Growing up in a family that has always quietly supported not-for-profits and championed the importance of community service, it was probably only a matter of time before Paul Conroy left the corporate world.
The new CEO of FareShare, says giving back to the community is in his DNA and he has Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Definition of Success stuck to the inside cover of his diary as a daily reminder of what matters.
A corporate lawyer with extensive commercial experience, Paul says completing Leadership Victoria’s Williamson Community Leadership program was another trigger for a career change. “I had to write my own obituary. It was a very interesting exercise because it forces you to think what you want to be remembered for. It makes you reflect on what’s important.”
In addition to 14 years in the wine and beer trade, Paul is the chair of the Summer Foundation, a charity committed to keeping young people with disabilities out of aged care with which he has been closely involved for 12 years.
When Paul finished his last corporate contract, FareShare was grappling with the onset of the COVID epidemic and Paul was ready to give his fulltime commitment to a charitable cause.
“As a board member, I knew FareShare. I understood the tangible and immediate nature of what it does. There was an urgent need and it felt like the right time to make the switch and give Marcus Godinho a hand.”
He joined FareShare initially as Chief Operating Officer and, at Marcus’s recommendation, took over the CEO role a year later to enable Marcus to focus on the growing challenges of development and fundraising.
“FareShare has grown exponentially in recent years on the back of a lot of people doing a lot of things – often going above and beyond. Once an organisation reaches a certain size and scope, it is no longer scalable or sustainable to keep doing that,” said Paul.
“FareShare is at a point in its maturity where we need to do things differently and place more focus on structure and processes. It’s about doing everything as well as we can. Investing in the quality of our meals and their presentation. Investing in the development of our people, our food safety, packaging, IT and HR.
“We also need to invest time into our relationships with others in the food relief sector. We can have the biggest impact when we collaborate effectively and put our collective efforts into getting the right FareShare meal into the hands of the individual who needs it. We can’t do it on our own.”
And he has no doubts he made the right decision in taking on the challenge at FareShare. “Reading the often-unsolicited feedback from our charity partners about the impact our meals have had on an individual, I find very emotional.
“The greatest measure of success is to know that all the work done by our staff and volunteers is making a real difference to someone in need of some support. When someone notices and it’s appreciated, it’s very empowering.”
Frank visits his local Mission Australia centre in Queensland daily to heat up his FareShare meal, make a cuppa and have a yarn with the staff. He enters with a contagious smile, and tells them