Hi, my name is Philippa Bakes and I am one of 3,500 community leadership program graduates contributing to the community across the State of Victoria. I completed the Leaders for Geelong (“LfG”) program in 2012.
I am a Chartered Accountant by background. I worked for the early part of my career in the UK, predominantly with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). I also worked with PwC in Hong Kong for two years before moving to PwC Melbourne in 2005. I helped to advise some of Australia's largest public companies on major transactions including cross border deals.
I now live in Ocean Grove and in recent years have used my experience as a consultant and mentor to advise SMEs, NFPs and private business owners in the Geelong region.
Having moved to Australia from the UK, I didn't really know anything about Geelong before I started LfG. I was still working in Melbourne but living down on the Bellarine Peninsula, and had a plan to transition down to work in the region somehow. LfG was pretty influential in me networking locally and finding a job here.
It was clear that Geelong had a number of organisations or facilities that I wasn't aware existed. The program took us on tours of local operations and gave us access to the leaders of many of the region’s key organisations. It became apparent that a lot of people are "born and bred" here compared to other cities in which I have lived before, and therefore were automatically connected. Another really useful specific learning from the program was from the interactions with so many diverse people, both in my intake group and with the presenters - it highlighted the many different ways that people can look at things.
In terms of my subsequent community involvement, I joined the board of a local not-for-profit organisation soon after completing the program and eventually took on the role of the chair. I am now a director on one of the state government appointed Waste and Resource Recovery Group boards, which is a paid board role. I have also been a member of the advisory boards to Enterprise Geelong, Upstart Challenge (schools entrepreneurial competition) and Future Proofing Geelong.
The connections I made were also a crucial factor in my decision to start my own consulting business five years ago. Having that network already established, and the introductions that came from it, was incredibly valuable.
I think I take a more integrated view of the wider community now than I did previously, when I was much more career focused. It has helped me feel more involved as a useful member of the city, but also feel more settled here as a part of the community.