David is the Executive manager of Octapod, which is the primary regional arts and cultural development organisation to the Lower Hunter.
David serves as a Board member with Hunter Homeless Connect which links people to vital services and general support to people who are experiencing homelessness, doing it tough and/or are at risk of homelessness.
Since 2013 he has been running ‘Bad Vibrations’ putting on live music and small festivals which prioritise representation, access, inclusion and safety at live music events.
On top of all of this he undertakes youth mentoring with a few organisations, plays music and spends his spare time at the beach.
How do you manage your work/life balance?
I’m not so sure I do it well all the time! I try to be well organised and intentional with my time, which ensures I don’t shortchange the things that count. I’m very deliberate about how I spend my discretionary time.
Other than that I’m pretty vigilant on maintaining a basic healthy lifestyle and plenty of time around the ocean is really helpful for me.
Where do you see your industry heading and how have you positioned yourself to benefit from these changes?
Social, health and community services as an industry sector is experiencing real growth, and that trend is expected to continue strongly over the next 20 years. That trend seems to be true across the not-for-profit, government and private sectors.
While there will always be a need for highly specialised practitioners to assist acute needs, I am certainly noticing a shift toward multi-disciplinary and inter-agency approaches – fancy speak for “always be working with and learning from others.”
Along with constantly investing in education, I try to connect and collaborate with people who are likely to have a different vantage point than I do.
What characteristics do you think an individual needs to be successful in your profession (or in general)?
An ability to change, respond and adapt to the things around us that we can’t control – what sometimes gets ‘resilience’ or ‘agility’. So many of us are amazingly rigid in our own ways, meaning change takes intentional hard work. In my experience, people who can navigate ambiguity well are the most resilient and seem to create opportunities ‘from thin air’ where others cannot.
Other than that – a genuine belief in what you do and why you do it. If that aligns with your personal values set, you’ll be sweet.
Where would you like to be in 10 years?
We’ll welcome our first child later in the year so that will force a different pace of life for a while. It’s important to me that parenting duties are shared (truly) equally with my wife, who is extremely accomplished in her professional field of clinical neuropsychology. Ensuring we both get space to develop our careers and personal interests while raising a family together will be a priority.
In 10 years I’d like to be working further in social development projects having spent some more time living and working in remote communities.
What advice would you give to someone five years younger than you, in any industry, to help them achieve success?
Have a closer look at the people who are where you think you want to get to. Connect and spend some time with them, learn more about what they do, how they got there and what it cost them to get there. It might just inform your journey a little more and save you a few wrong turns.