As I write this blog I'm literally half way between Australia and the UK as I travel back following three weeks helping the Good Things Australian team in Sydney. I'm feeling inspired as I reflect on Good Things' new normal as a Group with a subsidiary on the other side of the world, as well as reflecting on how much we've achieved in such a short period of time in Australia.
Something to shout about
Two really big milestones for our Australian team happened in my last week in Sydney.
We reached 900 Network Partners in our Be Connected Network in just six months - that's from all over Australia, every State and Territory, and in metro, regional and remote areas. This is a huge achievement and I hope it means that what we have on offer is really attractive. Talking to some of our Network Partners they are also really enjoying being part of something bigger - a big club with a shared vision - and we're looking forward to providing ongoing advocacy and support for digital inclusion at a hyperlocal level.
We also held our first and only physical face-to-face partner meeting for organisations who are working with us to capacity build the Be Connected network. We're working with around 10 organisations who come from different geographies and from different types of organisation. Including:
In New South Wales, we're working with Leep - an organisation who are experts in recruiting and motivating volunteers and who are now embedding that expertise in digital mentors.
In Western Australia (WA) we're working with the Australian Seniors Computer Club Association (ASCCA) and two project coordinators from the very North of WA and the very South of WA - both remote areas - and they will be working with organisations wanting to join the Be Connected Network and supporting them mainly via video calls.
In Victoria, we're working with two very different organisations. Lively is a new non-profit start-up linking young unemployed people (18-25) with older people who want help with their internet skills. ECCV (Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria) is a much older organisation who works with social clubs and seniors clubs in Melbourne and Victoria who are from specific ethnic groups.
It was wonderful to meet all of the Capacity Builder projects. We will continue to have webinar meetings face-to-face but we won't geographically be in the same room again - nor, even in the same time zone (in the Australian Winter there are five time zones across the country).
My reflections on leading and working in a Group really feels like I'm working for two organisations who have the same vision, the same goals and ambition but with different governance, different funders and in an opposite timezone. Working with teams on opposite sides of the world is challenging but also rewarding.
A big thank you
I really need to give huge thanks to Jess Wilson our National Director in Australia who is doing a great job keeping all of the plates spinning from the practical recruitment of network partners to engaging a range of stakeholders and bigger partners. Our plan is to keep the team small in Sydney and for UK staff with relevant knowledge and expertise to help us set up all our digital tools and systems and processes.
A huge thanks also goes to Fran Coleman who is leading the teams in Sheffield (our UK base) to support our Australian counterparts. Both Jess and Fran inevitably spend a lot of time out of the 9-5 just to make sure they can talk to each other.
Ooroo aka goodbye for now
When I'm in Australia there's all the thrills and excitement of working for a start-up, except this one has a three year contract with the Federal Government and colleagues in the UK with years of experience. Those thrills come with the knowledge that there's so much to do, there's so much opportunity and if you work 24 hours a day you'll never do what you need to do.
Back in the UK I have to hit the ground running reporting to the Digital Skills Partnership Board on Tuesday. It's always great being in the Sheffield office and with our Sheffield team, they're so positive and so focused and so productive.
My final thoughts as I jet back to the snowy UK is that I really am proud to lead such an effective organisation on both sides of the globe and I couldn't do it without the support of so many amazing people.