Meet our professionals doing good team – Jane Price
Professionals doing good spoke to Jane Price, Professionals doing good Board Advisor, around her experience in the non profit sector and her views on skilled volunteering.
Jane comes with extensive global leadership experience in general management, operations and sales and marketing in the USA, Asia and Latin America in the technology, consumer goods and non-governmental organization sectors. Jane has lived, worked and volunteered here in Cambodia for a number of years between 2010-17 and has served as a Board Member and Executive Director for several NGOs in Siem Reap.
Jane, tell us a bit about your story and background
Growing up and throughout my career I benefitted from the kindness and generosity of others as they mentored and provided me access to opportunities that I would not otherwise had. I worked with wonderful companies in Sales and Marketing leadership positions for over 25 years in the technology and the fast moving consumer goods industries. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to work in global roles as well as to live and work abroad. Benefitting from the goodness of others as well as being exposed to different cultures helped expand my worldview and awareness that ‘we are all in this together’. As a result, I actively look for ways I can be of service to others by sharing my knowledge and insights to give back what I have received.
What made you decide to volunteer for an NGO in Cambodia and what have you learned from that experience?
I first visited Cambodia in 2007 and was moved by Khmers who were working hard to better themselves and their families while facing considerable hardship. Later in 2010, I returned to Cambodia and volunteered providing coaching and consulting to a Siem Reap NGO. This experience was pivotal and inspired me to return to Cambodia each year to volunteer as well as to assume leadership positions, board member and pro bono role as Executive Director, within the NGO.
During this time, I realized one of the enduring ways I could be of service was to help build capacity of the local NGO staff. The wisdom of the adage of ‘giving a person a fish and you feed her for a day. Teach a person to fish and you feed her for a lifetime’ came to life for me.
Why did you decide to contribute to the Professionals doing good (Pdg) project?
Professionals who wish to contribute their experience to NGOs and/or socially oriented businesses provide a invaluable service through applying their expertise and by mentoring; they accelerate an organization’s growth and impact. In addition to the benefits they bring to an organization, the experience can be immensely fulfilling and even life changing for the volunteer. But finding the pro bono experience that matches the professional’s interests and background can be daunting. And even after finding an organization to work with, if the volunteer project is not well defined, the professional may feel that their time and skills have not been fully utilized. This is where Pdg shines, it helps match professionals with a suitable organization and provides well defined, meaningful project. Also, Pdg assists the professional with pre-departure and arrival guidance making their assimilation to Cambodia and the organization easier. This enables the professional to focus upon doing great work with the organization and making best use of their valuable time in country. For me, helping Pdg helps professionals and organizations in Cambodia; I like being a part of such a thoughtful and sustainable effort.
In your view, what is the value added by a skilled volunteer to an NGO?
A skilled volunteer brings expertise, skills, perspective, insight and wisdom to an NGO. And importantly a skilled volunteer can work with the NGO to help build staff and organizational capacity.
What is your advice to a professional willing to volunteer ?
Be flexible and resilient as things in developing countries and cultures are often done differently than at home. Be curious and engage with the staff to understand the organizational history and why things are being done the way they are. Be respectful, forthright in offering your perspective. Find a local ‘cultural guide’ to check with when you experience situations that you don’t understand or find perplexing. Have regular communication with the leadership of the NGO and Pdg staff regarding how your volunteer experience is progressing. Have fun and savour your experience.