enormous professional benefit.  From the very first orientation weekend, I jumped in to involvement with the ACPNS Alumni Chapter Committee eventually becoming Chapter President for several years before stepping aside to join the QUT Alumni Board, and am now in my third elected term as a Board Member, also honoured to be serving as Vice President. I’m also thrilled to be part of the QUT Career Mentor’s Scheme and stand alongside young graduates as they consider the world of opportunity before them. More than ever, I believe that QUT’s ‘University for the Real World’ tag-line is genuine and in my current role I get to see the diversity of what is on offer and the proud local and global accomplishments of our graduates on the world stage. I am truly grateful for my QUT experience and how it has helped me get to where I am today.

As an alumnus, how do you think you and others can give back to the ACPNS Alumni Chapter?

I love a definition of philanthropy that incorporates elements of ‘time, talent, treasure and influence’ and the ACPNS Alumni Chapter presents the perfect opportunity for each and every ACPNS alumnus to demonstrate philanthropy in action.  Whether it be a chapter committee member, being available to sit on a sub-committee, making a donation towards scholarships/bursaries, being part of the giving circle or promoting the centre and its courses through your own personal and professional networks – there really is some way in which every alumnus can continue to contribute.  If you think you can help, contact the Centre to have the conversation.

If your life was made into a film, who would you get to play you?

I’m surprised you had to ask really – isn’t it obvious?  George Clooney.  We all have our bucket lists and I’m sure to play me is on his!



Genevieve Ileris
Director of Communications and Engagement at NHS

What are you doing now?

I’m a Director of Communications and Engagement for the National Health Service (NHS). I’m responsible for a major health and social care transformation programme in North London. We have brought together 21 health and social care organisations to deliver improvements to how services are delivered. The programme has an underlying prevention agenda to improve the health and wellbeing of the people of London by addressing some of the major health concerns including mental health and obesity while also addressing issues around recruitment and retention of skilled staff and housing affordability for the health and care workforce. The partnership includes five local councils, five clinical commissioning groups, four acute hospitals, four mental health facilities, and three specialist hospitals. We also work closely with the many third sector organisations that provide health and care services to some of the most deprived and vulnerable people in London. These strategic partnerships are of critical importance to reducing health and care inequalities across the city. 

Tell us about the sector…

I work for the National Health Service so I’m a government employee these days. However, my experience in the not-for-profit sector has provided me with a solid understanding of the pressures of operating in an environment of limited resources while managing the expectations of service quality. It makes for good working relationships when you understand some of the difficulties not-for-profits deal with everyday.

In my role, I get to work with some amazing third sector leaders – incredibly dedicated and talented. The level of professionalism has certainly increased. I’m also really impressed with the savvy use of social media to build community engagement, and for fundraising and advocacy work. It means even small organisations can get their message out and not be bound by geography.

Here in London, it’s a very crowded third sector, with many small organisations that struggle to compete for funding and for volunteers. There are also some huge major players such as McMillan Cancer that dominate the space and get a lot of media attention for their events and activities. 

Before I left Australia I worked for Ramsay Healthcare and we had a fantastic partnership with the RUOK? Day. I still take an “at distance” interest in their work. It’s been amazing to see how RUOK have built their public profile and gained so much community support. They’re a great example of how a not-for-profit can effectively use social media to build their support base. 

How have your studies at QUT helped you?

My graduate certificate in Philanthropy and Non-Profit Studies has provided me both the theoretical and practical business skills that I’ve been able to apply in my corporate and government roles. I’ve also developed a wonderful network of people working across the government, not-for-profit and corporate sectors as a direct result of my studies at QUT. Studying this course at QUT gave me the confidence to continue my studies in another field (Health Science) so I could focus on working specifically in the health sector. 

If you could choose your age forever, what age would you choose and why?

I’m 53 and my life now is probably the best it’s ever been. Life in London is great. I love my work. It’s demanding and challenging. I have amazing colleagues and I get to work with world-class clinicians, politicians and policy makers. My kids are grown up so I now have less home responsibilities and can spend time doing more of the things that I enjoy.

As a government employee, I get six weeks annual leave each year. So my husband and I travel often. Just last year we holidayed in Scotland, Wales, Provence, Paris, and did a road trip around the south and central Italy over Christmas. We’re off on a two week sailing holiday in the Cyclades (Greek Islands) in May.

Life just keeps getting better. 


Kylee Bates
CEO of Ardoch Youth Foundation

Listen to Kylee’s podcast which includes great tips on entering the philanthropy and nonprofit sector

 

 

What are you doing now?

