When an opportunity knocks, it is often dressed up as an ugly problem. In my case, it was the opportunity to jump into a metaphorical aeroplane spiralling out of control at 2,000 feet above ground level. Scared? I was too when I found a young charity serving people with a disability was in financial distress and the fate of approximately 50 staff and hundreds of clients hung in the balance.
At the time I was a corporate warrior yearning to make a difference in the social impact sector and had the privilege of being appointed as CEO to either do an orderly winddown or complete a rapid turnaround. As fate would have it, in 10 months, my team and I turned around the organisation and we not only survived but thrived! We more than doubled the size of the organisation and positioned it to operate sustainably for the foreseeable future.
This experience made me realise how valuable a traditional business skill set can be in the social impact sector and from that moment.
I was and still am today, determined to build and use my commercial acumen to help scale social impact organisations.
The sector labels of “for profit” and “not for profit” give us the illusion that they are opposites of each other. In my view, lasting and scalable social impact lies at the intersection of purpose and profit. My hope is that we create a world where purpose and profit can co-exist in harmony and I hope to play a small role in making this happen through my future pursuits.
In 2020, I was fortunate to be awarded the Anstice MBA Scholarship for Community Leadership which provides leaders from the not-for-profit and social enterprise sectors with the opportunity to gain world class business skills. So far, I have completed three units of study, all of which have been relevant in my current role as Chief Operating Officer at Action on Poverty.
The part-time nature of the MBA allows for a rich learning environment as many of the concepts can be applied in a professional context straight away. As I learnt in Leadership Development and Practice, gathering information is attaining knowledge, however learning comes from applying the information to a real-world problem. The MBA is turbo charging my ability to make sound decisions in volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environments.