I’m Charlie Hay from Afrikids and this is #MYCHARITY

The WeGiveIt #MYCHARITY series asks heroes, experts, and leaders to share their ambitions, routines and more. It’s published monthly at www.wegiveit.co.uk/blog

This week on the #MYCHARITY series, we speak to Charlie Hay, Ceo of Afrikids

Charlie Hay from Afrikids

Location: London

Current job: CEO 

One word that best describes how you work: Catalystic

Favourite website: Google/Google Earth

First of all, tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.

A VSO volunteering programme took me to northern Ghana in 2009 where I discovered AfriKids (both through volunteering and as a patient at the AfriKids Medical Centre!). I quickly fell in love with this amazing organisation and the incredible work it does changing children’s lives and so when I returned to the UK, I joined the London team as an intern. As part of a small team, I’ve worn many hats over the years, but I was thrilled to became Chief Exec in 2018 and tomorrow will be celebrating my 10th anniversary at AfriKids.

Take us through a recent workday.

No two days are ever quite the same but in the last week I have spent a lot of time on the phone with my colleagues in Ghana working on our ambitious new strategy for 2021-2025 and finalizing budgets and plans for this year; recruiting new staff to the UK team; and having meetings with our wonderful patron Baroness Chalker, a few of our amazing donors and other CEOs/peers/mentors for shared learning and to discuss collaboration.

How do you discover new ways to innovate in your working day?

I make a lot of time to listen and learn from others – reading sector news, meeting peers, catching up with my team, attending workshops and seminars and generally trying to step back and remember “the point” of it all – why AfriKids exists and what else we can do to “make the boat go faster” towards our ultimate goals. My colleagues in the UK and Ghana are phenomenal and we share a genuine passion and commitment to our cause over our organisation, which means there is a really strong culture for trying new things, taking risks and hearing everyone’s ideas for how we can continue to evolve and grow. We have made a lot of big changes over the last couple of years and everyone has really embraced and been a part of them which makes it so much easier to try new things quickly and constantly improve.

What is the next big thing in the charity sector?

I think we’ll see a lot more collaboration and partnership as everyone (in and outside of the sector) is thinking in an increasingly global and integrated way, especially around some of the issues we’re trying to tackle. At AfriKids we’re making this a priority under our new strategy, recognising the value of partnerships across all areas of our work – from funding to programmes delivery – to have an even greater impact and ultimately, to see Ghana able to secure the rights of every child sooner.

How do you measure success?

Big smiles! Our strapline is “bringing big smiles to little faces”, and ultimately our work is successful when children are happy, healthy, safe and in school. But achieving this relies on working effectively with everyone it takes to make real and lasting change possible. The AfriKids team being happy and supported to deliver their best means they give us their best, so I’m really big on training, development, recognition, opportunity and support with work/life balance. My own experience of being encouraged and supported to rise through the ranks at AfriKids has taught me that people are usually capable of more than they realise, given the chance and a bit of faith, so I try to empower my team in the same way and they continuously amaze me (and themselves!). Our donors having an amazing experience with us and our project stakeholders (including communities and children themselves) being involved and valued is also critical to our success and when all of these people – everyone it takes – are happy and actively supporting us, the traditional metrics of success (business KPIs) reflect that.

How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?

Big walks, time in nature, cooking, learning new things (I’m a total nerd – courses, talks, exhibitions) and watching what is probably an unhealthy number of murder mysteries.

What are you currently reading, or what’s something you’d recommend?

It’s always my new year’s resolution to read more and so far this year I have read Stephen Fry’s Mythos, Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton and The Bell Jar. None of them work-related but I would recommend them all! And I’m one of the thousands of annoying people who can’t help telling everyone to read Sapiens (if you haven’t, do!)

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see ______ answer these same questions.

Mark Waddington, Hope and Homes

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

At work – if you wouldn’t want to see it on the front of a newspaper, don’t do it.

Is there anything else you’d like to add that might be interesting to readers?

www.afrikids.org