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Meet the woman behind World Vision

It is going to be a big year for Claire Rogers.

It is going to be a big year for new World Vision boss Claire Rogers, who took over from long-serving CEO Tim Costello in November.

Her first action was to head straight to Myanmar to see first-hand the work of the organisation and assess its impact for herself.

“I wanted to be able to describe to our supporters exactly how and why their investment in the communities we work with makes a difference … nothing quite prepares you for seeing the impact of the work first hand. I was blown away by the quality, impact and innovation in World Vision’s field work. What I saw was outstanding, transforming and empowering communities.

“Once I was back at headquarters in Melbourne, it was about getting to know everyone, encouraging an open and transparent culture through lots of opportunities to meet the team and hear about the business.”

Rogers, who was previously one of the Australian finance sector’s leaders of digital transformation, says one of the surprises of her first three months was that she still felt like a banker.

Banking in action

“It is not well known, but through our subsidiary Vision Fund, World Vision is one of the largest microfinance organisations in the world. This very successful program supports economic livelihoods, and it was a delight to see the power of banking in action addressing poverty head on.”

Rogers will draw upon her experience in helping organisations adapt to tech-disrupted change by focussing on building a “high-performing, agile supporter-centred culture that is delivering growth in the field”.

“For World Vision, this means finding new ways of engaging our supporters into the 21st century,” she says. “Our organisation, like all NGOs, has purpose in spades. There’s never an issue with the why – but how can we best communicate that wonderful, rich capability to those who would and do support us?

“This is a challenge and an opportunity. It’s an exciting time. I’m delighted to be involved in that transformation of the sector from fundraising to impact management and social contracts.”

Rogers knows people love current information that is visual, engaging and readily accessible, and sees this the way forward.

Making a difference

“We have an exciting opportunity here to build a new generation of supporters, and new means available to show them how their investment and generosity and care can really make a difference to millions of vulnerable children around the globe. There’s evidence that younger generations are passionate about social change, and making the world a better place – and we can help them do that, and show them the result as well.

“We’ll also be upping the pace of change and using customer design and testing and rapid delivery to market – often called “agile” – to drive us forward quickly. I anticipate that our move into digital will transform our face-to-face experiences.”

World Vision is already trialling virtual reality in retail centres, which Rogers says is making people feel more “connected” with the field.

Looking beyond this year, Rogers hopes to continue the work Costello achieved in his 13-year tenure. “Tim has spoken about infant mortality having halved during his tenure. World Vision, along with the UN and other agencies, has played a key part in that. I’d like to carry on that vision and connect the generous hearts of Australians to those in conflict, and those enduring poverty or humanitarian disasters without access to the health, nutrition, education and livelihood we take for granted.

“We can all be powerful change makers. For me personally, knowing that my skills can help change oppressed and vulnerable lives gives my daily work an edge it’s never had before.”

This article was originally part of the Movers & Shakers feature in Third Sector’s March print mag.

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