Caitlin Pearson never intended to work in the charity or not-for-profit sector but her time at Griffith University played a big part in changing her philosophy.
The General Manager of Marketing and Engagement at Macarthur Disability Services (MDS) is the winner of Griffith Business Schools Young Alumnus of the Year Award for 2018, and she says she is where she is today because of her time at the University.
“It’s really interesting, looking back now and I can definitely see the volunteering I was encouraged to do while at Griffith University has probably sparked that interest in doing volunteer work and getting involved at a community level,” she explains. “And I think then that sort of pushed me in this direction towards working in the charity and not-for-profit space.”
In addition to her work for MDS, Caitlin is heavily involved with charities in general, which she says is extremely important to her on both a personal and professional level. “I volunteer on a lot of charity boards, and I do a bit of work with the local council around accessibility and inclusion of people with disabilities, too.
“And I do think that’s all linked back to previous experience I had in volunteering at Griffith. It’s made me have some sort of internal feel-good connection that I wanted to continue to explore!”
A typical day working for MDS— an organisation supporting more than 1000 people with disabilities and/or mental health issues, including their carers and families— sees Caitlin overseeing the planning of internal and external events and functions to raise much needed funds for the cause. “No two days are the same,” she says. “And I really feel like I am making a difference… I know that’s a cliche thing to say but I go to some of the events that I organise and I stand back and I think, “Wow there are 500 people here that are having an amazing day and an amazing experience and my work contributed to that.
“It’s really powerful, you feel like you’ve done something really worthwhile.”
In addition to her GBS Young Alumnus of the Year Award for 2018, Caitlin was also recently named CEO Magazine’s Not For Profit Executive of the Year Award in recognition of her sponsorship and branding strategy which led to MDS boosting their fundraising revenue by 50 per cent.
Having worked her way up from Junior Events Planner to General Manager of Marketing and Engagement, the Bachelor of Business graduate says many of the experiences she had while at Griffith have shaped the way she does business.
“I picked Griffith because I was really interested in a lot of the extracurricular activities and programs they had… while I was there I got to do a lot of their internships and work experience.
“I was also involved with the Honours College as well and they also pushed a lot of volunteering opportunities my way, which became really important to me.
“Already academically Griffith is amazing, but it’s those things such as the Honours College that set it apart. You get the opportunity to practise your public speaking and build your confidence and networking skills… they’re all things I use on a daily basis in my job now,” she explains.
She continues: “Whenever I tell people I studied at Griffith they are always so impressed! I’m proud to have gone to a uni with such a good reputation. I also follow what other students from Griffith are doing and I am proud to see their achievements; it’s nice to be in this big family of students that are going out and doing awesome things in the world.”
Caitlin says she was really shocked and thrilled to win the GBS Outstanding Young Alumnus Award. “I guess for me it is an acknowledgement that the work I am doing is important and valued and people see that when they see the contribution I am making to my local community. So yeah for me that’s a nice little pat on the back.”