I’m the CEO of Ardoch Youth Foundation a children’s education charity that provides educational support programs to children and young people living in disadvantaged communities.  I’ve been in this role around seven months and it’s a great organisation that really seems to punch above its weight.  We have a small paid staff of 19 but a volunteer base of over 1400 who are core to the delivery of our programs and with just under $2 million cash revenue last year we helped over 11,000 children and young people across more than 70 schools and early years services. 

In my ‘spare’ time I’m the volunteer World President of the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE) – a global membership organisation focused on promoting, supporting and celebrating volunteering throughout the world.  Our board is global and we have over 800 members across 70+ countries.

Tell us about the sector…

There is a growing amount of data that tells us about the size, scope and composition of the sector and some of the key things that impact it such as funding sources and changes in these.  This data is welcome as it is long overdue and is incredibly useful to those working in the sector, for those who support or make regulations that impact the sector and for those that lead within the sector.  It helps us do what any data should – make better decisions.  Critically though, this data also leads to increased understanding of, and interest in, the sector and its work.  In many respects this makes the job harder, not easier.  There are wider groups of stakeholders who have higher, or varying, expectations of what the sector can or should achieve.

This requires sector leaders who have an ability to navigate complexity and ambiguity and leaders who are resilient and are able to cultivate this in others. As demands for greater collaboration arise – and make sense – it also requires a putting aside of any sense of personal ego and a focus on what is good for the organisation that a person is leading.   I also think that there is a need for Boards and senior leaders to examine the extent to which they are willing to ‘fail’ in pursuit of new ideas and ways of working.  The business sector is often held up as a model for the not-for-profit sector with the latter encouraged to ‘be more commercial’ however the same threshold does not always seem to apply when it comes to projects or ideas that do not succeed.  So there is perhaps also a growing role for the sector and its leaders to be educators to the wider community about what the sector is, what it isn’t and importantly, highlight that the sector is not homogenous and is as diverse as the business sector and therefore one size will not fit all.

How have your studies at QUT helped you?

I always felt that the Certificate in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies helped to put some theoretical base to what I was learning in practice by working in the sector.  The additional frameworks that I learned have helped me to approach issues more strategically and also recognise and value the contribution and uniqueness of the sector in its own right. I’ve also enjoyed the networks that I’ve been able to forge, either directly or in a way that comes from finding a colleague is also an alumni of the Centre.

If you could only have one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

This question is as agonising as the question the presenter on Desert Island Discs asks all of the interview subjects at the end of the interview ‘if you could only save one piece of music from the waves what would it be’ – I haven’t managed to reconcile an answer to that one either! I admit that assuming this is not my last meal and I have the opportunity to eat it over and over again I suspect no matter what I choose I’d end up with taste fatigue.  However if pushed, I’d have to say Char-grilled Moreton Bay Bugs with a squeeze of lemon, a side of steamed asparagus and a glass of perfectly chilled Champagne followed by fresh mango (also chilled) for dessert.


Hannah Robertson
Development Officer at Geelong Grammar School

What are you doing now?

I am currently working as the Development Officer at Geelong Grammar School. My role is quite broad, focusing on Annual Giving, Scholarship stewardship and reporting and the administration for our Bequest Society. 

Tell us about the sector…

My experience (to this point) has been quite limited to education; schools in particular. It is an area with a huge amount of potential and capacity, especially as so many schools were founded on the notions of philanthropy. I definitely think that schools “have it easier” in the sense that we have alumni (many of whom remain closely affiliated and passionate about the cause). Nevertheless, our biggest challenge is participation and educating our community as to why fundraising is so important to the longevity of the school. 

Obviously technology is influencing how we communicate with our community and donors. Not only does it significantly reduce costs, it improves our reach – especially to the younger demographic. Online platforms; social media, email, websites and more improve accessibility and engagement dramatically so I am currently working on improving our online strategy. 

In terms of leaders, I think any good leader in the sector has to have compassion, gratitude and a desire to serve something bigger than themselves. For many people, fundraising is purely a numbers game, but I have learnt that it is important never to lose sight of your mission.  

How have your studies at QUT helped you?

I was very fresh to the sector when I started my studies at ACPNS. It provided me with a really solid understanding of the fundamentals – fundraising, accounting, ethics, legal and governance which I apply everyday in the workplace. The community is very supportive and I think that’s what makes it so special. 

Lastly, a very important question – do you prefer Home & Away or Neighbours?

Home & Away, die hard fan. 

 


Swain Roberts
Senior Legal Officer at University of the Sunshine Coast

What are you doing now?

