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Ella Camille

Ella Camille

Ella is an International Partnerships Manager at Social Enterprise Academy

  • Location: Edinburgh, UK 

  • Corporate title: International Partnerships Manager 

  • Company: Social Enterprise Academy 

  • Sector: Not-for-Profit / Third sector 

  • University degree: En route to a (slightly belated) MBA

How does your usual day look like?

Having never even pretended to be a morning person, I set up an easy start to my day, getting myself together to start work by 9am, usually accompanied by a politics or current affairs podcast. Being in partnerships and development means 90% of my day is about communication, no matter where I am. It varies from face to face meetings with existing partners in their spaces, preparing a proposal/bid/grant application or report, an introductory tour of a potential partner organisation or enterprise, and sometimes it could be tuning in to a local community by settling in to a neighbourhood spot for lunch and chatting with the team working there.

I never go through a day without reading the paper, and unless I’m attending a partner or sector event in the evenings, I’m wrapped by 6pm. I love food, so I’ll meet friends out for a bite, or cook if I get the chance and have the time to lay hands on fresh ingredients. Unless I’m leveraging my nite-owl brain to write, I wind down with a book before I’m asleep at midnight.

What are the things you like the most about your job?

I sometimes – laughingly – describe my current job as “go places and make friends”, but that is what it can boil down to. My job is to find and develop partnerships in all senses of the word, and it allows me to live deep in my natural curiosity.

I love to learn new things, and there’s not much more interesting to learn about than people.

What makes organisations, enterprises and communities tick are the people in them, and I get to delve deeply into all of these in order to learn if my organisation is a good fit for partnership, and then put a more critical hat on and start to figure out how we can do that.

What are some of the skills you utilise the most in your day-to-day at work?

Communication, communication, communication.

Specifically, the most important skill is about how I can change the way I communicate depending on my audience. It might be an actual audience, it might be a funder reading a proposal, a long-standing partner, a CEO or someone delivering catering for an event; sometimes it’s a child, or a refugee signing up to a development programme; it might be an academic, or a team member in my own organisation. Each interaction is equally important, but the way I communicate is different with each, and that’s the skill I use the most, flexed every which way and through every possible lens – not only considering each person, but also the cultural context and history at play.

What was one of your happiest days in your career and why?

The first time I went on an international trip for work; heading to a conference in Copenhagen from Edinburgh. Growing up in Australia, the idea of international travel was a very distant prospect, and to do it for work was even more remote, mostly because it’s so very far away from almost everything. While the flight from Edinburgh to Copenhagen actually took less time than my commute in Sydney used to, the sheer fact of achieving a goal I had so long ago set for myself filled me with joy, and that it had come as a result of my expertise in my job was even better. In true #gracefullyBOLD fashion, I commemorated the moment with a ring purchased in the Copenhagen centre, and am reminded of the feeling every time I wear it.

What was the toughest career decision you ever made?

I’ve had two major career shifts, thankfully only one of which was difficult. I spent more than a decade working from the bottom up in live music and events (not performing), and there was nothing of the industry that I didn’t know; but it was a space I had fallen into when I was very young, and there was nowhere in the industry left to grow.

I chose to leave behind the ease and security of my seniority because I knew that while I could stay and be comfortable indefinitely, the work could no longer challenge me. It was tough, but it was the right decision, and I don’t regret it.

What is something you had to learn to become better at your work?

Composure was a big one for me; I learned how to work very effectively in my early jobs, but composure (and its sister serenity) weren’t necessary in the spaces I was in, and entering different industries required learning how to move through challenges with patience rather than sheer efficiency.

How did you get to become a Partnerships Manager?

It wasn’t on purpose, I’ll share that! I ended up where I am by re-examining my assumptions about my own history and finding a common thread through all my previous work: building relationships. Stepping back to think about the common things I’ve enjoyed across a wide variety of jobs allowed me to find the right direction to move in, and search for roles made of things I enjoy, rather than roles that occasionally included things I enjoy.

If you could give a younger woman one piece of advice (it can be anything) - what would you say to them?

I have two, forgive me.

  • First: travel alone. It will help you know yourself in ways nothing else can compare to, and there is nothing more valuable than knowing yourself. It will be one of the best things you ever do for yourself.

  • Second: dress every day like you might end up in a job interview. A very wise woman gave me that advice a long time ago and it’s never not served me. Most days, you probably won’t end up in an unexpected job interview, but the principle carries across any number of interactions, and on the day that you do end up needing it you’ll at least appear to be ready and that’s half the battle (twice so far, for me).

Professional networking for women matters, because….

...women understand the value of transferable skills and emotional labour, so when you share your history, the full context of your achievements can be recognised and considered as assets.

What makes you gracefullyBOLD?

I’m the person on the team who isn’t afraid to ask a difficult question, or pick apart assumptions and challenge traditions.

How do you spend your weekend or downtimes?

I’m a fan of anything that helps move my brain away from multitasking – complex sci-fi and fantasy books, a solid gym session, or heading to the movies.

How do you deal with stress and build resilience?

Any combination of the following: a thorough hair wash, a walk in the sun, a conversation with a trusted ear, writing it out longhand, or a few hours of heavy rock music.

What would have been your alternative career path or alternative University degree?

Law, specifically as a barrister.

What are you currently learning or what’s one of the last things you learnt?

Right now I’m thoroughly enjoying my learning as part of the Democracy and Belonging Forum facilitated by UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute, looking at bridging as a means of countering polarisation and societal breaking.

Who is a (female) professional that inspired you along your career journey?

Cliché as it is for many Australian women of my generation, there is no more inspirational professional woman than Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister, and first woman to hold the job. She possessed an incredible clarity of communication, and modelled incredible efficiency in a notoriously intransigent and uncooperative environment, achieving significant and important work against all expectations.

Also, if you’ve never seen her famously feminist speech in Parliament House delivered with truly righteous fury while she was the sitting Prime Minister, you’ve a treat waiting for you. It is widely considered the most important moment ever televised in Australia, and picked up an entire conversation about the expectations of women in power and pushed it forwards.

What would you do if you were not afraid?

I’ve already done it – I moved across the world alone and started from scratch.

What’s the one question we didn’t ask you, but you’d like to answer?

  • Question: What do you want to do next?

  • Answer: I want to think bigger – I want to take what I can do now and see how many different other places and ways in the world I might work in.

The previous interviewee left a question for you! “If you could rewind the clock 10 years, what is the one decision you wish you could change and why?”

I would have left Australia sooner. It’s an incredible place, but it’s easy to be complacent, and I would have pushed myself to go further years before I actually did.

One word answers & quick fire round. Let's go!

  • Your superpower: How fast I read

  • Favourite restaurant: Mamak, Sydney (Malaysian) - check it out here

  • Favourite fashion brand: Cue Clothing - check it out here. Great for work wear.

  • Favourite beauty product: Stila’s Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Beso (a perfect red)

  • Favourite perfume: Hypnotic Poison by Dior

  • Book recommendation: "Gratitude" by Oliver Sacks

  • Next holiday destination: Catania, Sicily, Italy

  • Your hobby: Cooking

  • Favourite mantra: "If you’re going to do it, do it properly."

  • Who inspires you? I’m a fan of many women in politics globally; I love watching the way they engage with traditional power structures to make space for change.

  • Tea or Coffee: Tea

  • Red wine or White wine: Bubbles

  • Morning bird or Night owl: Night owl

  • Cat person or Dog person: Both

Thank you Ella for sharing your journey & wisdom with us!

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