It sounds like the opening line of a joke - a doctor, a lawyer and an accountant meet in Chicago in 1905... but, talking to Himanshu Kaushik CPA, it is clear that the subsequent inception of Rotary International is of great significance.
By Katie Langmore
Growing up in India, Himanshu Kaushik CPA was aware of Rotary International’s charitable work because of the large school the organisation supported in his home town and its contribution to eradicating polio. In fact, it was Queensland accountant and Rotary International president Sir Clem Renouf who championed the Rotary Polio Eradication Program in 1979. The organisation has since played an important part in the near-eradication of the disease.
“Polio only exists now in two countries, and Rotary still works on eradication,” explains Kaushik. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has also joined the fight against polio and now matches funds raised by Rotary clubs. “Since then, clubs around the world have raised US$2 billion (A$2.7 billion), and the Gates Foundation has put in the same amount.”
If that sounds impressive, it is only scratching the surface of the community-based work undertaken by the international organisation. Kaushik says his club, Essendon North in inner Melbourne, uses 80 per cent to 90 per cent of funds raised to support local organisations and community projects, both external and Rotary-run. “For example, we have several programs for young people, like the Rotary Youth Program of Enrichment, which runs a camp for Year 10 students who need some extra support,” he says.
Kaushik arrived in Australia 13 years ago and joined Rotary in 2010. “I wanted to learn more about Australia, meet more people and support my community. I’m so lucky to be living in Australia – I wanted to give back.”
Since joining Rotary – alongside his full-time work as CFO with valuation and asset management company Dominion Group – Kaushik has accrued an impressive list of achievements within the organisation. In just his second year with Rotary, he received the Royce Abbey Award, named after Australia’s first Rotary International president, in recognition of his leadership and commitment to community service.
Kaushik also served as youth and new generations chair for three years in a row, completed the Rotary Leadership Institute course, was the youngest-ever president of the Essendon North club, and represented his Rotary district at the 2016 Young Leaders Summit in Seoul, South Korea.
“South Korea was such a highlight for me. It was a 10-day conference, all funded by my district,” recalls Kaushik. “Keynote speakers included the UN secretary general, the president and prime minister of South Korea and other inspirational leaders. Five hundred young members also presented on a vast range of Rotary projects, including the elimination of slavery.”
When Kaushik joined Essendon North, his first role was to edit the club’s weekly newsletter, which was “a great way to meet many people and get involved in all the events”, he says.
During this time, he also took steps to encourage youth membership, including creating a Facebook page. His role this year is “looking after the website, social media and youth membership of the club”.
It is easy to imagine Kaushik doing an exceptional job as an under-40s ambassador for Rotary – after talking with the man for 20 minutes, you feel ready to jump online and find your closest club.
“Alongside the amazing work they do, I have made so many friends in Rotary. It has helped me with work contacts, and my professional and leadership skills have improved a lot,” Kaushik says.
About Rotary Australia
Australian Rotary Clubs are part of an international network of business, professional and community leaders who strive to make the world a better place through practical efforts. Rotary Australia has 1100 clubs around the country, which together raise about A$40 million a year for local and international causes. rotaryaustralia.org.au
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