Daniel Vankov ASA and Warren Walker CPA met at the Rotary Club of Brisbane, where they now work to help disadvantaged youth.
By Katie Landmore
People are drawn to Rotary Clubs for different reasons.
Daniel Vankov ASA had recently moved to Brisbane from Bulgaria to undertake a PhD and wanted to increase his social circle.
“Rotary has a long, impressive track record of solving social problems at a local level,” Vankov says. “Because I’d been involved with Rotary in Bulgaria, I knew it would be somewhere I could meet like-minded people and contribute.”
Warren Walker CPA joined his first Rotary Club 13 years ago after working for two decades in London – “the great home of capitalism”, he laughs. He simply felt it was time to give back to the community.
Neither Vankov nor Walker expected to join the Rotary Club of Brisbane's board, but their business experience and drive to make a difference didn’t go unnoticed.
“I became active in the club pretty quickly and started suggesting some solutions to local issues,” says Vankov, who has broad managerial experience in driving organisational change.
“At a certain point it was probably easier if I had some authority to run with the ideas.” As a result, he was invited to become president.
Walker was director of effective services in a different club, but had decided to shift to a club closer to his work, as CFO of a financial services group in the CBD.
“A friend invited me to join Brisbane Rotary and plied me with enough wine that I agreed to come in as treasurer, which I’ve now been for five years.”
He has enjoyed returning to accounting basics. “My job is more front-end strategy, so for my role as treasurer I had to learn how to use Xero!” he says.
Through his strategic interests, Vankov decided to add the CPA Program to his numerous qualifications, which include a master’s degree in business administration from Cambridge University and a master’s degree in finance from the University of National and World Economy in Sofia.
“I think for any strategic position in any organisation it is important to understand accounting,” he says.
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Both professionals talk proudly of what the Rotary Foundation achieves internationally and the work their club does locally. With a budget from fundraising and solid backing from a long-standing public ancillary fund, each year it decides where to allocate resources.
During Vankov’s tenure as president, the club decided to focus on disadvantaged youth. Projects have included becoming a major donor to the adolescent safety organisation Red Frogs, and securing a shipment of 2000 Kits for Kids for underprivileged children in East Timor.
“Kits for Kids was started by the Rotary Club of Townsville,” Vankov says. “East Timorese children often don’t have the means to buy simple tools for school, such as paper and pencils, so the club buys and distributes kits that cost just A$2.50 each.”
In 2019, the club will be raising funds for scholarships for young Brisbane women, and to support adolescent mental health. It is investigating funding a mental health practitioner in a couple of local schools.
“The Brisbane Rotary Club is quite small, but our 30-odd members put in 3164 volunteer hours throughout the year, so we manage to achieve a lot,” Vankov says.
Rotary International is a US-headquartered service organisation with 35,000-plus clubs worldwide. Its purpose is to bring business and professional leaders together to provide humanitarian service and to support charities locally and internationally. The organisation has grown to 1.2 million members since its inception in 1905 in Chicago.
Rotary’s name derives from its early practice of rotating meetings among the offices of members.
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