Meet the CFO David Gerrard CPA

David Gerrard CPA, CFO Heart Foundation | Photo: Damien Pleming

What’s it like to work at the Heart Foundation?

In the beginning

I did sciences at secondary school then swapped to business and did an accounting undergraduate degree – with career advice from my brother!

I worked initially at Australia Post, then moved to a health insurer and into hospitals, public and private.

Best career move

This would be working within the Australian health industry in the private and then public sector.

The commitment of staff to providing a better outcome for another individual or public generally is very inspiring.

My career’s progress was supported by completing an MBA at Monash University and completing the Australian Institute of Company Directors course.

Joining the Heart Foundation

Coming to the Heart Foundation felt like a natural progression after more than 20 years in the health industry.

After working in direct acute care organisations, it had new challenges, being a charity.

It’s run on generous donations from the public as opposed to any particular funding body.

We have federal and state-based grants, but more than 75 per cent of our funding is from the public.

We have our Big Heart Appeal throughout Australia in September, basically a door-knock appeal using more than 120,000 volunteers in a very short period.

The role

The Heart Foundation is a federation across Australia. We have nine separate entities to report on and consolidate into one.

It can be a complicated challenge to navigate. I don’t have direct management over the state organisations.

There are about 70 people in the national office.

It coordinates national programs and policy, and the states do much of the fundraising and advocacy in their local jurisdiction. Our annual budget is around A$70 million.

Lessons learnt

There’s always something to learn from people around you – not necessarily in your specific sphere.

Particularly in health, there’s a high level of commitment from staff that should be admired and taken on board – even if your own field is not directly related to care.

You need to recognise the strengths and commitment of others and learn from that.

Key strengths

It’s that blending of business reality with the commitment of staff doing their best to achieve the vision of the organisation.

It’s being able to mediate between those two challenges and ensure that the organisation is looking at itself in a sustainable form – particularly the Heart Foundation, which is donor-based as opposed to funded.

I don’t know whether that’s a value-add or just making sure we keep on strategy in a sustainable way.

This article is from the November 2014 issue of INTHEBLACK.

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