Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

With a distinguished 20-year career in the fast-moving digital space, Cliff Rosenberg knows a thing or two about climbing the career ladder. As LinkedIn’s Managing Director for Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia, Cliff has led the expansion of the world’s largest professional network into this region, where it has grown to more than 8 million members.

Now, the South African-born businessman is paying forward his success through the MentorMe online charity auction, which will see him join 11 other top Australian executives in auctioning off mentoring sessions to raise money for ChildFund Australia. Here, he shares how mentoring propelled him to the top of his game, and his key tips for getting the best out of people.

ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE

“I’ve had quite a number of mentors throughout my career and I do believe that one should have their own personal board of directors; in effect, those people who you can turn to for trusted advice. And they change over time – just as any board of directors ultimately hires new members and moves around. I’ve turned to certain people for strategic advice, personal advice and financial advice. When it comes to mentoring, confidentiality and trust are key. The best advice I’ve received is: follow your passion, maintain your absolute strongest and highest values, only work with people you really like and want to work with. Life’s too short to do anything else.”

FOLLOW YOUR PASSION

“Opportunities presented themselves and I felt passionate about the ones I took. That was the road I travelled down. It wasn’t carefully coordinated or planned; it just felt right at the time. I have two passions – one is for seeing people succeed and helping people; the other is in the technology space. I’ve always had a view of the importance and the role of technology and how it will shape the world. And I always wanted to play in that space and be part of that revolution. For me, it’s not about titles or hierarchy – it’s about going to work in the morning feeling fulfilled and excited, and coming home at night feeling fulfilled and excited. That’s most important to me.”

RELATIONSHIPS MATTER

“Knowing the right people helps. I believe relationships matter and that relationships are really important to how one progresses through life. In 2009, LinkedIn was looking to expand internationally, and Australia was on their roadmap of countries. The CMO of LinkedIn actually used to work for me when I was at Vodafone. Given he knew me very well, he suggested the executive team at LinkedIn chat with me about Australia and any potential opportunities – and one thing led to another. A few weeks later, I was on a plane to San Francisco. I met with all the executives at Mountain View, our head office. In November 2009, I started at the Australian office. If I could do anything differently, maybe earlier in my career I would have given more emphasis to relationship management and the importance of it. Maybe that comes with age and maturity, but it’s so important to success in life.”

PAY IT FORWARD

“One of my personal beliefs and values is to give back to the community. It is a privilege to coach and mentor young professionals, assist them with career and life guidance, and see them succeed. For me, it’s absolutely important to help others. The youth are our future and the onus is on all of us who’ve got to where we are to help youth of today be the future. We have to invest in them; we have to help them get on the right path. I feel the more we invest and give our time and experience to them, the better off society and the world will be. When I hear of initiatives like MentorMe, which is all about investing in youth and helping people, it’s just an obvious thing we should all be doing.”

Cliff Rosenberg is among 11 Australian industry leaders going under the hammer for ChildFund’s MentorMe auction, with the winning bidders securing an hour of time with their chosen mentor. 

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For a girl growing up in a rural village of Myanmar, there is little choice for her future. She will usually work on the family farm or migrate to find domestic or factory work. This often happens at a very young age, which means she won’t have the chance to finish school.

As Myanmar opens up to the world after 50 years of military rule, new opportunities are emerging, along with new risks. It is vital that girls are equipped with the knowledge, skills and power to navigate these challenges and make informed life decisions.

Among the issues faced by girls in Myanmar:

  • More than half of the country’s 8 million teenage girls are not in school, with many girls dropping out to work or marry at a young age.
  • High rates of gender-based violence and trafficking/exploitation of girls and women.
  • Insufficient access to reproductive and basic health services.

ChildFund is partnering with Girl Determined to give girls in Myanmar the education and support they need to overcome these challenges. A structured leadership and life-skills program has been developed that brings together adolescent girls from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds to increase their access to education, health knowledge, participation in decision-making and personal development.

The curriculum spans everything from communication skills, teamwork and goal-setting to self-esteem, healthy relationships and diversity. Gender norms are also challenged through participation in sports, commonly not available to girls and young women in Myanmar.

“This program will contribute to long-term change for adolescent girls by building and strengthening their values, skills and social networks,” says ChildFund Myanmar country director Win May Htway. “These attributes enable girls to make a safe and healthy transition into adulthood.

“Creating dedicated, safe spaces for girls to meet through structured weekly activities is a key strategy of the program, so that they have opportunities to consult with mentors, acquire skills and deal with personal issues,” Ms Htway adds.

ChildFund aims to raise $100,000 from the MentorMe campaign to help 400 girls in Myanmar access the two-year program, designed to equip them with the skills, confidence and support systems they need to make informed life choices and determine their own futures.