Scholar Profile - Mario Gomes PDF Print E-mail
Mario Gomes


Business Development & Marketing Manager at Holyoake

Awarded a scholarship for University of Melbourne's Managing Innovation course, September 2013

What sort of work does your organisation do?

Founded in 1975, Holyoake is a leading provider of alcohol and drug treatment services. Our mission is to empower individuals and families impacted by substance misuse. We reach out to over 5,000 people a year with a non-judgemental approach in a safe and caring environment. 

As an innovative organisation, we constantly explore ways to improve social outcomes while ensuring our financial sustainability. We have successful social enterprises such as DRUMBEAT and Wellbeing@Work. We are also developing innovative initiatives such as a socially responsible video game and app, and online facilitator training.

Describe a typical day's work.

My role covers business development, marketing, and fundraising. I am also a member of Holyoake’s Senior Management Team. No two days are alike as I juggle the diversity of sales calls, relationship management, marketing, promotions, funding, and management.

Holyoke offers a wide range of excellent programs for people of all ages and circumstances. Over 3.5 million Australians are seriously and negatively impacted by alcohol alone. A big part of my role is to raise the awareness of Holyoake as a proven solution. We created a multi-media campaign to help achieve this despite a limited budget and resources.

In my business development capacity, I helped develop and now manage our Wellbeing@Work suite of corporate programs. This social enterprise has been well received; many organisations have already experienced the benefits of our holistic, self-responsible and wellbeing approach.

What were some of the key learnings from the Managing Innovation course?

The Managing Innovation course was very useful with practical frameworks on which we can continue to build Holyoake’s social enterprise and social innovation initiatives. The professors - Danny Samson and Colin McLeod - shared valuable tools and guidelines to manage innovation from ideation to commercialisation. They peppered their presentations with successful examples and case studies.

Some of the topics that stood out included: systematic innovation capability, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, 8 tests of innovation, value creation, open innovation, change management, innovation diagnostics (customer, portfolio, competitor), and business model innovation.

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

Holyoake is keen to achieve better social outcomes while ensuring our long term financial sustainability. Creative thinking is now part of our systematic innovation capability. Our CEO, Board and Senior Management Team support social enterprise, social innovation and social impact measurement.

The Managing Innovation course has given us valuable tools and frameworks to strengthen and grow our initiatives. We are better informed about evaluating innovative concepts and managing them from ideation to commercialisation.

We believe effective collaboration between the NFP sector, government, foundations, philanthropists and the corporate sector can achieve better social outcomes. The open innovation model further highlights the efficacy of this approach.

The course also focused on the importance of establishing rigor to the process of innovation. The discipline of moving ideas from the ‘Newstream’ phase to the ‘Mainstream’ phase is very insightful.

Change is the essence of innovation. The course emphasised the importance of managing change effectively within organisations. This is particularly relevant to us as we convince our staff about the importance of ensuring our financial sustainability without compromising on our social mission.

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

My journey to the NFP sector is quite interesting. Following a successful career in advertising and marketing for over 15 years, I reached a stage when I felt drawn to giving back to the community in a more tangible way.

After much thought and deliberation, I took a giant leap of faith and switched to community services in 2008, and haven’t looked back since.

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

I believe effective collaboration could help the NPF sector improve social outcomes substantially. In the current environment of funding cuts, organisations could pool their expertise and resources to reduce costs and increase impact.

The NFP sector could also benefit from a more creative and innovative approach to help manage social issues. The move towards social enterprise and social innovation is very encouraging. Scores of excellent examples across Australia prove that an innovative approach with a financially sustainable model can be a win-win situation for all concerned.

What is something interesting / unique / unusual about you?

I was honoured to be invited by Edith Cowan University to be the Occasional Speaker for their graduation ceremony in February 2010. It was a memorable experience as I spoke about my personal and professional journey. It was an opportunity to encourage the young graduates to give back to the community - no matter what career paths they had charted for themselves.

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"We are better informed about evaluating innovative concepts and managing them from ideation to commercialisation."


After a successful career in advertising and marketing for over 20 years in Dubai and Australia, Mario switched to community services in 2008. Following two years as Team Leader with Mission Australia, he took on his current role as Business Development & Marketing Manager at Holyoake in 2011.

In 2013 ASF awarded Mario a scholarship for University of Melbourne’s Managing Innovation course, an intensive 2-day program focussing on creating value for yourself and your organisation using the powerful and practical tool of innovation management..


Annual revenue / size:

Large - $5m - $25m pa

Segment of NFP sector:

Social Services

Operating in: