Leadership Q&A with David Cooke



Leadership is a journey and leaders need to keep themselves fresh, what do you do to ensure that you continue to grow and develop as a leader?


We live in an age where information and knowledge are more accessible than ever before, therefore fresh ideas exist in abundance and are there for the taking. So I think staying fresh is not so much about new ideas as about always staying totally open to those new ideas and to change. I find always challenging the status quo is important and finishing every day asking myself the question: “what difference did I make today?”


What will you be speaking on at the Better Boards Conference?


A critical area of ensuring the sustainability and effectiveness of any not-for-profit organisation is fundraising, and corporations are a good source of funds. Several years ago I completed a doctoral research study into why corporations give. Understanding their motivation is critical to maximising fundraising. My presentation is based on this research and will draw on my own experience of forming close long-term partnerships with a number of not-for-profit organisations as the Australian managing director of a global IT company. I would like to discuss what I believe are some of the critical points to bear in mind when initially approaching a profit-making corporation as well as what tend to be some of the key ingredients for ensuring a successful relationship.


What is the key thing that leaders need to keep in mind when they are looking to re-think/re-invent/re-launch their organisation?


As regards garnering corporate support, I think the key shift in mindset is to stand in the other party’s shoes and answer the question that will be on their mind: “what’s in it for me?” This involves a considerable re-think because an appointment with a potential donor organisation is no longer about you, your organisation or the great work that you do. It becomes about what challenges the potential donor is facing and how you might be able to help them via the formation of a long-term partnership.


David Cooke is the opening keynote speaker on CEO’s Day at the Better Boards, 1-3 August, 2014 in Adelaide


Dr David Cooke was awarded a doctorate in 2009 for his study entitled The Philanthropic Contract: building social capital through corporate social investment. This study dealt with Australian companies who have successfully developed corporate social investment programs as a means of building social capital. Valuable evidence emerged for non-profit organisations that in order to maximise support from the corporate sector a business case needs to be developed that focuses on a return on investment for the corporation, not on an appeal to altruism. He is also the Managing Director of Konica Minolta in Australia, a global Japanese technology company, and he has applied his learnings to this organisation with extremely positive results.

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Better Boards Australasia connects the leaders of Australasian non-profit organisations to the knowledge and networks necessary to grow and develop their leadership skills and build a strong governance framework for their organisation.

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