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Why switch to the NFP sector? Save the Children’s Shelley Zappulla shares her journey from the the corporate world

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.

Today’s story is from Shelley Zappulla, who found her job as the PA to the Director (Supporter Engagement) at Save the Children Australia on EthicalJobs.com.au. Save the Children is one of Australia’s leading aid and development agencies dedicated to helping children, employing almost 1,000 staff in diverse areas from family services to international development and finance.

Hi Shelley, thanks so much for your time! To start us off, tell us about your first ever paid job

Wow, that feels like a long time ago now! My first ever paid job was as a waitress at Moonee Valley Racing Club when I was still in high school. I served food in the dining rooms during functions and on race days, which were generally on Friday nights and weekends.

Working in a commercial kitchen is a very interesting and rewarding experience – the pressure and pace to feed a huge, hungry crowd is intense! I feel that having a customer service based role as my first job was such a great foundation for my work life to date.

Tell us about your education – what did you study after high school?

I studied a little bit in hospitality when I first left high school, but quickly realised that learning on the job was a better fit for me. So I went out into the workforce quite soon after school.

It was only in the past five years that I felt a strong desire to go back to the classroom to learn, so I signed up for some part-time study in human resources.

Finishing that diploma completely opened up the possibility of working in HR and allowed me to apply for a HR role with confidence, which was a really great step in my career for me.

So how did you go from there to working at Save the Children?

From early on in my career, I worked predominantly in administration and reception roles, over many different industries. More recently, I spent about five years as an executive assistant at PricewaterhouseCoopers, before moving internally into a junior role in HR.

I spent a couple of years learning and growing in that role, then received a promotion into a HR business partner role. It was such an amazing learning experience for me and I was so grateful to have received a promotion.

What made me think of looking for the next step in my career was that I felt deep down that the corporate environment was just not quite right for me.

How did you first come across EthicalJobs.com.au?

I knew I wanted a change from corporate, and I knew I wanted to move to something like the not-for-profit sector, but I was not really finding the right types of roles and organisations on the usual job sites. So, I actually just googled something like ‘not-for-profit jobs’ and EthicalJobs.com.au came up! I didn’t bother go back to the other sites after that!

So what does Save the Children actually do?

Save the Children focuses not only on providing funding and emergency responses to crises overseas, but also offers programs to help improve the lives of children in Australia as well. The programs are most often accessed by those in remote areas who are at risk of health issues, family violence or unable to access education.

Save the Children also brings important issues facing children into the spotlight for government and the public through policy papers and tireless advocacy work.

Once I saw the role available at Save the Children, I just knew my values aligned with this organisation, and the role and the organisation felt like the perfect fit for me!

Tell us about what your role at Save the Children involves . . .

I am back in an administration role, working as a personal assistant to the director of the Supporter Engagement team.

This team is responsible for all marketing and fundraising efforts for Save the Children nationally, so Jo (the director) is a very busy woman and I am there to help support her.

Many people who work for community organisations know they could proabably earn a more lucrative salary in the public or private sector. What has motivated you to work in the not-for-profit sector?

The feeling of contributing to a great cause more than makes up for the financial difference for me. Alignment of my values to the organisation I work with is very important to me, and it is the piece I feel that has been missing in my career so far. Salary just can’t make up that difference for me.

And just finally, what advice would you give to the many ethical jobseekers who dream of a landing a job like yours?

Keep up the search! It took me a little while to find the perfect fit, but I signed up for the job alerts from EthicalJobs.com.au and regularly checked the website for new roles that were posted. It was totally worth it in the end because I found the right organisation and the right job for me.

Thanks so much, Shelley!

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