Scholar Profile - Lachlan Cooke PDF Print E-mail
Lachlan Cooke


CEO at Indigenous Communities Education & Awareness (ICEA) Foundation

Awarded a scholarship for Harvard Club of Australia's Non-Profit Leadership Program, 2014

What sort of work does your organisation do?

ICEA’s purpose is; “reconciliation Inspired by young people”. ICEA drives this purpose through creating safe and inclusive environments about creating positive and safe environments for young people to come together and develop positive Experiences to connect with Aboriginal People, Culture and Country, these experiences then foster strong and meaningful Relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people, developing into a deep Understanding of Australia’s Aboriginal People, Country and Culture.

Describe a typical day's work.

Being a youth run and driven organisation our strategic tradeoff is that we are not very structured with meetings generally speaking… as our young people typical day is all over the place juggling uni, study, girl/boy commitments etc…  Anyway we are developing stronger mechanisms to manage this negative tradeoff as the benefits by far out way this semi chaos! I will either have team meetings between 7am-9am or 4pm – 8pm as these hours generally are best for the leading volunteers. The operational staff we meet generally accumulating 2 admin days then 2 stakeholder days a week then events on the weekend ranging from camps to full day events. I am engaged with other advocacy work for young people and Aboriginal affairs that I throw in at least 1-2hrs a day to keep on top of things.

What were some of the key learnings from the Non-Profit Leadership program?

The big take home for me is being aware and embracing the strategic trade off, trying to be a jack of all trades does not work in the organisations best interests to achieving the most productive outcomes. Leading with the vision of ICEA and being exceptional at a couple of things is going to be where ICEA can truly have its greatest impact.

There were many other learnings that I will take on board from each case study though the strategic trade off highlighted in the Narayana Hrudayalaya Heart hospital case study has been the most influential.

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

The course has made me clearer of how successful organisations really are the way they are, giving me the motivation along with the toolbox of skills and knowledge to now take into action in my own workplace.

The way professor Felix Oberholzer-Gee managed the sessions allowed for a high degree of interaction amongst the delegates which cemented the experiences into our minds. These conversations with other executive leaders for me as an executive leader amplified the teachings additionally which I saw as a huge benefit.

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

I was given the opportunity to travel to remote communities throughout Australia in the form of a youth leadership program which opened my mind up to the inequality in our community. The NFP organisations I engaged with on these visits I saw creating such positive opportunities for community members and I remember strongly feeling that the NFP sector was the best way to create positive social change. Over the years I have become more aware that the NFP sector is a crucial pillar to sustainable development globally, though not exclusively, as collaboration with Government and for-profit sector is crucial to sustainable development. The Harvard professor further supported this idea through the discussions on combinations in the business model and product design.

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

More opportunities for teaching in the area of Shared Value and the collective approach to shared outcomes in the sector. I think it is naturally starting to happen as the sector is experiencing many challenges however there are more opportunities for people to come together to discuss and develop ideas on how to progress these conversations to shared outcomes with practical steps and processes for organisations to take onboard.

What is something interesting / unique / unusual about you?

I am a non-Indigenous Australian Adopted by the Ejai family in the One Arm Point community on the Dampier peninsula, Kimberley. My Skin name is Binjalli. I also was in the Australian Sprint Kayaking team and AIS development squad from 2009-2012 competing throughout Europe and the US.

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"I remember strongly feeling that the NFP sector was the best way to create positive social change."


Lachlan Cooke has been CEO of ICEA since 2006. He is also the Founder of the organisation, which focuses on reconciliation through young people. In 2013 he completed a commerce degree majoring in investment finance, corporate finance, and financial accounting from UWA.

Mid-2014, ASF awarded Lachlan one of five scholarships to attend the Harvard Club of Australia’s Non-Profit Leadership Program.


Annual revenue / size:

Medium - $250,000 - $5m pa

Segment of NFP sector:

Culture & Recreation, Education & Research

Operating in: