Kylie Wallace

Kylie Wallace

Campaign Manager / Polished Man

Charity

There is something magical about Kylie Wallace. No, it’s not her Rapunzel locks or mega watt smile. It’s her humility and love for human kind.  This girl is all heart – and her genius, creative mind is perfectly created for the Non For Profit Sector. 

Kylie has had a colourful career journey, but for the last 4 years, Kylie has been managing ygap’s Polished Man campaign. In fact, through this role she has grown it from simply just an idea into a global movement of 93,000 fundraisers, 56,000 donors from 110 countries around the world, raising $5 million dollars in five years to fund both trauma recovery and trauma prevention for children who have been abused or at risk of violence around the world. 

In this #careerstory we take you back to the very beginning, we tell you what course Kylie studied, who she has worked for and what a day in the life of a Campaign Manager in the NFP sector looks like. 

Get ready for an impactful and inspiring interview. 

Kylie, let’s start at the very beginning.  Can you tell us where you grew up and how your experience shaped the person you are, and the career that you are in today?

The first few years of my life I was living in the Basin, not an actual basin but in the leafy suburb near the bottom of the Dandenong Ranges, Victoria. My dad had recently taken over the family business, importing fabric from overseas and was travelling 1.5 hours to the factory in Port Melbourne every day. After quickly realising that wasn’t going to be sustainable, mum and dad purchased a block of land in Brighton and spent the next 14 months building their dream family home where they still live today, some 28 years later.

Mum is one of seven children and dad is one of four, so I grew up with a big family and over 30 cousins! Life was always filled with family adventures, choreographing dance concerts and endless people for play dates. I feel so fortunate to have always had a wonderful, loving and supportive family around me. My parents made big sacrifices to put my sister and I through a private school and gave us lots of opportunities to explore many different sporting and extra curricular activities.

When I was in my mid teens my parents became connected with a Christian Church called Bayside. I went along for a few years and got involved in their youth group. I think it was my time at Bayside Church that helped to shape some fantastic values in me, that inspired a passion and burning desire to get involved in philanthropy and international development.

Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?

I attended high school at Loreto Mandeville Hall, a private all girls’ school in Melbourne. My sister got a partial scholarship (she is the Brainiac of the family) and my parents worked really hard to give us a good education. School for me was an up and down experience. I wasn’t particularly academic so keeping up was no easy feat. I had to work and study really hard in order to get good grades.

I remember vividly a teacher saying

‘how you perform in year 7 is how you’ll perform in year 8, and how you perform in year 8 is how you’ll perform in year 9…. and how you perform is year 12 is how you’ll perform in life.’

I remember thinking that if I don’t make it in school and get the grades to get into the right course, I’d be a failure and never have any success in my life.

To me personally I value being kind and compassionate over just being really smart and believe actually doing something, no matter how big or small is better than just sitting around and talking about it.

I actually remember my own high school coordinator telling me something similar in year 7. Do you think that your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?

Like many people, I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left school. All I knew was that I wanted to live a life full of purpose and meaning and I knew I wanted to leave the world in a better way to how I found it. So I worked with a careers councillor and landed applying for Events Management at Swinburne.

Did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.

I was very eager to get out into the working world as soon as I possibly could. So with a bit of help from my mum, the day I turned 14 and 9 months I got my first job on Reception at Harper’s Personal Training founded by Craig Harper. I was working at Harper’s just a few shifts a week and but it was here that I learnt a lot about professionalism, responsibility and work ethic. I was the youngest person by at about 10 years so it forced me to grow up a bit and take responsibility for my actions. I also really enjoyed the freedom that earning an income brought me. During year 10 I completed a short term work experience at a Vet. It was then I quickly realised the Instagram reality vs. the real world reality of a career as a Vet nurse wasn’t for me. Outside of that, I didn’t complete any other internships because I literally had no idea what I wanted to do. 

Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?

I studied a diploma of Event Management at Swinburne straight after finishing school.  This course aligned well with my interests in events, being creative, working with people and being super organised. Also as part of the diploma you needed to volunteer at 20 events. So I went out and volunteered at the Melbourne Fashion Festival, the Moto GP, Melbourne International Film Festival, St Kilda Comedy Festival and much more! It was such a great way to get a taste of the events industry and discover what areas of events I enjoyed the most.

During the summer break between Nov 2016 – March 2017 I decided to go and volunteer overseas. I found an organisation based in the US that would set me up with a volunteer program and a local host family. After doing some research I decided to go to volunteer in India and Thailand. As a rather starry eyed and naive 19 year old, I quickly realised upon landing in New Delhi, India that the world wasn’t as perfect and picturesque as I once knew it. India was tough, full of hardship, inequity and extreme poverty. But over time living there, I began to realise it was also full of hope, beauty and people who had incredible strength and resilience. I had never experienced anything quite like it, and that experience volunteering overseas 100% shaped me into the person I am today. After returning home from this amazing experience I started to find my feet and truly discover who I really was, what I was passionate about, and what I wanted to do with my life. And I haven’t looked back!

Tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights.

After doing some volunteer work during high school and while studying Event Management, I realised that not for profit (NFP) and charity events were not only fun but also very meaningful. It was after meeting some amazing people in my time volunteering with World Vision in their youth team that I landed my first paid NFP role as Events and Community Fundraising Coordinator at the Heart Foundation.  It was here that I realised you could find purpose and meaning in your career and that I’d also get the opportunity to work with like minded people who were also passionate about making an impact.

