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Aligning personal values with paid employment

This video tells the story of Michael, who worked for the same insurance company for 13 years, until he realised it was possible to marry employment with making a difference to people in need as the manager of Open Heart International.

Like many young people, Michael Were finished high school without a clear idea of what he wanted to do with his life. He took a job at an insurance company and what was meant to be a 12-month job to buy time, became a 13-year career with the same company.

During his career working predominately in sales and relationship management, Michael knew there was something “missing”. He wondered whether it was possible to marry passion and work together.

When the global financial crisis hit in 2008, Michael was doing volunteer work in International Development while experiencing some personal and emotional hardship, and it marked a turning point in his life.

He saw a job advertised for Manager of Open Heart International and says, “all of a sudden I was in the third interview thinking, I might get this job and I’d be really disappointed if I didn’t.”

Today, he manages the humanitarian agency which shares best surgical practice with the most disadvantaged communities in the world. Their team, which relies heavily on volunteers, brings modern surgery, training, equipment and community education to save lives in remote countries.

Having worked in 14 different countries, Michael says, “Those projects have been identified through connections and volunteers, and people who really want to champion a need that they saw.”

Michael has learnt many lessons in his role at Open Heart International. These include:

  • Extraordinary patience – “working in developing countries, the timelines and time frames are simply not what you’d expect here in Australia, so we need to work in the time frames that are realistic for the countries that we’re working in.”

  • How to work with volunteers – he has learnt to spend time with different people to understand what’s important to them and what drives them to volunteer.

After 13 years, Michael followed a calling to leave a legacy in the community. Interested in making charity your work? Start volunteering for a cause that matters to you.