Jo Gilbert, Partner in RSM's Albany office was announced as the inaugural winner of the Australian Institute of Company Directors' (AICD) Regional Director of Excellence in the Not-for-Profit sector, at AICD WA's annual dinner on 25 October 2019.
In between her professional career and juggling a young family, Jo has also been:
- Member of the Board of management of South Coast Natural Resource Management (NRM Inc)
- Member of the board of the Albany Chamber of Commerce
- Member of the AICD Great Southern Regional Committee
- Member of the audit committee of South Coast NRM Inc for 11 years, 3 of those years as chair
- Member of the finance committee of the Great Southern Grammar School
We asked Jo why she’s passionate about giving back to her local community.
You are a proud Great Southerner and have called Albany home for a long time. What keeps you there?
Both my husband and I were raised in the country and for me the Great Southern is home. It is really important for us that we also raise our two boys here and that they grow up to appreciate and advocate in their adult lives for the importance of regional Australia.
You’ve been along on the journey with South Coast NRM for over a decade, taking it from strength to strength. What has been the biggest highlight for you?
The biggest highlight for me was being elected to the Board 6 years ago having served on the Audit Committee for nearly 5 years prior to that.
What are some of the qualities that contribute to being an objective and effective NFP director?
In a regional area, we are living in the community alongside all of the stakeholders of the groups we represent on the Board. Decisions made by us can impact on the wider community and our own personal networks. Importantly as a professional who has built a career in regional WA, maintaining good governance within an organisation so that actions of the organisation do not have adverse effects on my personal and professional reputation are also critical.
What are some of the main challenges surrounding the NFP sector at the moment?
The NFP sector as a whole continues to face challenges with regard to adequate funding and resources. As well as this, some regional communities are getting smaller so the pool of eager and suitably qualified staff and directors in the sector is also a challenge. For many of those involved in the regional NFP sector, they are required to be involved in multiple community, sporting and professional organisations and committees. Volunteer fatigue is certainly becoming increasingly evident.
That’s why winning an award such as this feels like recognition for all of those I’ve served on committees and boards with over my 20 years living back in regional WA.
There are times when we feel like we can’t take on any more, but then if we don’t, who else will? Volunteers are the glue that keeps regional communities together and I’m really proud to be recognised as one, even though I’m one in a very long list of people who have contributed a lot more than me.
How do you manage your time between running an accounting practice, managing board duties/obligations and looking after a young family?
In hindsight, I actually have no idea how I have managed this! I think having an understanding family, a real passion for being involved in what I’ve been involved in and underlying all of that, a career with a firm such as RSM that have allowed me to develop as a leader within the organisation but also give something back to the community that I’ve been living in has been so important. I hope to instil a sense of responsibility in my boys as they grow older so that wherever they choose to live, they realise that everyone has to chip in and do their bit to keep the community going.