Alumni Profile - Keith Perkin
14 June 2011 By Stefan Grun
Keith Perkin (WCLP ’92) is CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters. After many years in the private sector, he has jumped ship and moved across to the not-for-profit sector.
What makes a good leader?
The ability to inspire individuals to achieve more than they would on their own.
Leadership is usually attributed to CEOs and people in government. Can you tell us about an ‘every day’ leader whom you admire?
Often a strong leader emerges or appears to shine in specific circumstances. I think those to be admired are those who have led an organisation over a long period of time or through a variety of different circumstances and we usually don’t hear too much about them!
What do you like about your job?
The knowledge that the matches made within Big Brothers Big Sisters bring about a life changing difference for both our Littles and also our Bigs.
What do you love?
Hearing the stories of how lives have been turned around.
What attracted you to Leadership Victoria and what did you gain from your experience?
Way back in 1992 when I did the program, I had just returned from overseas secondment with BP. I had been out of Australia for just on 6 years. I had a high appreciation for the world of international commerce but almost no appreciation for my community or even life outside a big corporate. The program really opened my eyes to a whole set of new experiences.
How has your leadership style evolved? What lessons have you learnt?
I believe I have learnt to listen more (my wife may not agree with that…) I also spend a lot more time considering options rather than acting impulsively.
How are the skills you developed through the program transferred to other areas of your life?
I gained a much better appreciation of the not for profit sector through the program and now find myself working in it! I also gained a greater appreciation of the arts which has altered how we spend our leisure time.
It’s often said that there is a ‘magic’ about LV programs, can you define that magic for us?
I have had 13 years based in Sydney (returned to Melbourne 18 months ago). During that time it was great to catch up with Sydney based alumni. In addition we had involvement with the establishment of Leadership Sydney and running the Board Orientation Series with Leadership Sydney. The excitement and energy felt while interacting with colleagues from both programs does create the magic.
Did you make any lasting connections with others in the program?
I did have links to other alumni while in Sydney and I have attended some of my year reunions.
Are you still involved in the community, what are you doing now?
As CEO for Big Brothers Big Sisters I am obviously active in the Not For Profit space. I am also currently Chair of Autism Spectrum Australia, a not for profit providing schooling and other support services to young people and families touched by autism. The organisation has the largest network of autism specific schooling in the world and has offices across NSW and now in Melbourne.