Scholar Profile - Alison Leitch PDF Print E-mail
Alison Leitch

ALISON LEITCH

Grants and Submissions Manager at Silver Chain Group

Awarded a BankWest Foundation / WACOSS scholarship for the Community Sector Management Course, 2014


What sort of work does your organisation do?

The Silver Chain Group is a leading provider of home and community based health and aged care services. We support over 87,000 Australians annually through services including home and community care, aged care packages, hospital substitution services with high quality community based clinical care, and rural and remote health care. Silver Chain operates the largest home hospital service in the country (across metropolitan Perth) and provides home-based palliative care services providing nation leading outcomes for death in place of choice. Silver Chain’s mission is to build community capacity to improve health and wellbeing through delivering impactful services in the home.

Describe a typical day's work.

My role is to manage the grants and submissions function within Business Development, including management of a small team of Submission Writers. We work together as a close team to ensure that key tenders, grant applications and submissions for funding are submitted on time and with high quality value propositions. The BD team works closely with our Strategy and Innovation teams and with our operational teams to provide high quality translation of our service offerings into the required tender format. Daily activities include identifying and evaluating opportunities; working with operational and executive teams to identify key messages and value propositions to a diverse range of funders; writing tenders and funding submissions; managing the overall tender submissions process to ensure that all elements come together within the frequently challenging submission timeframes for submission; and contributing to the broader BD agenda including strategic preparedness for opportunities to expand Silver Chain’s impact and services.

What are some of the key learnings from the Community Sector Management Course?

My key learnings have been around improving my ability to manage my own performance and that of others in my team. My role managing the Silver Chain Grants and Submissions team is the first time I have managed other staff or had to manage team dynamics. Luckily I have a great group of people that I work with….but I have also taken a great deal of value from the course especially in managing teams and individual performance, and how best to “be in the dance and on the balcony”…or keeping your own productivity high while managing others and overall strategy.

How has it impacted / changed / benefited your role and your organisation as a whole?

Studying the WACOSS Diploma of Management course has enabled me to grow further into my current role, where I am managing a small team of other people for the first time. I was lucky enough to have a significant break from work after having babies, and spent eight years out of the workforce. Within three years at Silver Chain my role has grown significantly. Studying the WACOSS Diploma has enabled me to gain confidence in my abilities within the role and to feel that I have a lot more to offer both my team and the organisation more broadly. Studying operational planning and management has been very timely as I have been involved in the development of the Business Development Unit’s business plan for the first time this year. I have also significantly been able to better meet my responsibilities in managing other people through examination of a range of issues around leadership. This has assisted me in defining my leadership style and philosophy as well as developing further skills across management activities such as prioritising and allocating work, performance management and coaching.

How did you come to be working in the not-for-profit sector?

I originally studied psychology and have worked previously in the public sector in the Commonwealth Department of Health and in educational settings. However this is the first time I have worked for a not-for-profit organisation. I was very lucky in that after 8 years away from the workforce I applied for a casual role in submission writing with Silver Chain. My prior experience in managing grants programs for the Commonwealth was helpful. Once I had my foot in the door I was away and I haven’t looked back….I love working in the not-for-profit sector as there is great understanding of the needs of families, of working mums and the need for a work, life balance. At the same time you are able to do really interesting and challenging work with a strong values focus. I believe that it is important to do work that aligns with your core personal values and working in the NFP sector it is easy to feel that you are contributing something important to the world.

What do you feel is most needed to sustain and build the impact of the not-for-profit sector?

I think that the NFP sector needs recognition that it can be a key contributing force to meeting social needs on a commercially viable basis. We need clarity around the role we can play to help solve social problems while competing in the real world market place, particularly as sector reforms hit. Through operating from a basis of values, NFP organisations have different motivations to purely commercial enterprises and therefore are motivated to help solve key social problems – which are also coincidentally the very problems government are trying to solve. There also needs to be increasing recognition that NFPs can run on a commercially sound basis and that a key to sector longevity is for increasing knowledge and shared resources on how to make this happen. This includes government support and partnerships with the NFP sector to create win-win approaches for solving social problems. It is exciting to see the developments occurring in this space such as social impact investment, outcomes based funding and public-private partnerships. NFP organisations have a great lead in delivering outcomes and hopefully will work together to be competitive in this exciting new space.

What is something interesting / unique / unusual about you?

I lived in both Malawi in Africa and PNG as a kid before my family moved to Australia. I also spent a few years living in Vietnam with my husband and was actually medically evacuated from Hanoi to Bangkok with acute appendicitis. My husband has continued to work overseas at times over the years and we been able to spend family time ranging from weeks to several months over the years in Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and South Africa.


Click here to read about other ASF scholars.

Click here to find out more about the Bankwest Foundation Community Leader Scholarship Program.


"I believe that it is important to do work that aligns with your core personal values and in working in the NFP sector it is easy to feel that you are contributing something important to the world."


ABOUT ALISON:

Alison has a background in psychology and health policy, which she regularly applies to her current role as Grants and Submissions Manager at Silver Chain Group. She has a strong interest in environmental issues and also coordinates Project Gaia - a project focused on making the organisation more environmentally friendly.

In 2014, ASF awarded Alison a scholarship to attend the WACOSS Community Sector Management Course, supported by the Bankwest Foundation, WACOSS and ASF.

ABOUT SILVER CHAIN GROUP:

Annual revenue / size:

Extra Large - more than $25m pa

Segment of NFP sector:

Health

Operating in:

WA, QLD, NSW, SA

Website:

http://www.silverchain.org.au/