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A reflection of the ACCU DE Course experience by James Manton

James Manton from Regional Australia Bank is one of the three lucky scholarship recipients who were provided the opportunity to attend the Asian Confederation of Credit Unions (ACCU) Development Education (DE) Course in November 2022.

The program runs as a one-week educational workshop and gives participants the opportunity to develop leadership, presentation and communication skills while gaining an appreciation of credit unions and how they are making a difference in people’s lives all over the world.

The scholarship, offered by the Australian Mutuals Foundation, provided James and other recipients to travel to Bangkok, Thailand and immerse themselves in the local culture whilst also networking with others from the Mutuals industry across Australasia during their course attendance.

Almost a year on from this life-changing experience, James shares his reflection on being able to partake in the opportunity and the profound impact the mentorship program has had on his own professional journey.

“Coinciding with the program last year, I had a very difficult decision to make. I had been offered a graduate position in the ACT public service just as I was heading over to Thailand last November. Because of the AMF's scholarship and the ACCU DE program, I made the decision to turn that position down and pursue to further a career in Customer Owned Banking at Regional Australia Bank. The insights I gained from my peers made this decision exceptionally easy and they continue to resonate with me.

In February this year, I've began a 2-year term in our Graduate Program here at Regional Australia Bank. Working across so many business units, I have been able to learn and contribute in meaningful ways. I have much more to learn across our operations and business units before my transition out of the program in 2025, where hopefully I can have a positive impact on our organisation and sector's growth and sustainability.

The ACCU DE Course has resonated the importance of our communities and the pursuit of human development within it. For me, the reality of the poverty cycle faced and experienced by many Australians motivates me in giving back and getting involved.

Before the ACCU DE Course, my focus was speaking to donors of The Smith Family, providing them with my childhood experience of poverty and the difference their sponsorship and scholarships make, however I am now beginning to make direct impacts through mentorship of young people facing hardship via an established mentoring program. The leadership skills that the ACCU DE Course has provided me has been immensely helpful in this pursuit and as I continue to develop, I will continue to deliver a direct impact and benefit to some of the most vulnerable in our communities.

In short, my attendance at the ACCU DE Course has ignited a passion within me for purpose-driven organisations both in the Mutual space and Not-For-Profits. I have been actively working, volunteering, developing and networking within these sectors and feel extremely blessed to be starting my career within it. I am excited to contribute my skills and knowledge to our shared purpose.

Learning from the ACCU DE Course mentors has been an invaluable experience, and I will never forget the teachings, insights and skills I have learnt. I now have the ambition to deepen my understanding and enhance my contributions to purpose-driven initiatives because of the ACCU DE Course and will continue to do this in a banking capacity as my leadership capabilities expand.

I have made lifelong friends by attending the workshop and I look forward to the privilege of connecting with more individuals who share a similar passion for purpose-driven organisations.

I want to express my sincere gratitude for the guidance and mentorship provided to me. The experience and knowledge provided by the ACCU DE Course mentors have been instrumental in the beginning of my career and inspiring to my commitment in making a positive impact through my organisation and community.”.

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