My new job: Connector/Communicator at TACSI

I have some news I’m so excited about… and a cool story about how social media helped make it happen.

I have a new job at the Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) which is located in Adelaide, South Australia (you can read the blog post introducing me if you like). It’s mission is to “identify and support the innovative ideas, methods and people that will contribute to and accelerate positive social change”. The team at TACSI describe it as a “do-tank” (as opposed to a thinktank!) for helping make social innovation happen.

How did this come about? I just happened to see a tweet from @totocol about a Social Innovation job… I clicked on it, and reading the job description gave me shivers – I felt like they were describing ME!  I had to apply…

The job was for a Connector/Communicator:

” the ultimate connector: someone who can animate a community (be it geographical or topical) around an idea or event. As our Connector/Communicator you will search out people, groups and organisations and connect them with the work TACSI is doing, with inspiring ideas, methodologies and people, and continue to build a community of interest for social innovation in Australia. These connections could be through events, through partnerships, through media – you name it! You’ll be working within an organisation dedicated to doing things differently to what’s been done before. Apply only if you’re passionate about working differently.”

(you can see the full position description if you’re interested – it’s on PDF)

Everyone who applies for a job says they’re passionately excited about the opportunity, and says they have references. Ho hum. But I really was passionately excited. I decided not to let a couple of pages of resumé do all the talking for me. I called on my network.

Over the next couple of days, I contacted a number of people I’ve worked with and volunteered with, telling them about the exciting job I was going for, and asking them to recommend me on LinkedIn. They very generously took the time to write recommendations for me. (Thank you, Sophie, Donna, Emma and Catherine!). I started peppering the TACSI folks with my recommendations by email. I guess it was a risk that they’d think I was an overenthusiastic self promoter, but fortunately they appreciated my enthusiasm!

One of the reasons I was excited about TACSI was the presence of Dr Nicholas Gruen on their Board. I met Nicholas briefly through my volunteer work with eDemocracy website OpenAustralia around the time he was chairing the Government 2.0 Taskforce. So, I took the bold advice of the wonderful Pia Waugh (advisor to Senator Kate Lundy) and emailed him directly to express my interest in working at TACSI. Again, I took the risk of coming across as a self promoting spammer. Again, the approach was received positively. (Thank you Pia, thank you Nicholas.).

A couple of weeks ago, I had a wonderful interview which felt more like an energetic brainstorming session with TACSI CEO Brenton Caffin and Program Director Erin Green. They’d asked me to prepare a presentation on what I thought their Communications program should look like for 2012. I had so much fun preparing it. I drew a lot of inspiration from one of my mentors in the open source community, Leslie Hawthorn, whose approach to community building is full of generosity and practical support. Thank you Leslie.

This seems to be turning into a Paltrow-esque Oscars acceptance speech, so I’ll just add a couple of final thank yous… to Donna, Sophie and Kat (from OpenAustralia) for being my referees. Thanks to Caroline Siler and the team at Keep Left PR for giving me some valuable experience in corporate Public Relations. Thanks to David Lee and the team at Nuffnang Australia for the opportunity to work in advertising land as their community manager. Thanks to Mark Davis and Bryony Cosgrove for letting me fulfil my dream of teaching at the University of Melbourne. And thanks to Raul (@totocol) – for tweeting the job opportunity. If I hadn’t seen his tweet, I wouldn’t have known about the job, and I wouldn’t be looking forward to 2011 nearly as much as I am. 🙂

In short, it was a whole social network who helped me get this job, I’m humbled and grateful and so damn excited for 2011 to start. Thanks everyone, and hello Adelaide and TACSI!


  1. Cherry Stowman Said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 12:57 am

    Great story! Well done – you’re a networking wiz and deserve great sucess!
    A lot of people dont realise that most folk would love the opportunity to help out a friend or colleague land their dream job – I know I would!
    The message I took away is ‘dont be afraid to call on your network’


  2. admin Said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 1:02 am

    Thanks Cherry! I’m so glad that’s the message you got! I did have some moments of self doubt about asking people for recommendations, but I’m so glad I did. It feels great to help people by sharing job ads and recommendations, and it was wonderful that people I respect were willing to return the favour when I needed it. Definitely don’t be afraid to call on your network! 🙂

  3. Nicholas Gruen Said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 1:37 am

    Congratulations Sarah and welcome to TACSI,

    Looks like we got a good one. But how could following the advice of the wonderful Pia go wrong? It never has for me.

  4. admin Said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 1:39 am

    Thanks Nicholas – and I absolutely agree about Pia – she’s a firecracker in human form. 🙂

  5. Rachel Devine Said,

    January 5, 2011 @ 11:48 pm

    Hey Sarah. Congratulations, well done and best of luck in the new job. Does that mean moving back to SA? Cheers, Rachel

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