Week 21 – Bec Heinrich

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Introducing Bec Heinrich

A note from Kerrie Phipps – You know I love a young Difference-Maker! I’m so delighted share Bec’s story and so grateful to receive Matt Rule’s nomination. He says “Bec is awesome! I worked with her on State SRC in High School. Her commitment to developing young leaders is truly inspiring!”

Bec Heinrich

Bec Heinrich

At the age of 16 Bec Heinrich launched her first business and in 2004 at 21, Bec embarked on her second business venture by co-founding Rising Generations (RG). RG is a not-for-profit social enterprise which delivers leadership and character development programs for young people, partnering with more than 350 schools annually across Australia. In 2013 RG celebrates its’ 10th year and the milestone of impacting the lives of 150,000 young Australians.

Bec was born in Sydney, has completed a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Law Degree at Macquarie University and studied Social Entrepreneurship at Stanford University, USA. Bec loves sport (in particular tennis), travel and adventure and enjoying great food and coffee experiences. In 2008 Bec trekked the Kokoda Track with two other friends, Bec and Bek (yes, 3 x Becks) to raise some money for a group of women in the KUP Region of PNG. A recent trip to Uganda was a life changing experience and her motto for leadership is “People before Progress.”

How did Rising Generations begin?

The vision of RGs, as it is affectionately known, was birthed over a glass of red wine in the Hunter Valley with business partner Tina. We sat chatting about our hopes and dreams for Australia, our desire to see a new generation of leaders rise up and the need to build vibrant, positive communities. Working with young people and partnering with schools felt like the perfect launching pad for this vision.

The name came from a song with the lyrics “I can hear the sound of a Rising Generation, not afraid of love or dreaming of the future.” These lines underpin the vision of RG, to see young people mobilised, with an ability to love who they are and to serve others, and to encourage people to dream great dreams for their future.

I was privileged during my high school days to have a couple of key teachers really take me under their wing and invest in me. They helped me think differently about what I was capable of and influenced me enormously. This has made me passionate about supporting and encouraging teachers as they have the capacity to play such a significant role in the life of every young person.
In addition to this, in Year 11 at high school I spent a month with a group of 20 other young Australians studying and learning about leadership in the USA. This experience profoundly impacted me and set in stone a passion in me for developing the leadership, character and capacity of people. It is now more than a decade on and this passion for me is still alive!

How would you describe the Rising Generations journey?

Getting a vision off the ground is never easy. For 10 years now many people have invested so many hours of blood, sweat and tears to build what RG is today. The greatest lesson I’ve learnt during this journey in terms of success is to just keep putting one foot in front of the other, day after day, and over time you will find yourself a long way down the journey looking back in amazement! I’ve loved the opportunity to work with friends, to build something that is bigger than ourselves and create a company culture that is vibrant, fun, values people and creates a space for people to grow, personally and professionally.

SLC 2013 ConferenceThere have been many challenges on the RG journey including two of us being victims of an assault whilst in Alice Springs for a school program, having a colleague in a coma for 40 days in 2012 after brain surgery and losing $500,000 when a major sponsor unexpectedly pulled the plug. This caused a major financial challenge for our organisation. These challenges have been the tough moments of leadership and life and yet they are the experiences which have taught me the most.

What makes your the RG story unique?

The most unique aspect of the Rising Generations story is the community of friends who have invested in and who continue to offer support to this day. Although trying to have a big impact on our Nation, and possibly the world, we are about partnering together with people to build something that we hope will outlive any one of us. There have been many who have contributed and been part of the RG story, to see this vision succeed!

Some of RG Army (Volunteers) at NLC 2012

Some of RG Army (Volunteers) at NLC 2012

What have you been learning as a leader of generations Y & Z?

RG currently employs 15 people, has over 250 volunteers and has built a vibrant community of supporters and donors called “The RG Army.” More than 80% of these people are born after 1980 (that is Gen Y and now Gen Zs). As a Gen Y myself, I love and appreciate so much about my generation. But humbly I admit, we have some interesting needs and pose some unique ways of doing things for the employers of Australia! Gen Y and beyond have grown up in a world dominated by technology, educational opportunities, the erosion of loyalty, a need for constant stimulation, a belief we can be the boss within 24 hours and a desire to change the world. For most of our team at RG, their job with us is their first. Laying good foundations in their lives and giving feedback is a critical part of what we do. Ultimately the challenge is to create a workplace where they are able to say “I feel like I belong.” I’ve learned people are what make a business. People are what make a team. I believe if you put ‘people before progress’, the progress, outcomes and success will come.

What are the most important things you’ve done to grow your business?

Co-Founders of Rising Generations - Bec Heinrich & Tina Cameron

Co-Founders of Rising Generations – Bec Heinrich & Tina Cameron

Focus on culture! I recently heard it quoted that “culture is the oil that allows the machinery to operate. Without it, everything would grind to a halt.” Culture is critical. When you build a great culture, for your clients and for your employees, you are building the most formidable marketing team.

Strive to become excellent at what you do. Under promise and over deliver. Be faithful and have integrity in the little things. Rather than be all things for all people, clearly know what you are not and become the best at what you are. I think staying focused on your core purpose and not drifting away from it is really important for successful and sustainable growth. Keep your team energised and engaged and growing.

What do you believe are the essential qualities or attributes of a successful person?

A few essential qualities are perseverance or grit, being able to stay the course in the long term despite the daily setbacks. From my experience, there are likely to be many! Humility is also important. I think leadership often requires a person to eat humble pie and admit mistakes, say “I’m sorry” and show grace to people. I am grateful for the grace people have shown me.

Contact Details

Bec Heinrich
Co-founder and CEO
Rising Generations
220 West Street
Crows Nest NSW 2065
02 8030 7170
Webs- www.risinggenerations.org.au
Blog – www.peoplebeforeprogress.com.au
Twitter – @BecHeinrich

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