Scholar Profile - Keryn Thomas PDF Print E-mail
Keryn Thomas

KERYN THOMAS

Volunteer Operations Manager at The Smith Family

Awarded a scholarship for Herbert Smith Freehills' HR for NFP’s – Understanding Current Issues Workshop, 2014


What sort of work does your organisation do?

The Smith Family works with young people in need, helping them to fully participate in their education so that they can create better futures for themselves and break the cycle of disadvantage.

We start this work when children are young and we support them all the way through their education. We also assist their parents so that they can help their children to stay engaged with their schooling.

Describe a typical day's work.

I manage a national group of staff who recruit, train and manage a team of 250 volunteers who support the administration of scholarships and work on a variety of program activities. During the 2013/14 financial year these incredible volunteers have contributed an enormous 29,363 hours and without them The Smith Family wouldn’t be able to achieve its vital work in community.

With a helicopter view across the organisation I can identify opportunities to enhance organisational capacity by providing the volunteer team’s resources.

On any given day I can meet with individual team members for support, appraisals and planning, or focus on developing team strategy, setting, managing and maintaining budgets, informing program scoping and development, or leading and contributing to process reviews. Each day is very different and I really thrive on the variety the role brings.

What are some of the key learnings from the HR for NFP’s – Understanding Current Issues Workshop?

It was good to have the opportunity through this course to develop my understanding of overarching legislation relating to HR themes. The topics were managing ill/injured workers, unfair dismissal and managing complaints from staff. I found it really helpful that there were a number of case studies to review as part of this course which were detailed scenarios that provided action steps for management of staff members returning to work after an injury or illness.

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

I believe my understanding through the learnings of this course has improved my confidence and have empowered me to better embrace many aspects of staff management that form a large part of my role.

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

After years of travel overseas on my return to Australia I was determined to pursue an opportunity where I was able to feel like I was making a difference whilst giving back to the community. I’ve been incredibly fortunate over recent years to have the opportunity to work for two not-for-profit organisations who are making a lasting difference to people in Australian communities.

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

Given the current and future political and fundraising landscape, I believe now more than ever that collaboration across the not-for-profit sector is critical to build the capacity and to ensure we are equipped to make a lasting difference to Australian communities.

Sharing resources and knowledge across the sector will prove invaluable in allowing not-for-profit organisations to operate sustainable business models, maximise growth, reach full potential and avoid wasting limited resources on reinventing policy/tools/resources already developed outside of their business.

What is something interesting / unique / unusual about you?

My one year old French bulldog Florence, brings me so much joy with her adorable (squishy) face. I recently enjoyed taking her to her first squishy faced play date with over 30 other squish faced dogs, the power of the combined squishy faced dog cuteness was overwhelming!


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"Given the current and future political and fundraising landscape, I believe now more than ever that collaboration across the not-for-profit sector is critical to build the capacity and to ensure we are equipped to make a lasting difference to Australian communities."


ABOUT KERYN:

Karyn is an experienced Volunteer & People Manager with skills gained in multi-sector industry. She is passionate about people and making a contribution. Keryn has worked at The Smith Family since 2009 in various roles, currently as their Volunteer Operations Manager.

In 2014, ASF awarded Keryn a scholarship to attend Herbert Smith Freehills' 'HR for NFP’s – Understanding Current Issues' Workshop.

ABOUT THE SMITH FAMILY:

Annual revenue / size:

Extra Large - more than $25m pa

Segment of NFP sector:

Education & Research

Operating in:

Australia-wide

Website:

https://www.thesmithfamily.com.au/