Victoria, a human resources (HR) professional, first contacted Jericho Road Pasadena from her native Australia before an extended trip to Los Angeles. She has a heart for volunteer service and loved the idea of using her skill set while she was visiting her boyfriend. She completed one JRP project in the two months she was in our area; now back in Perth, Victoria continues to aid non-profit organizations (NPOs) in our region – from a distance of 9,330 miles! Recently Victoria answered questions about her JRP volunteer jobs: JRP: Victoria, what volunteer work did you perform at Verdugo Young Musicians Association (VYMA)? Victoria: VYMA had a small number of paid employees who were covering tasks that did not necessarily fall into their job descriptions. I met with all the employees to ascertain the types of tasks they were doing under their current position title/description and also to understand the type of person and skills required for their various positions. I was in Los Angeles at the time, so I could observe VYMA’s activities, and I met with Sam Chilingarian, the Artistic/Music Director and founder of the program. Based on my meetings, I then went away and put together detailed position descriptions around what I saw their true focus to be. I summarized my thoughts on VYMA’s structure and what future roles might be required—volunteer roles and, if funding was available, paid roles. JRP: What work did you do for Family Promise of San Gabriel Valley? Victoria: This project I had to do remotely from Perth, as I had returned home, where my now husband came to live with me, rather than our living in L.A. This project was also about lack of role clarity and putting together position descriptions. Family Promise had a position called Network Director for which they had previously recruited. They ended up, however, having high candidate turnover. I spoke with Karen Roberson, who was filling in as the Network Director at the time, to ascertain the work of the specific position and did some research online for these types of roles. In the end, it was determined that what Family Promise really needed was a Case Manager. Once the position was defined, Family Promise could attract candidates more suited to the role and who had a realistic salary expectation. As they were going through the recruitment process, I also offered Karen some suggestions on interviewing techniques and qualities to look for within an individual. For example, a candidate needs a base level of skills, of course, but the rest can be learned. What often can’t be learned is attitude. My mantra therefore is “Hire for attitude, not for skills.” Family Promise has strong organizational values, and they need value-compatible applicants where money is not the major motivator. JRP: How does working with these groups affect you personally? Victoria: I’m very passionate about not-for-profit work, and, in an ideal world, wished everyone dedicated even a couple hours a month as a volunteer. I really enjoyed using my professional knowledge to assist non-profits that struggle with funding for even some basic, important roles. What impacted me the most was to view the passion of the individuals I worked with, for the work they were doing in lieu of chasing more materialistic goals. Jericho Road volunteer opportunities are great for people like me, who have chosen to pursue a career in the for-profit world but can still help by offering their time and skills. JRP: Why did you like the L.A. project so much that you offered to continue working from home?
Victoria: I have done lots of volunteering in the past, none of which, however, required me to apply my professional know-how. Over all, I love the exposure to various not-for-profits and the ability to use my skills and knowledge. Melanie at Jericho Road has been great in coordinating this. Both my experiences have been wonderful, and I am eagerly awaiting the next one to come through! JRP: How does using your specific skill set from Australia differ from your direct-service volunteer work in the U.S.? Victoria: The majority of work I do volunteering through Jericho Road is around position descriptions. In Australia, I work in Remuneration and Benefits, where as part of my role I analyze position descriptions to determine a remuneration match. Due to the different structure in remuneration and benefits in the U.S., my current role is not very transferable to the U.S. However, my more generalist HR skills and knowledge transfer quite easily. JRP: How does HR help an organization provide better services and a stronger work environment? Victoria: From a Human Resource perspective, we are definitely in a period where shared values between employees and an organization and also employee engagement are essential. Sometimes you wonder who is interviewing whom for a job: Is it the NPO interviewing the candidate or vice versa? Having an HR foundation within these organizations—in particular, role definition—assists groups to find more suitable employees who are engaged in the work, who share the same values, and who therefore provide better services. HR also gives organizations a clear view of where their gaps might be in terms of human capital ability and skills. Interview and research conducted by Lee Wherry Brainerd, a freelance writer in Altadena, who loves Victoria Bitter Lager! “The services Victoria provided were something that small NPOs cannot do themselves. It was wonderful to have someone on the outside, with an objective eye, review your organization. We are very grateful that an organization like JRP exists.” –Verdugo Young Musicians Association (VYMA) “Victoria is professional and communicative. Thanks to her work, we will be ready to hire a new person in our Executive Director position soon!” –Family Promise of San Gabriel Valley