Currently Senior Legal Officer of the University of the Sunshine Coast. That’s my day job. But, also on the following:

  • Director of the Alzheimer’s Australia (Qld)
  • Director of Alzheimer’s Australia Demetria Research Foundation
  • Director of Australia Singapore Business Association Qld
  • Councillor of St John’s College (UQ)
  • Co-Chair of Social Impact Measurement Network Australia (Qld Committee)
  • Member of Investment Committee of Buderim Foundation
  • Immediate Past President & Member of Sunshine Coast Grammar School P&F

Tell us about the sector…

The tertiary sector continues to go through significant change with both major opportunities and challenges alike.  Funding remains an on-going concern but it is a continuously evolving sector which is enormously important to  Australia both domestically and internationally.

How have your studies at QUT helped you?

My studies at QUT have provided me with many direct benefits.  For example, I work closely with USC’s Office of Development which is focused on encouraging philanthropic donations to the University and is very helpful that I am very familiar with the  a broad range of the issues relevant to philanthropic giving.  USC is also seeking to broaden its connections with the regional community and exploring ways in which social impact investment may play a role, including through social procurement and the encouraging the development of social enterprise.

If you were trapped on a deserted island, what three items would you take?

My three kids – who else could I tell my dad jokes to?


Ruth Knight
Founder of Zark Consultancy

Helping nonprofits and social enterprises develop the skills, processes and strategies they need to thrive

Listen to Ruth’s podcast which includes great tips on entering the philanthropy and nonprofit sector

 

What are you doing now?

There are two elements to my work. Firstly, I work as a team architect and coach for managers and leaders who want to create healthy workplace cultures and strong teams. Organisations often contact me when they want to assess their culture, or just want relationships and communication within the team to be better. I work with managers to help them understand the attributes of high performing teams and how they can easily develop these attributes within their own team. I also work with managers who know they want to change their workplace culture but don’t know how to do it effectively. I show them how to be successful change leaders and how to purposefully create a culture where their staff are engaged and supported to provide good customer service. Secondly, I work with executives and managers to assess and change their personal health and wellbeing. From personal experience I have learnt that is is hard to be a really effective leader if you are tired, unfit, overweight, stressed or burnt out.  There is a cultural shift gradually occurring in Australia with managers now recognising the benefit of optimising their own physical, psychological and social health.  It’s a very personal level of support that I offer but it has huge and far reaching outcomes when leaders are physically and mentally healthy and they can then role model their commitment to wellness to their team members. Both elements of my work are extremely rewarding and I am passionate about my work because I know how important it is for individuals, teams and organisations to have healthy and high performing workplaces, where people feel a sense of belonging and fulfillment, so they can achieve the best outcomes for their clients and community. If we are not working at our best, there are serious and negative consequences for organisations and those we work with. The risks include unethical behaviour, lack of accountability, stress, sickness, bullying, high turnover, conflict or presenteeism. Organisations can protect themselves from these challenges by creating cultures where employees are healthy, resilient and focused on collective achievement.

Tell us about the sector…

There is a big shift in the way we value and manage people. There is much more of an emphasis on strategically developing people’s soft skills such as how to manage performance, build resilience, manage their time and have difficult conversations. I find more people are asking me how they can create learning cultures where their team members are good problem solvers and are critical thinkers. Perhaps that is because we are working with more complex clients and many employees are feeling stressed and overworked. We have to find a way of reducing staff turnover, conflict and disengagement which costs our organisations a lot of time and resources. This sector depends on getting good outcomes for clients, so we have to support employees to be motivated and passionate about continuously improving, managing our work and time effectively. I think the sector is recognising how important it is to lead and manage change well. Organisations are bombarded with changes that need to be implemented, either for internal or external reasons. If an organisation is not able to motivate and support their workforce effectively, people quickly become change fatigued, resistant to change or overwhelmed with change. So organisations are realising how important it is for all staff to be open to change, embracing change and feeling supported when change needs to occur. Organisations are also becoming much more aware of the importance of managers having good leadership skills. Many managers get promoted to coordinator or management roles without having an understanding of what skills and knowledge they need to do their job. That means they can become frustrated or burnt out. I think it’s wonderful that the sector is investing more in developing people’s leadership skills, supporting managers to gain the skills they need to lead high performing teams and create positive cultures.

How have your studies at QUT helped you?

Studying at QUT has helped me become a great researcher and I am now able to make much better informed decisions about the way I work and what I recommend to clients I work with. I’ve learnt to challenge myself, believe in myself and what I am capable of! I never thought that one day I would achieve a PhD, but I have proved to myself that when you are dedicated and passionate about something, and you have good mentors to support you, absolutely anything is possible!

