Four months ago I took a leap for good, and while it has been a roller-coaster, I wouldn’t change a thing.
By Zoe Robinson.
In my former life, which is how I now consider it, I worked in professional services as a lawyer, and then in internal strategy for a big four accounting firm, for around eight years. As a lawyer you have instant respect when you walk into a room and I can’t deny that working for a big brand firm opened a lot of doors. And that was nice.
But, I know myself: I’m driven by purpose. We all are in one way or another. Be it for our partner, our friends, our community, our family, our children, a cause or a calling – we have purpose. We only hope that we can also have purpose in the work we do.
I now work for the peak body in NSW for youth homelessness. It can be daunting to take a step back financially, but that is all that is hard. If you do work that you are passionate about, the rewards are not financial, they are more meaningful. I joked recently at a women’s breakfast event that you should never take your stationary cabinets for granted when you are in the corporate world. The reality is that in not-for-profit organisations (NFP) we do a lot with a lot less. We have a lot less staff, we have a lot less back office (or front office),and we have a lot less money to work with, but what we do with what we have is incredibly worthwhile and impressive.
The NFP sector is full of talented individuals and teams. They are passionate, empathetic and giving individuals, and they do it because they believe in what they are doing. The conversations you have in the sector are sophisticated and hopeful. People are talking about ending homelessness and they are determined to help do that. More than ever, the private sector is becoming more engaged with NFPs, especially when it comes to skilled volunteering. And the community wants to give back.
As a result – even by taking this leap, I find myself more exposed to and in closer contact with professionals, government and community members. We have the skills of organisations around us and people around us who want to give. I work with really talented PR people, marketing people and of course, I work with my old employers. They are all willing to give their skills and their time. It means that the network that supports our organisation is incredibly strong and talented.
Work takes up most of our time. It takes us away from our family, from the beach, from things that we love to do. But the thing is, and I never really understood this until now, if you do something that you like and that gives you further purpose – then you get to spend time making a difference and really having an impact that matters.
Every day I am inspired by the workers and services who support young people who are homeless or have experienced homelessness. And I am inspired by the young people; by their determination and fierce nature to overcome the hand life has thrown them. This role has given me a greater opportunity to learn, to grow and, most importantly, to do, than any corporate role has. However, every single role I held before this made this role possible. The skills I learned and honed in on – the resilience, the determination, the way of thinking – it all helps me do what I am doing now.
Boards of NFPs are looking for smart people to be part of their organisations. They are looking for strategic thinkers who can approach the problem differently. The NFP world is very open to corporate talent making the move into NFP. Don’t forget we run a business too, and we do it with a lot less. But man it feels good to do good. Take the leap, your soul will thank you.