Robyn Roberts is general manager of The Salvation Army’s Crossroads Network. Speaking to Ann Sathasivam, she shares some of her inspirations and what gets her out of bed in the morning.
What services does Crossroads provide, and where do you fit in?
The Crossroads Network provides a range of services to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people, individuals and families in the northern and western metropolitan regions of Melbourne.
Services provided include family violence, youth housing, support and development, homelessness support, residential alcohol and other drugs rehabilitation for women, gamblers’ help services, financial counselling and asylum seeker and refugee support.
The Crossroads Network also leads the national delivery of The Salvation Army’s Safer in the Home program. As general manager, my role is to oversee everything that Crossroads does in terms of services to individuals and communities, as well as lead and manage a team of around 120 dedicated staff and volunteers.
Was there a pivotal moment in your working life, when you had to make a tough decision regarding your career?
Definitely! I have had to make a number of important decisions over the years where my family has always taken priority over career. Your career can wax and wane, but at the end of the day your family are what make you ‘you’.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you like to be doing?
I have always wished I’d pursued a career in architecture, but I let that opportunity pass many years ago. Like an architect, I have a natural desire to consult, design, problem-solve and create for the betterment of the end users. In a funny way that’s what I do in the community sector—improve, design, create and deliver the best possible services to people who really need them.
What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?
I’m a morning person so getting up is not a problem! Knowing that I will spend my day with other skilled, smart, funny and capable people trying day in,
day out to make a difference in the lives of others cannot help but motivate.
Who has inspired you? Can you share a little of why this person has ‘lit a fire’ in you?
My mother was a great source of inspiration. Her personal story of the disadvantage and prejudice she experienced growing up, along with her determination to overcome this, inspired my strong sense of social justice and feminist values.
What advice would you give to a young person who is just starting out in their career?
You may not find exactly what your place is the first time around, but don’t give up trying. Observing and conversing with your colleagues is a rich source of learning.
Don’t be afraid of failing or things not working out—you can always ‘reinvent’ yourself.
Perhaps the wisest advice was from a family member: “A little information can be a very dangerous thing.” I have been known to say this at Crossroads. Simply put, this means make sure you get all the information or perspectives you can to inform your decision rather than make a call on something based on just part of the information or, worse still, incorrect information or no information at all!