This week we're in Sydney to introduce Board Member, Chloë Spackman, who joined our team earlier this year.
What is your day job?
My 365-day job is being a mum to my curious, chubby-cheeked one year old, Augie. My other day job is as Director of Programs at non-profit the Australian Futures Project. The simplest way to explain what we do at Australian Futures Project is to say that we're committed to ending short-termism in Australia by understanding the root causes and then engaging leaders, experts, and the public to identify and implement systemic solutions.
At Project Didi, we’re all about empowering women to bring about positive change. Which women do you look up to?
There are so many, and thanks to a world of democratised technology I can follow them and connect with them all over the world. You wouldn't know it when you look at mainstream media or entertainment, or the data around female leadership in business or sport or government - but I see and hear stories every day about incredibly talented, resilient, unique, uncompromising and unapologetic women doing things that change lives and history. I find every story and every little action inspiring. Here's an example I just read five minutes ago about Indigenous women bringing their knowledge of country to fight fires and abate greenhouse gases as rangers.
What is a trip that has changed you and why?
I volunteered with the Instituto de Artesanía e Industrias Populares del Estado de Puebla in Mexico in my early-twenties. It wasn't my first volunteering assignment overseas but it was the first time that I really grasped the idea that despite my best intentions, I wasn't really helping, and what they needed was more community voice and local empowerment. I was part of an international team tasked with researching artisans and traditional industries in the Puebla area and writing a report for the Institute with recommendations on what could be done to ensure their financial sustainability and survival. It was a very imperfect volunteer experience but one that was critical to my career trajectory and my advice to (possibly) hundreds of students who were considering international volunteering opportunities in the future. It continues to shape the way I understand social impact and development today. Also, Mexico is an incredible country and an academic from a university there introduced to the stunning writing of Octavio Paz and his depictions of the essence of Mexican people and their country (you should check it out).
Why is volunteering important to you?
The obvious answer is that it is a core value of mine to be of service and contribute positively to the world, but it's also a mutually beneficial arrangement and that doesn't get advertised as much, although it is becoming more commonly accepted wisdom. There is a lot of evidence behind the idea that volunteering is good for both mind and body. We can be inherently very selfish, naval gazing creatures (and I am definitely including myself in that). Using what I have to help others - even if what I have is just time - makes me feel good. Plus, I get to spend time with brilliant people like everyone at Project Didi.
How do you balance volunteering/ work/ life? Any tips?
(i) I don't know what balance is but I suspect it's a myth and I don't aim for it because it's just another nebulous goal I will feel irritated about not attaining. (ii) Have a great community around you, people who can help when you need it - and more importantly people you're happy to actually ask for help! (iii) Make lists and prioritise ruthlessly. It sounds simple but it's my number one life-enabler.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?