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“There are jobs for the bank account and jobs for the soul.” Frankie Opie on her career journey from floristry to microfinance

People find amazing jobs on EthicalJobs.com.au every day. This is part of a series of blog posts that go behind the scenes to meet some of the people and organisations finding each other through EthicalJobs.com.au.

Todays story is from Frankie Opie who found her job as Microenterprise Development Manager at Many Rivers Microfinance on EthicalJobs.com.au.

Many Rivers supports aspiring business owners with microenterprise development support and access to finance in order to see the potential of people and communities realised – with a focus on working with Indigenous Australians. Many Rivers employs 40 Microenterprise Development Managers in 32 regions across Australia who live and work in the regions that they service – as well as a variety of people across projects and operations.

Starting out with work

After I finished at school, I had plans of going onto university, but living in a very small country town with very few resources or opportunities didn’t really allow or encourage further studies. In fact the school I went to only went up to year 10 so I had to leave home and I boarded with an elderly lady while I finished the rest of my schooling. I went onto doing the more traditional thing of doing an apprenticeship as did many of my peers at the time. For my generation there really was no expectation of going to university or further study. That’s a trend I’m really happy to see has turned around.

I worked as a junior florist and then undertook a floristry apprenticeship. That was many, many years ago, but the skills I learnt through doing that enabled me to set up my own floristry business just a few years ago.

I learnt some valuable lessons through my first job. The most important thing was to achieve success you need to work hard and smart and the dividends will pay off. It was long hard days but the skills I learnt have carried me through life. It taught me how to use my time effectively and to always be one step ahead of a client’s needs. Also basic time management skills, organisational skills, people skills – all things necessary in every career. I was lucky to have had these instilled in me way back when.

After that I had a very rewarding and long term career within the Federal Public Service. I had been working for Centrelink, and I was successful in a transfer to the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations – I worked there for about 5 years as a Senior Contract Manager. The role encompassed many different facets from contract managing Employment Service Providers, to managing the ongoing effects of redundancies within the allocated employment service areas of my portfolio.

When the 2009 Victorian Bushfires occurred, the majority of the devastation happened in my allocated region. I was heavily involved with working on rebuilding economic strategies and resources for the communities that had not only lost so many homes but also their source of income through loss of business and employment. Working in these communities, helping them redevelop their towns and livelihoods gave me my first taste of working with communities and the impact that can have on you. A really positive impact.

After doing that for about 2 intensive years I felt I needed to step away and do something for myself,although I was still really drawn to working with communities. That was when I decided to open my own business being a small florist shop. I was able to use the training and education I received 25 years prior to grow an idea from scratch to what was a well-received and successful small business. When I was in the planning phase I gave myself a 5 year plan to build it up strong and fast and to sell it within that time frame which is exactly what I did. I learnt skills and attributes through doing that which helps me immensely in my day to day work at the moment.

I am so grateful for the different career paths I have had in the past as they have all culminated to bring me to where I am today and the lessons I have learned from each one, I believe has been essential to what I do and how I do it for my clients now.

Working at Many Rivers Microfinance

Many Rivers is a notfor-profit organisation that works with people who are experiencing some form of disadvantage, to help change their lives. We work with all Australians but have a very strong focus on working with Indigenous Australians as well.

We work with people who have a business idea, or might already be in business, and we offer ongoing business advice, mentoring, access to small loans and basically everything else a small business needs to be viable and sustainable. Our services are provided free of charge to the client for the life of the business. Its an invaluable service and to think that this is being offered for the life of someone’s business is amazing.

I often think what I could have accomplished in my business if I could have had access to something like Many Rivers. I’m just in a really good position to be able to share what I learnt through starting up my business and from my government background to help others navigate through their own business journey.

I just remember seeing the ad for Many Rivers on EthicalJobs.com.au and thought it sounded interesting. I called the Many Rivers contact person for more information and from that first phone call I felt like it was the right fit for me. I’ve never looked back and I’ve been with Many Rivers now for three years. I’m based in Bendigo, Victoria and I service the communities within Central Victoria.

Why work for a better world?

There are jobs for the bank account and jobs for the soul. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve always had a strong desire to work within communities and I’m at a stage in my life where I have the resources and the inner drive and desire to give back to people who are not as fortunate.

I have held secure, very high paying roles in the past but after a while I no longer found them to be motivational, challenging or rewarding. Working for a not-for-profit organisation is something different. I know at Many Rivers we get to see real, tangible and life changing results with our clients.

The personal satisfaction when you can see an individual, family and in the long run a community grow and prosper makes up for not earning the big dollars, it makes up for it 20 times over. After all, I live in this community.  I want to see my community be successful and resilient, so if what I do in my working life can have a positive influence on that, then I think that’s a win win.

If you want to work at an NFP like Many Rivers, get a good balance of career and life experiences. Be prepared to be challenged and accept that being challenged is a great way to grow within yourself.

Don’t ever give up. If you have a not for profit or organisation in mind that you would been interested in working with, reach out to them. Get as much information you can on the work they do within the community and the ongoing effects of what they do. If they offer the chance to do volunteer work jump at it, it will give you a really good insight into how things might be if you worked there. Even volunteering within the community can really help.

Keep up to date with EthicalJobs.com.au – your ideal job could be just around the corner.

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