What’s your favorite quote?

There are two quotes from John Maxwell really speak to me. He says “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” and “If we are growing we are always going to be outside our comfort zone.” Every time I read these I remember that when I step outside my comfort zone, I am forced to take in information that expands my knowledge and see things from different perspectives. This helps me to value change instead of being fearful of it.  This process of action learning and enrichment can be incredibly fulfilling and satisfying. It’s why I use action learning within my work and encourage leaders to use the process to build and create brilliant teams.


Kylee Bates
World President, International Association for Volunteer Effort

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Two years in the job

You would be hard-pressed to find a more committed advocate for volunteering and the impact it can have on communities than ACPNS alumnus, Kylee Bates. As World President of the International Association for Volunteer Effort (IAVE), Kylee has this month marked two years in the job – and what a job it is!

IAVE aims to promote, strengthen and celebrate the development of volunteering worldwide. As part of her role Kylee has focused on developing and communicating a clear vision for the global volunteer community and providing leadership to increase the visibility and credibility of IAVE’s work. And there is much to celebrate! In 2015 the United Nations (UN) adopted the resolution to ‘integrate volunteering into peace and development’ in their plan of action for the next decade and beyond. This resolution is of particular importance to IAVE; for the first time, volunteer-involving organisations, including IAVE, are explicitly mentioned in the resolution and acknowledged for their work at local, national, regional and global levels.

Pretty impressive stuff – especially considering that one of Kylee’s hopes when taking on this role was to see IAVE widely recognised as the global voice on volunteering, and see volunteering acknowledged as a key asset for human development and addressing global problems.

Kylee has also recently been appointed Chief Executive Officer of Ardoch Youth Foundation, whose educational support programs for children and young people in disadvantaged communities are driven by volunteers who are committed to helping children realise their potential through full participation in education.

Further Kylee was recently jointly awarded the 2016 Greg Vickery Scholarship, an annual scholarship awarded for the purpose of undertaking an overseas study project that will benefit the work of the Australian Red Cross. This scholarship will see her attending the World Volunteer Conference in Mexico City and visiting key volunteer organisations in the United States to examine their approaches to volunteer engagement. Congratulations, Kylee!

Kylee’s study at ACPNS has helped her get where she is today.

“My graduate studies at ACPNS provided some good theoretical frameworks that could be applied practically to strengthen the impact of the work I do and also offered me some valuable professional connections.”

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Kylee and others at IAVE celebrate the UN’s adoption of 17 Global Goals including ‘integrating volunteering into peace and development’

Lizzie Corke
Founder, Conservation Ecology Centre

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Lizzie knows more than most about the challenges facing Australia’s wildlife. After graduating with a BSc in Zoology from the University of Melbourne, she and Shayne Neal founded the Conservation Ecology Centre (CEC) at Cape Otway on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.

The CEC is a nonprofit organisation with a mission to inspire confidence in the future through effective, innovative and engaging approaches to conserving wildlife and the ecosystems on which they depend. The Centre particularly focuses on engaging individuals and communities in conservation issues and solutions, attracting supporters locally, nationally, and from around the world. The CEC is a manifestation of Lizzie’s belief that our future depends on our generation’s ability to take a thoughtful and integrated approach to advancement and conservation.

In recognition of her work Lizzie was awarded the 2005 Prime Minister’s Award for Environmentalist of the Year, the youngest ever and first female recipient of this award. The CEC established and operates the Great Ocean Ecolodge as a social enterprise and this venture has recently been recognised by National Geographic as one of the 25 best Ecolodges in the world. To learn more about the CEC go to conservationecologycentre.org

Lizzie chose to undertake the Graduate Certificate in Business (Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies). She says:

“When looking for professional development opportunities I was particularly attracted by ACPNS’s practical, real world approach to improvement. As the Conservation Ecology Centre and my own role have developed and expanded, the Graduate Certificate course offers me skills and insights which I have been able to apply instantly, with great benefits to the organisation, our team, the delivery of our mission and my own career. The flexibility the course offers has allowed me to integrate my studies successfully into a busy existing work schedule. I study via correspondence, and the ACPNS team has been incredibly welcoming, supportive and accessible.”

