Laure Collage

Meet Laure Philip, Development Manager, Major Gifts, The George Institute

In search of a career with an immediate sense of purpose, Laure Philip, now Development Manager, Major Gifts at The George Institute, made the challenging but fulfilling switch from academia to philanthropy a few years ago.

“Most people don’t know that I was formerly a French History lecturer and did my thesis on the French Revolution of 1789! I was raised in France, and lived for almost a decade in the UK, where I completed my PhD, before moving to Sydney for a postdoctoral position.”

Laure soon found, however, that academic work was not providing the tangible sense of satisfaction she was looking for and decided to change career paths so she could make a more direct contribution to others. The area of philanthropy presented itself during her investigation of the possibilities that might fit this brief.

“At first it wasn’t easy to find what I liked, and was also good at, outside of academic research. One day, during a job interview, one of the panellists suggested I look at philanthropy roles, as they thought this area would be a great fit for me. I met my current manager Ben (Jordan, Development Director, The George Institute) during this period, while I started my first philanthropy role at the Garvan Institute. I later jumped at the chance to work with him when he started working at The George Institute.”

In her current role, Laure enjoys the fact that she needs to exercise her people skills along with strategic thinking to build relationships with philanthropists, whose contributions can collectively make a meaningful difference to billions of lives.

“I work with a very high calibre of individuals, including business and industry leaders and world-renowned experts, many from some of the world’s largest institutions. They are not only among the country’s most successful people; they’re also simultaneously dedicating their lives to giving back to the community.”

Laure says she feels both valued and supported at The George Institute, where she is part of a team established in 2021 to help take innovative and even ‘bold’ projects that are not otherwise funded, to the next stage.

“As the first philanthropy team at The George Institute, we needed to set up a lot of new processes, and we’ve found it has been far easier to do it here than in other large institutions. We are not so big as an organisation that we can’t innovate and break away from tradition when we need to.”

The team is currently gearing up to launch The George Institute’s first philanthropic campaign that will articulate the vision, goals and significance of its work.

“This initiative is an opportunity to make a profound difference to global health. We hope to inspire others to join the fight for health equity, so that together we can build a world where everyone has the opportunity to lead a full and healthy life.”

Philanthropy is vital to the mission of The George Institute, says Laure, as it helps spread the word and fosters new collaborations. But the question of why someone may be motivated to support The George Institute rather than other causes, is not easily answered.

“This is the million-dollar question! And one I must be prepared to answer and be vulnerable about in my role. Wet labs, microscopes and cool tech are very popular, but we don’t do these at The George Institute. I think our greatest strength is that we tackle the evidence at the coalface of a problem.”

Laure is confident that if she can show someone how they can have a significant, long-term impact on a health problem, at an international level in many cases, then the dollars will follow.

“I think The George Institute naturally appeals to younger philanthropists; people who want to come on a journey with us, share their own expertise and get involved; people who do not want to just ‘donate and forget’.

In addition, Laure is justifiably proud of the recent launch of George Gives, the Institute’s first workplace giving program, which aims to foster a culture of ‘giving back’ among employees and cultivate a sense of social responsibility.

“George Gives connects staff to a range of small and large charitable organisations all beautifully aligned with our mission and values. Whether it’s time or money, staff can feel satisfied they are having an impact, no matter what they choose to give.”

With no regrets about her career ‘pivot’, Laure is excited about the future of the Development team’s contribution to the work of The George Institute.

“There is no better feeling than reflecting on a significant donation I have facilitated and knowing I have directly contributed to advancing research and improving people’s lives.”