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Investing in leadership in the NFP sector

By Shandel McAuliffe | |5 minute read
Investing in leadership in the NFP sector

At Starlight, each decision starts with asking ourselves, “What’s best for the children and young people we support?” We are all about delivering positive experiences to brighten the lives of seriously ill children, young people, and their families.

Our ability to do this starts with a talented high performing team: one that is highly engaged, innovative, working to strengths and motivated by the positive impact of the work we do. The way we work at Starlight is built upon trusting relationships, empowerment, and accountability.

It is therefore essential we invest in our people. As any organisation that relies on the donated dollar will attest to, we carefully consider where we invest, and every dollar spent must ultimately benefit the children we support. By investing in our people and supporting their growth and career development in meaningful ways, we boost engagement and wellbeing, ensuring our people are at their best. This in turn means our programs are the best they can be.


This strengthening of capability and culture doesn’t just happen. A robust and flexible people and culture strategy is essential, especially when working towards an employment model that best aligns with the organisation’s mission.

We are also strengthening our team’s leadership capability and are committed to the idea that “we are all leaders.” Fostering a culture where all team members are supported to develop leadership skills is one that is more open, inclusive, and where we give each other feedback because we want our colleagues to be at their best.

Another capability we actively support the development of is innovation, which we define as “any change that adds value.” Equipping the team with knowledge and skills in this area is an investment in helping the team be even more flexible and adaptable. As the last few years have shown, flexibility and adaptability are critical.

Underpinning all this is the importance of strong relationships, both within the team and with everyone in the Starlight community. It is essential the team is given opportunities to build interpersonal connections, to collaborate across different organisational functions and for technology to enable more of “the human.”

At Starlight, our value is one word: we shine and we know we shine best when we shine together.

For an organisation to achieve its mission, it must invest in its people. And this is especially true for not-for-profits.

Susan Henry is the head of people and culture at Starlight Children’s Foundation Australia



Your organization's culture determines its personality and character. The combination of your formal and informal procedures, attitudes, and beliefs results in the experience that both your workers and consumers have. Company culture is fundamentally the way things are done at work.

Shandel McAuliffe

Shandel McAuliffe

Shandel has recently returned to Australia after working in the UK for eight years. Shandel's experience in the UK included over three years at the CIPD in their marketing, marcomms and events teams, followed by two plus years with The Adecco Group UK&I in marketing, PR, internal comms and project management. Cementing Shandel's experience in the HR industry, she was the head of content for Cezanne HR, a full-lifecycle HR software solution, for the two years prior to her return to Australia.

Shandel has previous experience as a copy writer, proofreader and copy editor, and a keen interest in HR, leadership and psychology. She's excited to be at the helm of HR Leader as its editor, bringing new and innovative ideas to the publication's audience, drawing on her time overseas and learning from experts closer to home in Australia.

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