Cincom presents: Leadership in 2021 – Belinda Dimovski, Australian Red Cross

We spoke with Belinda Dimovski, Director of Engagement and Support at the Australian Red Cross, to talk about her journey to the top of a prominent NFP.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and what brought you to this role at the Australian Red Cross?

Early in my career, I realized I was a bit unusual – I could translate things. I worked with IT teams and translated what they needed for marketing teams, and worked with marketing teams and was able to engage them in a conversation around analytics in a simple way that made sense. Working at Optus in call center and B2B roles exposed me to the machinations of corporate life.

At Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, I did my MBA in the field, moving from IT to Operations, Supply Chain and finally Sales Director. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn all the elements of a well-functioning global organization.

My time at Weight Watchers allowed me to combine all the roles I have played into one. I was responsible for customer experience and operations across ANZ; including supply chain, PMO, L + D, customer service and has led global initiatives around digital transformation, while being involved in the global management of product delivery.

The amazing thing about working for a nonprofit is the passionate people who work in the industry; the ability to make a difference and support people when they need it most.

During COVID, how did you deal with mass communication in order to make the transition a success?

Consumers are exposed to a huge amount of media. During COVID, we tried to really understand what people care about when we need to stand out or support other people’s posts. It is important that mass communication is relevant, timely and interesting. Direct communication works when you add value to people.

Personalization is our goal, to show people that we are listening to them and that we understand their needs. During COVID, we asked our supporters what they think our role should be. We also developed specific products based on their feedback and called each of our 80,000 regular subscribers just to ask how they were doing.

Did the Red Cross use other methods to overcome your biggest hurdles during COVID?

We launched a new brand campaign and a new tone of voice; we launched My Red Cross to help with personalization. We introduced the PAFFA (Public Affairs and Advocacy) team and support ongoing publications regarding bushfire reports. We are currently conducting a strategic review and examining the vision, mission and culture changes required in this new era of engagement.

The organization is driven by its mission, rather than the bottom line or the interests of shareholders. Does this present a different set of motivators that are not present in the private sector?

We are held to the highest possible standards by people in the community – higher than governments or businesses. The Red Cross is held to higher standards than other NFPs due to its size, background, history, global reach, volunteers and membership base. The community is invested in our work and our results. It can be difficult, but it’s a strength – it reflects the depth of community trust, which is at the heart of everything we do. It is also a highly regulated industry, so we work closely together to ensure compliance, mitigate risk while passing the ‘pub test’.

We are an organization made up of members and volunteers who are passionate about our purpose and to that end their voices are stronger than those of any shareholder.

The amazing thing about working for a nonprofit is the passionate people who work in the industry; the ability to make a difference and support people when they need it most.

What makes a successful CEO / executive in the NFP industry?

(Hire) someone who has worked in the industry seems like the right choice because then you can assume a basic level of understanding. However, this begs the question: How do we encourage divergent thinking in organizations if we always hire people whose only exposure is within the same industry?

Customers expect every organization to deliver an amazing experience. Our competition is no longer just in our industry. To make sure we can meet changing expectations, we need to apply the same metrics for success. At the Red Cross, we do this without selling a product that could cover the cost of PCI compliance or a cybersecurity review or the cost of marketing, our warehouse, or staff. Everything we do is due to the trust that the community and the public have in us. So, yes, the state of mind, motivation, and the ability to think differently are all essential. Ultimately, in the NFP industry, you need resilience.

There is an opportunity to make a meaningful impact on people’s lives and it takes more than anything hard work and loving what you do. We are in people’s business.

Does working in the NFP sector attract a different caliber of candidates for leadership positions? Is it a question of state of mind and motivation?

Making sure your values ​​match the values ​​of the organization is key. Don’t think of it in terms of the sector, think of it in terms of the impact you can have.

At the Australian Red Cross, we have gone through a period of significant change. We have moved to a client-centric fundraising approach, we have developed a storytelling approach for marketing, and we have undergone operational changes in our first aid and retail operations.

We have an agile approach to work in place – across the entire engagement and support team, supporting our customer service team to deliver an exceptional experience. We have a partnership team that seeks to engage with business and governments to support the work in progress, and a team of volunteer data scientists who keep us working smarter.

The range of skills required to achieve all of our results is vast. We work to help the organization achieve its goal – to support and empower vulnerable people and communities by harnessing the power of humanity.

What are your management methods?

I believe in feedback, I have an open door policy, I encourage people to voice their opinions and I hold them accountable for the quality of the work provided. By joining the Red Cross, I understood that change was necessary, but I also recognized that I had to earn my stripes.

I spent time with the team, held workshops, used GROW coaching, covered difficult conversation skills, and encouraged open learning of leadership models for everyone. I demonstrated that I did not know everything, that I was learning continuously and that they could take this opportunity to learn with me.

About six months into my role, I asked my team for feedback on a meeting – everything was positive, but I wasn’t looking for that. I rephrased my question and asked, “What could I have done better?” As the team started to feel comfortable giving me feedback, we created a culture of feedback and used it to improve leadership for the entire organization.

Finally, are there any specific activities or campaigns that you would like to highlight?

I want to thank our generous donors and supporters – it is thanks to you that this is all happening. If the people reading this want to donate, it’s easy and your money will make a difference.

Cincom presents this series of articles.

Cincom is a global organization dedicated to creating software solutions that help businesses succeed. With their innovative software and focus on relationship building, they pride themselves on enhancing your brand, enabling you to deliver a better experience to your potential customers and partners.

A key characteristic of leadership is effective communication, and Cincom’s customer communication management (CCM) solution, Eloquence, has helped many organizations achieve better customer experiences through better communications.

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