Miss this week’s two-day NFP People Conference 2016 in Melbourne, the pinnacle event for Australian HR leaders and decision makers in the NFP sector? Not a problem. We flew down from QLD’s Sunshine Coast to get involved and are happy to give you a post-conference wrap-up, Q&A style, so you don’t miss a beat…

What is the NFP People Conference 2016?

The NFP People Conference claims to be the largest event focussed on how to attract, train and retain the best people for the Not For Profit (NFP) sector in Australia. It’s run by the good people at EthicalJobs.com.au and brings together 500 senior leaders, volunteer managers, CEOs, board members and HR pros, to learn from, and be inspired by, peers in the (mostly) NFP sector.

What did we learn at the NFP People Conference 2016?

Jack Manning Bancroft (pictured above), Young Australian of the Year (NSW) in 2010 and the founder of AIME (Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience), was unquestionably the most inspiring speaker of the event. If you haven’t booked him to keynote your next conference, do so today! His story is incredible. 7,000 kids mentored, 2,500 volunteers, 130 paid staff. And he’s now trying to raise $2 million to help young folk overseas replicate his Australian model. But it was his vision and storytelling ability that captivated the audience the most.

Christine Nixon, former Victorian Police Commissioner, is one awesome, trailblazing woman. 37 years in the police force, constantly fighting discrimination along the way, the best piece of advice she was given on her journey? “You’re no dumber than the blokes. If they can do it, so can you.” The best piece of advice she gave the audience? “If you want people to blossom and bloom, be a good gardener.”

Dr Helen Szoke, Chief Executive of Oxfam Australia, shared how important it is to be make decisions as a leader. “The senior leadership team is there to make decisions and stand by the decisions. Staff don’t like spirals of uncertainty.” She added that, “Our biggest challenge is to let people do their jobs… to coach for success rather than control for outcomes.”

Adele Stowe-Linder, National Programs Manager at Ardoch Youth Foundation, quoting Benjamin Franklin: “Tell me, and I’ll forget. Teach me, and I’ll remember. Involve me, and I’ll learn.”

Marco De Iseo, Acting Senior Manager, Learning and Development, Neami National (who have 800 staff), purposely pause in their recruitment interviews for 5-10 minutes and invite the job candidate to meet someone else in the team, while the interviewers discuss their initial impressions  and decide what else they need to know before the candidate leaves the building.

Kerry Shields, National Volunteer Manager, Starlight Children’s Foundation, who said the Foundation likes to call themselves a “for purpose” organisation rather than a “not for profit” organisation, shared that they have now granted 9,000 wishes and this year alone have had 35,000 volunteer hours donated. In terms of recruitment, their philosophy is that you improve the quality of your HR team, you improve the quality of the employees and volunteers they then recruit.

Bronwyn Sheehan, the Brisbane-based, Australian of the Year Finalist in 2009 and the founder of The Pyjama Foundation told us that 92% of children in foster care have below average reading skills. That’s shocking. Bronwyn started her social venture by reading one book to one foster kid. Now she has 1,500 Pyjama Angel volunteers who read to 1,400 foster care children each week. She says it’s largely because she persisted and didn’t give up when times got tough.

Aline Van Koninckxloo, Operations Manager at GetUp!, use an application form instead of a cover letter in their job application process, to avoid “lazy cover letter” syndrome. They also test candidates on mini-projects or tasks before offering ongoing employment.

David Arkell, Leader of Human Resources for GE Australia, New Zealand and PNG, shared a learning from his time working in Indonesia. He was negotiating with employees about their proposed pay rise and learned that (quoting his colleague Abdul Rachim),“If you offer a man an apple today, or two apples in a month’s time, a man’s answer will always depend how hungry he is.”

There was plenty more to learn, but we unfortunately we couldn’t be in more than one room at once. If you have more to add, feel free to add your learnings in the comments below.

Who were the Keynote Speakers?

  • Dr. Helen Szoke, Chief Executive, Oxfam Australia
  • Jack Manning Bancroft, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, AIME (Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience)
  • David Arkell, Leader – Human Resources for Australia, NZ and PNG, GE Australia
  • Christine Nixon, Former Chief Commissioner, Victoria Police

Who were the Concurrent Session Speakers?

  • Adele Stowe-Lindner, National Programs Manager, Ardoch Youth Foundation
  • Ailsa Leacy, General Manager, YWCA Queensland
  • Aimi Johnson, Executive Manager – Carer Wellbeing, Uniting Care LifeAssist
  • Aline Van Koninckxloo, Operations Manager, GetUp!
  • Aoife Brady, Talent and Attraction Specialist, The Benevolent Society
  • Bronwyn Sheehan, Founder and Executive Director, The Pyjama Foundation
  • Carmel Marshall, Planning and Development Manager, Centacare Central QLD
  • Christopher Francis, Chief Executive Officer, Laynhapuy Homelands Aboriginal Corporation
  • Deb Bryant, Senior Manager, People, Capability and Culture, Neami National
  • Dr. Deirdre Thompson, Director of Operations, Bravehearts
  • Jacqui Andrews, General Manager, People, Culture and Capability, Launch Housing (formerly Hanover and HomeGround)
  • Katrina Porteus, Chief Operating Officer, Climate Council
  • Karen Jenkins, General Manager, People and Culture, On the Line Australia
  • Kerry Shields, National Volunteer Manager, Starlight Children’s Foundation
  • Keryn Paviour-Smith, National Manager Talent and Attraction, Life Without Barriers
  • Lucy O’Flaherty, Chief Executive Officer, Glenview Community Services
  • Marco De Ieso, Acting Senior Manager, Learning and Development, Neami National
  • Marian Spencer, Head of Operations, People and Culture, Black Dog Institute
  • Mary McKinnon, National Director, Practice and Quality, Life Without Barriers
  • Michelle McQuaid, Positive business expert, best-selling author, workplace wellbeing teacher and coach
  • Mike Brett, Senior Account Executive, Xref
  • Michelle Pereira, Youth & Education Development Manager, St Vincent de Paul, VIC
  • Melissa Volp, Community Services Manager – Y Ability, YWCA Queensland
  • Pamela Weatherill, Director of People and Culture, Bravehearts
  • Ralph Salera, Program Manager, Transitional Services, The Salvation Army Westcare
  • Rosie Stilin, Executive Director, People Learning and Culture, The Benevolent Society
  • Sally Alacqua, Recruitment Services Manager, Royal Melbourne Hospital & NorthWest Mental Health
  • Dr. Sen Sendjaya, Associate Professor, Monash Business School, Monash University
  • Tim Moran, Head of Workplace Engagement, beyondblue
  • Tracy Mellor, Group People Director, Reward Gateway

Thanks very much to Zoe Fitzpatrick, the NFP People Conference team and all of the wonderful attendees at this year’s event. Maybe we’ll see you again next year!