by KYLEA TINK
For just over 4 years now, I’ve been the CEO at the McGrath Foundation and in many ways, it was a role I fell into because someone I knew, and liked, needed help.
By no means is this the cookie-cutter, rat race to green grass transition. I had a wonderful career and enjoyed my time as a PR consultant – travelling to New York, Singapore and London, meeting some incredible people such as Donald Rumsfeld and Teddy Kennedy and working on campaigns and brand stories I truly believed in and felt part of. As one of the youngest MDs for the consultancy internationally, I was rewarded with a flexible work environment to accommodate my young and growing family – and an amazing level of responsibility and opportunity.
But it was a recommendation to a client in 2006 that started my C Change- shifting from Commercial to Charity. I told a client that to make a global initiative work in Australia, they needed a charity partner, leading me to discover the McGrath Foundation and what the girls were trying to achieve. And so from 2006 to 2008, my PR Consultancy worked with the McGrath Foundation on a pro-bono basis, allowing me to establish strong relationships with the team which would later become friendships.
I felt a personal affinity with Jane because I had discovered a lump in my breast the same year Jane had found hers, although I was lucky mine was benign.
I was fortunate enough to have my youngest child in 2007 – a gorgeous little girl to join my son and my other daughter. Life was incredibly full and for the first time ever, I actually took maternity leave. But it was during this time Jane passed away and in a sense you could say, it was when my life would be forever changed.
June 22, 2008 will always be a date that causes me to pause. It was my youngest daughter’s christening day, and just after lunch, I received a message about Jane’s passing. It was such a sad day but I did what any friend would do in the same circumstance – I sent a message to Tracy (Bevan) sending her all of my love and letting her know if there was anything I could do to help I was only a phone call away.
That call came early the next morning from the one of the only two staff then working for the Foundation. Did I have any advice on handling the media? How should she handle the calls from State Government officials and comments on the website? Within 45 minutes, the kids were dropped off to another friend and I headed into the Foundation’s offices where I stayed pretty much day in and day out for the next four weeks.
In the week after Jane’s passing, more than $1.3 million in donations poured in from a nation that can only be described as being in a state of mourning. People were devastated that someone so graceful and so loved could have been lost. They wanted to be there for Jane’s family and friends and to honour her memory.
But by the end of August when Glenn, Tracy and the staff had regrouped after Jane’s passing to look to the future for the Foundation and what needed to be achieved in her memory, I couldn’t help but feel I had an obligation to stay. Slowly but surely the tides started to turn for my “C” change.
The problem was I’d never aspired to work for a charity. While I admired people that took the ‘call’, I felt many of the organisations had lost touch – they were too big and too often, in my opinion, concerned with keeping themselves going rather than getting on with real work, the all important reason they had come to be.