At a glance
By Katie Langmore
Angela Taylor CPA has always been drawn to the not-for-profit (NFP) sector.
Taylor, who was born in Germany, volunteered for Amnesty International during her university days at the Nuremberg Institute of Technology. She also did a US internship with charity support organisation United Way.
Then, in 2016, Taylor left the corporate world behind to turn her passion for NFPs into a career.
Strategic career move
When Taylor and her partner decided to migrate to Australia in 2001, she strategically took on an internship with Siemens, Europe’s largest industrial manufacturing company, knowing the company had offices in Australia.
This began a 14-year tenure with the company, which saw her become a corporate highflyer, moving from sales and marketing to project management and, later, corporate finance and strategy.
“I was really lucky to have had the opportunity to work on major projects and be seconded to other Asian subsidiaries. I gained such a wide skill set and feel like I was able to understand all the pieces of the puzzle, then sit at the decision-making table and help put the puzzle pieces together,” Taylor says.
Fit for purpose
During her time at Siemens, Taylor continued to volunteer, using her skills to support her children’s schools in the role of treasurer. However, the juggle between work, volunteering and family life became increasingly difficult.
“After my third child, I came to the realisation that fitting everything in is very hard. So, I thought that maybe it was time to try to make my ‘for purpose’ work my primary work, and I’ve never looked back,” she says.
Having loved the experience of working for a global company, Taylor investigated the international development sector and found a role with World Vision. It was a good introduction to the NFP sector, but ultimately not the right fit, she says.
In 2017, an opportunity at Teach for Australia came up, and Taylor became CFO.
“The education sector is something that is very close to my heart,” Taylor says. “I feel passionate about the fact that every child should have access to equal quality education, and that’s what Teach for Australia is advocating.”
Taylor found deep meaning and enjoyment in her time at Teach for Australia.
“I had the finance, IT and data management remit, and I supported strategic investment decision-making in pursuit of working with schools most in need of strong leadership in teaching.”
CPA Australia Mentoring program
Global charity challenge
In 2021, Taylor felt it was time for a new career challenge.
“I’ve always been driven by learning and have always found that, when you come to a point when you’ve absorbed as much as you can and given as much as you can, it’s a good time to take that next step.
“I find you can transfer so many skills and knowledge from one organisation to the next and then build on them.”
Her next challenge was the CFO role with Plan International Australia, which is part of a global charity network that aims to advance children’s rights and equality for girls.
A big part of Taylor’s role has been helping to guide the organisation through both the impact of the pandemic and a restructure, so it emerged stronger than ever.
“Our donors have stuck with us, and there has been so much more work to do due to COVID-19 and the hunger crisis.
“Last year, we had one of our highest contribution years ever, and we maximised the return of funding to the field,” Taylor says, speaking of the boost in funds to much‑needed programs around the world.
“My team and I played a part in that. Guided by our strategy and partnering with the business, we were able to provide meaningful information to support the decision-making, and that was really recognised.”
For Taylor, the focus and challenge of her role is balancing and aligning different revenue streams to achieve ongoing financial sustainability. As in most NFPs, income is precious, so Taylor acknowledges it is essential to allocate resources strategically.
“You need to consider where to allocate your funds to best serve the purpose of the organisation,” she explains.
“It’s easy to say ‘put it into programming’, but you also need to grow fundraising capability. We need to consider how much to invest in IT and how much to invest in knowledge management. How do you strike the best balance for long-term financial sustainability and impact?”
This is the question that Taylor is enjoying tackling daily with Plan International. Outside her busy role she has found some extra time for volunteering again, this time with CPA Australia’s Mentoring Program.
“I think it’s so important to give back – the world is what you put into it,” she says. “I’m happy to apply my skills to help make a positive difference.”
One piece of advice
Really try to understand the business, the whole value chain of your organisation, the strategy and drivers of the business – understand how the financials fit within the strategic context.