Clare O'Connor - Scholar Profile PDF Print E-mail
Clare O'Connor

CLARE O'CONNOR

Learning Program State Manager at Ronald McDonald House Charities

Awarded a Bankwest Foundation / ECU scholarship for the Graduate Certificate in Business, 2016


What sort of work does your organisation do?

Imagine living in regional WA and at a moment’s notice you have to relocate your life to a city hundreds, perhaps thousands of kilometres away from your family and friends, your entire support network. Add to that, your child has been diagnosed with a serious or life threatening illness and you're not sure how long you'll be away for. In a city hours from home, where you know no one, where do you turn for a place to stay, not only for yourself, but for your entire family? Your income has been put on hold but you still have bills to pay. As a parent, you need to provide for your family and support them through the rollercoaster journey of childhood illness.

That’s where Ronald McDonald House steps in, providing free accommodation to families when they have to travel far from home to obtain specialist medical care for their sick child. Though there is no place like home, Ronald McDonald House Perth strives to provide a safe and comfortable environment where the whole family can stay and thrive together for the duration of their child’s treatment.

Describe a typical day's work.

ATHE RONALD McDONALD LEARNING PROGRAM

I manage the Ronald McDonald Learning Program in Western Australia. The Ronald McDonald Learning Program offers free school tuition for children recovering from serious illnesses to catch up on their missed education. Our team of over 100 qualified tutors and allied health professionals work with children from all over WA and this support starts once a child is well enough to attend school and can make the most of the tuition. On a typical day, I receive tutor paperwork and invoices, we maintain our caseload of over 170 students and meet with schools, families and tutors to advocate for children with a serious illness in the education system.

THE WORK OF HEART IN-HOUSE EDUCATION PROGRAM

I also manage the in-house education program in Ronald McDonald House Perth. As well as keeping families close, our House aims to support ‘normal’ life for our families wherever possible. The Learning Centre at Ronald McDonald House Perth keeps students on track with their education during their stay here. But perhaps even more importantly than that; it brings them routine and social interaction - helping them through what can be an incredibly confusing and stressful time.

What are some of the key learnings from the Graduate Certificate in Business?

I learnt a great deal about Global Leadership and the challenges we are faced with in a VUCA world, I learnt about Marketing and the basic concepts of that as well as Finance, Economics and Accounting. All areas that are vital to know in order to make advancements in my career within the NFP sector.

How has it impacted / changed / benefited your role and your organisation as a whole?

It has impacted my role greatly within the organisation. I now have the confidence to grow my role into a Learning and Development role, which will ultimately impact the entire organisation as well as improve individual competencies.

How did you come to be working in the not-for-profit sector?

I began my career in politics in the UK and Europe, then moved on into teaching Languages and Politics in a challenging inner city Secondary School.  I moved on to specialise in teaching children with Special Educational Needs as well as leading Professional Development for teachers. After ten years in the education sector, I decided to move to Australia, and initially trained to teach adults English, with a view to working with refugee families. However, fate intervened and I saw an advertisement for an educational specialist with a wide variety of skills and experiences online, went to meet a team of amazing people and joined the Ronald McDonald House Charities team in January 2013. It is without a doubt the most rewarding job I have ever had and I feel incredibly lucky to be part of the charity and their mission.

What do you feel is most needed to sustain and build the impact of the not-for-profit sector?

The challenge for individual Not for Profit organisations moving forward will be having the ability to track current, emerging and future value demands in an ever-changing world, embracing technological advances and fundamentally thinking outside of the box and adapting business models to meet those value demands and mission better than anyone else can.

What is something interesting / unique / unusual about you?

I am quite creative and have a passion for the 1920s and Art Deco, I even have an online alter-ego called Art Deco Gal. I also love jazz, boxing and art. I had my first art exhibition this year and I speak a number of languages. By indulging this creative side of me, I feel I have a good balance in life!


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"It is without a doubt the most rewarding job I have ever had and I feel incredibly lucky to be part of the charity and their mission."


ABOUT CLARE:

Clare is the State Manager for the Ronald McDonald Learning Program, with over 10 years of experience in teaching, coaching, professional development facilitation and language instruction. She was recently recognised for her contribution to the Learning Program with a Ronald McDonald House Charities National Award.

In 2016, ASF awarded Clare a Bankwest Foundation scholarship to complete Edith Cowan University's Graduate Certificate in Business.

ABOUT RMHC:

Annual revenue / size:

Medium - $250,000 - $5m pa

Segment of NFP sector:

Employment, Development & Housing

Operating in:

WA

Website:

https://www.rmhc.org.au