A farewell filled with pride and confidence

By Madeleine Donkin, 28 March 2018 , Comments

As Northcott Board member Tony Abrahams resigned from his position on the Board at the end of February, he felt proud for the organisation for which he has served as a Director for more than seven years. He was also confident that Northcott will continue to evolve, and enjoy a healthy, sustainable future.  

“It is with a heavy heart I am resigning,” Tony said.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my seven years at Northcott and it’s been a terrific experience. I am so proud of the transformation the organisation has achieved in that time, in furtherance of our mission to build an inclusive society.”

Tony was approached to join the Northcott Board in 2010 by another Northcott Director, Rob Silberstein. Rob and Tony had known each other since they were children, as Tony was Rob’s scribe throughout high school.

“That was a great gig!” Tony said.

“Rob is ridiculously intelligent, so not only did I get access to the exams a a year ahead of my own study, but I also had access to Rob’s incredible insights and perspective. What a bonus!”

Rob knew that Tony’s work for his own company, Ai-Media, involved campaigning for the NDIS and knew that Tony’s particular skillset in lobbying would also be of huge advantage to Northcott.

“It was an easy decision for me to say ‘yes’ to the Board proposition. Campaigning for the NDIS was an important thing for me professionally and personally and I also wanted to get ‘more skin in the game’, so I jumped at the opportunity,” Tony said.

When Tony started on the Board, the main priorities for Northcott were lobbying for the NDIS, increasing the footprint of the business, preparing for the transition from block funding to individual funding, moving to become a customer-focused organisation and increasing the market position of the business, and strengthening the brand.

“I certainly feel that in the time I have been with Northcott, we have achieved all of that and that’s no small feat! We’ve also improved the diversity of the Board ensuring more perspectives are brought to bear on the big strategic issues. The period ahead will see increasing focus on systems and processes to increase quality and efficiency and become more accountable to every customer we support and for every dollar we receive,” he said.

“We’ve seen a good turnaround in the quality of the reporting recently and that must continue for Northcott to be sustainable in the long-term.”

Tony feels his contribution to Northcott as a Board member has mainly been to ask questions and challenge decisions to ensure risk or viability is assessed, while also being supportive of the executive team when those decisions need to be implemented.

“I’m not going to say it has been smooth sailing. It hasn’t. Northcott has had to make some difficult decisions over the years, especially recently. If those decisions hadn’t been made, however, there would have been an even bigger effect on the organisation down the line,” he said.

“Northcott has grown exponentially over the last ten years. While it is of course a very different organisation now, it has the same familiarity of people committed to working to support people with disability and ensuring we live in an inclusive society. As we grow, we will need to be more reliant on good data. In the past, we could make intuitive decisions. Intuition is not enough any more. “

So what’s next for Tony? As CEO and co-founder of Ai-Media, he is leaving because his business is also significantly growing and moving global!

“Ai-Media was founded as a social enterprise in 2003 and now provides a range of live and recorded transcription and captioning services.” Tony said.

“We’ve recently opened offices in Canada and the U.S. and have also been expanding our services to make a measurable impact for people all over the world.

“I’m relocating to Toronto this month to focus on growing Ai-Media in North America, so reluctantly I stood down from the Northcott Board.

“I give special thanks to Northcott CEO, Kerry Stubbs and the extraordinary executive team for their leadership, energy and courage to constantly drive change and growth – and to Kerry’s Executive Assistant Linda, for keeping everything humming smoothly!

“To Michael as Chairman and my fellow Northcott Board members, I have learned a great deal from all of you – and very much enjoyed our time together. Thank you one and all for the experience and the opportunity to serve alongside you!

“I will continue to be an active supporter of Northcott, and look forward to all that will be achieved by the organisation and for the people it supports. I can’t wait to see what you will all do!”

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