Name: Helene Rao
Job Title: Deputy Chief Operating Officer, CEO Office
Years Working at Mother’s Choice: 6
(1) Which industry did you work in before joining Mother’s Choice?
I joined Mother’s Choice from Goldman Sachs Tokyo and Hong Kong. I spent my whole career in investment banking, working in technology, as well as designing and developing software for equity and fixed income sales businesses.
(2) Why did you first decide to work for Mother’s Choice?
During my time at Goldman Sachs, I was fortunate to hear Alia Eyres, our CEO, speak about Mother’s Choice at one of our Women’s events. I was inspired by the vision of the organization and the people I met. The management team, the committee members, and the Board of Directors are all very accomplished professionals, each bringing unique expertise and a wealth of experience to the table, enabling the organization to operate at a very high standard. Mother’s Choice was at a crossroads where they were looking to invest in their capacity and this is where my skill set could be of value. I truly felt that I was called into action for such a meaningful project: designing the blueprint for a data strategy and putting in place the systems to allow the organization to grow its impact. What I did not realize upon joining was that we would have to start with such basics that many of us all take for granted – for example, digging a hole in the ground to bring the internet cables to our buildings! I am very proud to report that five years on, we have made real progress in automating our businesses and have had the privilege of partnering with some of the most successful IT companies in the world (Microsoft, Salesforce, Qlik) to make it happen along the way. Far beyond what I could have hoped to accomplish upon joining.
(3) What were some of the transitions you made from working in corporate to non-profit?
One of the most rewarding aspects of transitioning to a non-profit like Mother’s Choice is the opportunity and, in fact, the need to wear multiple hats. With limited resources at our disposal, we cannot always afford all that we want to achieve nor can we hire a specialist for every task. Calling on all the skills of a corporate career, the job quickly required me to broaden my influence from far and wide. One of our biggest resources at Mother’s Choice is our “family” of supporters who are keen to help by donating their resources, time, and counsel. Always striving for excellence and seeking out the best practices, I have grown as a leader, learning so many new skills from being in contact with these very successful and talented people who support us in our mission.
(4) What are the things you love best about working at Mother’s Choice?
In my work at Mother’s Choice, each day is an opportunity to make a difference in the life of a vulnerable child. I am filled with purpose and gratefulness, and have witnessed lives transformed through the work of our frontline teams. I work alongside extremely talented and diverse individuals, who are all passionate about helping the most vulnerable. Our culture of excellence is one of the things I am most proud of at Mother’s Choice. It is natural to sometimes think that non-profits “make do” with what they have or are simply satisfied with being “good enough”. At Mother’s Choice, we hold ourselves accountable to a very high standard, which is also supported by our board, volunteers and donors. We are highly ambitious in what we want to achieve, and always seek the best practices. This makes us a very exciting and dynamic place to work at.
(5) What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of working for non-profits?
A great way to get to know a non-profit, to understand its mission and values, is to start by volunteering for them. Many non-profit organizations are understaffed and need versatile as well as professional expertise that you may have from your past corporate experience. Be open to handling a broad range of tasks and projects. Take this great opportunity to learn more and grow as you go.