Philip Hunt
Leadership & Me: Wisdom & Life Lesson of a World Vision Australia CEO
Cardinia Ranges Publishing House, Beaconsfield, Australia, 2021
ISBN-13: 978-1922537027

Leadership Me

 

"Partly a book on leadership, particularly for those working at faith-based organisations, and part personal memoir, Leadership & Me is written as a series of short snapshots in Hunt's journey which he has taken to illustrate a particular point (these can be found in the chapter titles, of which there are 59, including 'Values and Beliefs Matter', 'Only Collaborate Where You Don't Compete' and 'Don't Lose The Wonder')."

Today, World Vision is a household name in Australia. Since first arriving Down Under in 1966, the Christian aid and development agency has risen to become the country's largest while what has been its flagship annual event, the 40 Hour Famine, has raised millions to help lift people out of poverty.

But it wasn't always that way and in this book Philip Hunt, CEO of World Vision between 1988 and 1996, recounts, through the lens of his own story, how the organisation grew and evolved into what it is today.

Partly a book on leadership and partly a personal memoir, Leadership & Me is written as a series of short snapshots in Hunt's journey which he has taken to illustrate a particular point (these can be found in the chapter titles, of which there are 59, including 'Values and Beliefs Matter', 'Only Collaborate Where You Don't Compete' and 'Don't Lose The Wonder').

The book gives a brief overview of his early life - from his childhood in Queensland to his first jobs, including working in a bank and then in radio - before following Hunt south to Melbourne where he joined World Vision in 1976. There he initially worked in the communications department and later spent some years establishing a new World Vision office in Hong Kong before returning to the Australian office where he would take up the role of CEO.

There's some fascinating insights into World Vision's evolution as an organisation in Australia including the bump the organisation and others in the aid sector received back in the mid-1980s when the famine in Ethiopia because a global cause celebré thanks in large part to Bob Geldolf. 

There will be interest, of course, from those who have been involved with the organisation, whether as a staff member or as a supporter, but Hunt's insights will be of benefit to anyone who is involved in leadership of an organisation, particularly a faith-based organisation, and is keen to learn from someone who's been there.

These insights include, for example, a look at the difference between a 'transfer' and a 'transform' organisation, the importance of having a vision that empowers everybody, and the difference between management and leadership. While these might not be new to some, Hunt presents them in a compact, easy-to-grasp form, generally eschewing corporate jargon as he translates the ideas through his own story. 

Hunt's account is warts and all - he doesn't gloss over his frustrations and disagreements but simply relates the situation as he saw it. Some of the best parts of where we find the most colour - such as the challenges he and his family faced with language and culture when relocating to Hong Kong. There's also some interesting sidenotes, including Hunt's scotching of the idea that he invented the 40 Hour Famine (he thinks World Vision Canada may have invented it, although notes they too, may have taken the idea from somewhere else).

The book ends rather abruptly with Hunt's departure from the office of CEO at World Vision Australia - while it speaks briefly of him taking up a new role with World Vision in Vienna and then, after 24 yerars with the organisation, of life after World Vision, there's not much detail here and one imagines there's some more interesting stories to tell. But that, we're told, "can wait for another book if God gives me time".