After working at the Heart Foundation I moved on to work with a list of other incredible NFPs, but it was back in 2008 when I was invited by a mate Elliot Costello (CEO of ygap) to volunteer on their fundraising bike ride, that my life really changed. ygap was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. It was a group of really cool, fun, passionate and energetic 25-35 year old that were all volunteering their time outside their 9-5 day jobs. What ygap provided was a way for like-minded people to get involved and give back using their skillsets and networks. I then naturally fell into helping with their fundraising events and campaigns and went on to volunteer with them for the next 6 years until I jumped ship from my corporate role as CSR, PR and Event Manager at Priceline into a full time paid role at ygap running the Polished Man Campaign.

It was a great experience working for Priceline and getting to understand the FMCG corporate sector. I was also able to see on the other side of the fence managing their corporate social responsibility, giving money away to charities, rather than asking for it, which was an invaluable experience. In 2014 we launched ygap’s Polished Man campaign and in the first year fundraised $233K to help end violence against children. It was after this first year that an incredible donor saw the potential of the campaign and decided to fund a role to grow it! I applied and was successful and with basically no budget but simply a passionate group of volunteers and a supportive pro bono agency network, I set out on a mission to get as many men and women painting their nails and fundraising during the month of October.

Over the last 5 years we have proudly fundraised $5m to fund trauma recovery and trauma prevention for children in Australia and around the world.

INCREDIBLE, what a journey Kylie. Can you break it down for us how you got the job at Polished Man, exactly?

It was after volunteering with ygap for the first 6 years that this job opportunity came up. I had the great honour of working alongside my friends who were as equally passionate about this cause.

What is the hardest part of your current role?

Life in NFP is tough, I’m not going to lie. There is never any money and you’re fighting hard to stand out from the 50K other charities in Australia, be heard, be recognized and galvanise the support of the Australian public. Many people don’t see the blood, sweat and tears we put into this campaign. Maybe except our partners or roommates.

Kylie and team at a Polished Man event.

Being in a fundraising role I’d say one of the hardest parts is the scrutiny we are under. Many people don’t want their money to be spent on wages or on running the campaign, rather they all want it to go directly to the cause, so every dollar we spend is questioned and challenged. It does sometimes limit taking risks and trying new things to grow the campaign when we need to justify the ROI on everything we do. We do often have to get creative and find ways around this by partnering with agencies and organisations pro bono to test and try new ideas before we actively invest in it.

What does a day a typical business day look like for you?

Everyday is different! Being part of a small NFP there is a lot of reaching up and reaching down. It’s certainly not all hanging out with celebrities and painting nails! My days vary from working on strategy, to pitching to corporate partners, to working on the new campaign creative with our amazing agency Tofu, to running workshops with my team, to replying to DMs on Instagram.

Today I’m flying from Adelaide to Perth to speak at a national conference called Change the World by Hancock creative. I’m going to be sharing my learning’s from Polished Man with over 1,500 other NFPs in Australia. I really love building more collaboration in the NFP space rather than seeing them as competition.

Talking at liv events is part of Kylie’s role as a Campaign Manager.

Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?

My hero would have to be Rosa Parks. She was a woman that we learnt about during school and I was inspired by her confidence, courage and determination. Although now sitting on a bus seat you weren’t meant to be in would seam quite insignificant, at the time it was monumental. In an era where apartheid was rife, segregation was everywhere and women were oppressed. The day when Rosa, a woman of colour, sat in the seat reserved for a white person and refused to move, the cracks of the white rule began to appear. It was through these events and the bravery of people like Rosa, which it gave other people the courage to stand up and speak out and change the course of history.

What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?

It’s the best thing you’ll do and you’ll never look back! 

List your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration in your profession?

  • Favourite Websites: Fpmagazine.com – It’s a site for NFPs about what’s happening in the space that I like to keep across. Age.com or ABC.net.au – I enjoy keeping up with news and a current affairs. Mumbrella – I also like to see what cool brands are doing, how they are innovating and using technology to be seen and heard
  • Name an Instagram Account that you can’t go a day without checking: @polishedman (I also do the posts so let me know what you think!) and love checking other with other great NFPs are doing in the space like @movember and @charitywater
  • Favourite Podcast: Seize the Yay – Inspirational people who have started businesses and working for epic brands and how they got there. Pineapple Podcast – Very funny approach to all of life’s questions and challenges. Tony Robbins – Interviews with amazing people who have reached to the very top of their chosen field or sector.
  • Favourite Netflix Series: I don’t get to watch as much as I’d like, but my fav would be Making a Murderer.
  • Favourite all time book/s: My favourite book of the last few years would be the Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape. I’ve always been a massive fan of his approach. He makes learning about finance fun, cool, easy to understand and super interesting. I believe as women we need to talk more about money, know more about investing and saving and how you can get your money working harder for you. I’ve been so inspired by this book that I’m now working on a little idea which I’m hoping will change the game for how young Australians learn about money at school – watch this space!
  • People: My team. I’m so inspired by the incredible team I get to work with daily. I feel like sometimes I learn more from them than they learn from me. I feel so grateful to have been able to hire such smart, passionate, capable, talented and kind individuals. A big shout out to Kaitlin, Elly, Andy, Andrew and Elliot for making the last four years at ygap running the Polished Man campaign four of the best years of my life.

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