Journey to being an SVP Partner: Paula Giles

An interview with Paula Giles by Paula Giles!

How did you get involved?

I received an invitation from Marianne Broadbent to attend an evening at which Lance Fors was speaking. I was curious as I knew nothing about ‘engaged philanthropy’ or what ‘social ventures’ were but the idea of supporting different not-for-profit entities to build their capacity, influence and scale really interested me. At that stage in my life/career my term on a NFP board had expired and I was looking for something to take its place. Also, at a more personal level my father had died recently and I wanted to do something beyond the current boundaries of my work and life to make ‘each day count’. And so I asked myself, ‘if not now, when?’ and ‘if not this, what?’

What attracted you to SVP and the SVP model?

There are several. One was the combination of being local and global. Having worked in several global companies for large chunks of my career I was keen to maintain the type of friendships that come from meeting people with similar but different cultural and professional backgrounds. So being part of SVP Melbourne meant I could be part of a global community as well focus on my own back yard – one social enterprise at a time – because I am passionate about Melbourne. Another reason was that we are not single issue, specific cause or faith based. Each year we carefully consider entities that are doing interesting, innovative and important work. This variety means partners can get involved in social ventures that they are personally interested in. Also, there is a rich tradition of philanthropy and active citizenship in Melbourne and in my own modest way I wanted to be part of that tradition. With SVP Melbourne I can make a financial contribution and also apply my professional skills and experience in useful ways, in different settings and work with some amazing people.

What have you been doing since you became a partner?

The SVP model is flexible as it enables you to participate in a different ways and degrees. I was particularly keen to help SVP Melbourne become established, grow and be an active member of Melbourne’s vibrant philanthropic community. While we are fortunate to have the resources from the global SVP network, we are an early stage start up with all the challenges this involves. To achieve the scale, reach and impact that some of our partner cities around the world have achieved would be wonderful. As a result I became involved in the Memberships and Events Committee of SVP Melbourne and was fortunate to be asked to be on the board last year.

Many of our partners are ‘mature stage’ professionals and I believe there are so many similar people we know in our combined networks that would enjoy and gain immense personal satisfaction from being part of SVP. We just need to get the word out there.

What has surprised you since becoming involved in SVP?

There are others who are just like me! I really enjoy the company of my fellow SVP partners and meeting our fellow partners in the global SVP community. We have an immediate connection which is almost like a guilty secret – how could we have so much fun AND be doing something socially useful at the same time? Also, I continue to learn. From speakers at our events and from the talented, passionate and committed people who are leading the different social enterprises we fund. I find this collision and then fusion of worlds and experiences to achieve socially important outcomes really exciting, satisfying and unexpected.

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