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Joe Tooma
CEO, Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation

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Joe spent over ten years as a lawyer and was the solicitor of the Supreme Court of Qld and High Court of Australia. He won the Centenary Medal for Service to Australian Society and to the Law. After completing his Master of Business (Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies), Joe took up the role of Chief Executive Officer at The Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation (ACCF). ACCF works in Australia, and through its Overseas Relief Fund in developing countries, to enhance and protect women’s health. The Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation Health Promotion Charitable Trust works in Australia to eliminate cervical cancer. To learn more about the Foundation go to www.accf.org.au. Joe says:

“Thanks to my studies with ACPNS I was able to transition from the for-profit to the nonprofit sector. Instead of working as a lawyer, I now I have the opportunity to save women’s lives in some of the world’s most exotic plces like Nepal, Bhutan and Kiribati.”


Hayley Bolding
Founder, Atma

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After completing a BA in International Studies at RMIT, ACPNS Masters student, Hayley Bolding, travelled to India at the age of 23 and founded a non-profit organisation in Mumbai. Atma, meaning ‘Soul’ in Hindi, was created to assist the underprivileged in India who face educational challenges.
Under Hayley’s leadership, Atma has moved from a start-up to a well-respected nonprofit organisation engaging 21 partner organisations which impact over 18,000 beneficiaries. International fundraising chapters have also been set up in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and The Netherlands. To learn more about Atma go to www.atma.org.in
Awarded Young Australian of the Year 2013 (Vic) in recognition of her work in India, Hayley currently works at the Australia India Institute managing exchange programs for young people between India and Australia.
Returning to Australia after six years in India, she completed her Master of Business (Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies) with ACPNS. Hayley states:

“After so many years of International and field experience, I chose to do my Masters with ACPNS as the program provides a framework for me to consolidate and grow my understanding of the nonprofit field. More importantly, it’s connected me to a dynamic and vibrant community of people and practice that is on the cutting edge of what is happening in the sector.”

Hayley in actionBEST


Jennifer Robertson
Consultant, Board Matters, a specialist Australia-wide consulting firm with not-for-profit governance and legal expertise

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After more than ten years in private legal practice, Jennifer made the strategic career move to become a corporate governance consultant at Board Matters. Throughout her private practice career, Jennifer has sat on boards of many nonprofit organisations. Today, after almost eight years at Board Matters, Jennifer is Board Matters’ Governance Practice Leader and a practicing lawyer. She also maintains a number of company director roles. Jennifer was recently elected to the role of QUT’s Alumni President. She says:

“There are a lot of doors that open for you once you’ve finished studying at the Centre. Others in the nonprofit environment recognise that my degree focuses on their particular industry and the nuances of the sector so it’s something that is seen as being very highly regarded, not just to nonprofits but also those in for-profits who seek to understand what the nonprofit sector is trying to do. Thanks to my studies I now have the great privilege to be able to work with the Board of some of the most iconic nonprofits in Australia.”

Jen in action


Andrew Judge
CEO, SurfAid

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Andrew Judge is the CEO of SurfAid International, a humanitarian organisation whose aim is to improve the health, wellbeing and self-reliance of people living in isolated regions connected through surfing. The organisation works with, and in support of, the community – from the idea for a program to the implementation of the program.
This year SurfAid is proud to celebrate 15 years of supporting communities in remote areas throughout the Asia Pacific region. Andrew says:

“Coming from the private sector, my studies with ACPNS have been invaluable. They’ve given me valuable insights around management, compliance, accounting and fundraising in a nonprofit organisation as well as a clear perspective of how boards operate. Without the grounding the Centre provided, I wouldn’t have been able to work as I have with SurfAid.”

Andrew in action


What would receiving a scholarship mean to you?

Mitchell Witherington
Fundraising and Philanthropy Manager, Wesley Mission Brisbane

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Mitchell Witherington is the Fundraising and Philanthropy Manager for Wesley Mission Brisbane where he is responsible for engaging and asking the community (individuals, businesses, trusts, foundations and schools) to invest (donations, sponsorship, in-kind, pro-bono, other) in helping disadvantaged members of our society. Their support helps to enhance their capacity, choice and independence, strengthen relationships and build community well-being.

Prior to this, Mitch worked for Global Philanthropic, an international fundraising consultancy, where he was the lead consultant on a number of significant projects including a $1.5billion HKD capital campaign strategy for Crossroads Foundation in Hong Kong, a $6million restoration of St Joseph’s Cathedral in Rockhampton and a $500,000 solar energy project for a small community organisation in Brisbane’s North.

Mitch was awarded a scholarship for the Certificate of Business (Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies). He states:

“My family sacrificed a lot for me to work in the nonprofit sector but thanks to a scholarship through the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (ACPNS) at QUT, I was fortunate to learn from industry leaders and apply new theories, concepts and research to my work. The scholarship eased the financial burdens of working, studying and raising a family and gave me an opportunity to formalise my practical experiences and secure a leadership position in the sector.”