An Interview with volunteer Gai Hawthorn

Hear about a real volunteer experience from our ITF launch

Schools industry Partnership

We caught up with Gai Hawthorn, a volunteer from our National Launch, to hear her thoughts on ITF and the activity she participated in. 

Could you give a brief overview of your career and what made you pursue your current passion?  

I am the current CEO of Penrith CBD Corporation, we assist small business within the CBD through opportunities available, events to activate the CBD and training and referrals to assist small business.

I'm also a current Board member Penrith Community College and Penrith Community Kitchen.

I’ve always been a keen organiser, enjoy working and organising events and have a passion for hard work with outcomes that benefit others

My career started in Accounting (I found that boring but it did give me a strong background in accounts for future positions) and I have an Administration, Marketing & Events background. I’ve worked in the industry of marketing/events for over 25 years and currently been in this role for past 5 years.

What has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career?

Balance of life, work, family and re-entering the workforce. Technology ever changing even 20 years ago.  It is so important to stay updated, continue with some form of study to achieve growth in any position.

How can Inspiring the Future make an impact for young people?

This amazing program reaches out offering students the ability to connect with businesses and their managers/staff. The opportunity to unlock potential connections for students through our business contacts. The opportunity to let the students know we all started out the same way - leaving school, some knowing and some of us not knowing about  careers and the future. It’s important they understand we all made different choices through work and study to lead us into the career’s we have now.   It involves commitment and passion, not just luck.  

What was the most valuable thing you learned at the ITF Launch?

I sat at each table and after introducing myself asked them if they had met each other (as there were a few different schools attending), and found that they hadn't. I then reminded them about what Minister Stokes had said, 'Networking was an advantage for the future'!

I found that the students were just looking for a job not a career. Passion and happiness makes you get out of bed each morning, and I believe that for anyone in any role. I changed careers a few times too, but I found the right fit for me. The students were keen to realise they can make today’s decision, but it might not be forever unless the career is the right fit for them.

What surprised you about the ITF event?

The amount of other local businesses giving up their time to be involved - amazing and great to see.

Why should others sign up to volunteer?

The opportunity to help inspire the future, not only for today’s students, but also for tomorrows' budding business owners and operators. You never know, one of these students could be our next Prime Minister!