What brought a fly-boy from the Tumbarumba outback to nurturing global talent and the future of purposeful work? Geoff, as everyone calls him, is the Founder and CEO of Work for Impact, the first on-demand talent platform to achieve B Corp certification.
Geoff Hucker has a gentle, considered air, a quiet certainty and an infectious open Ozzie manner. But this gentleness belies a steely spirit and a will to champion opportunity and fairness wherever he finds it lacking.
Transplanted from Sydney to the Outback and Horse Creek Farm when he was 11, Geoff’s love of horses (he rode one to the school bus) was to transport him far beyond Tumba-bloody-rumba — to America, to showing and training horses. “I arrived in San Francisco a young and naïve Australian ‘bush man’. I loved America”, says Geoff.
Significantly, he loved almost all he encountered, except the way the trainers treated the young horses. “So much pressure for horses so young”, he shares.
From San Francisco horses took him further into the continent, to Sun River, Oregon, “So beautiful – but during this time I was thinking of what’s next in my life, I knew training horses was not for me.”
But perhaps the small planes at the local Sun River airstrip were. “I had always dreamed of flying, my uncle was a pilot during the war, so I took a lesson there and loved it.”
Arriving back in Australia, broke but with a clear idea of his what next, Geoff used sheep-shearing to earn the money he needed to pay for his flying lessons, studying at night and shearing by day. Within two years, Geoff had his commercial flying licence and started as a flying instructor in Canberra soon after.
A world to discover
From Canberra, he moved to the wilder corners of Papua New Guinea where Geoff first became aware of extreme poverty and the disparities in the wealth and opportunity that exist in the world – a new awareness that was ultimate to substantially shaped his life trajectory.
Geoff’s flying took him to Hong Kong next, flying for Dragon Airlines, and then Emirates global operations. Suddenly, the world stretched out before him. Geoff travelled to many places. On one trip he visited Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia, ending up in a small Orphanage run by the Franciscan Sisters from Malta. The children were about the same age as Geoff’s son Zac at the time, a fact not lost on him. Most were HIV positive. The sisters were unable to afford the antiretroviral drugs. “Before PETFAR many of the children died of HIV/AIDS. This deeply troubled me, I had to do something.”
A new path
After two years of research, Geoff formed the organisation Beyond the Orphanage in 2007 – which focused on a new holistic nurture model, with the community acting as an extended family. The seed and spark of Work for Impact can be found in those years with Beyond the Orphanage and Geoff’s relentless application of his sense of purpose in the world. “The children in the program graduated, many with degrees, just to find there were no jobs, and if there were, they were poorly paid.”
But Geoff realised that the internet, accelerating technology and the cloud could change all of that. So he decided to build a platform that would address one of the biggest issues as he saw it — how such huge disparities of wealth create an overwhelming, endemic and chronic lack of opportunity amongst young people that often bleeds across multiple generations with little change or reversal.
“I wanted to build an on-demand talent platform dedicated to creating opportunity for folks and organisations across the world – a mutually beneficial talent platform, done in a clear, transparent and wholly ethical way.“
In a few short years, Work for Impact has transformed from a purposeful seed of an idea into a thriving platform with 680 clients and a global talent pool of over 31,000 talented and purposeful individuals.
In Work for Impact, Geoff alighted on two simple observations and unmet customer demand.
Firstly, he saw that the world was seeing a big bang of purposeful organisations – an expanding universe of organisations committed to creating positive change in their world fuelled by a rising tide of ESG capital.
Secondly, he saw an exponential increase in the number of people looking to make an impact through their work in an increasingly gigified global employment landscape – looking for outlets for their purposeful values-based world view in their day job with organisations they respected and admired.
It is in the ‘demand & supply’ space where these two communities collide that Work for Impact’s Talent3 proposition — a dynamic1 impactful2 and ethical3 on-demand talent solution for Not For Profit, for-purpose and Mission-led organisations — has been forged.
From A to B Corp
This brings us to the working here and now and the point of our story — Work for Impact and B Corporation.
B Corp certification was a natural progression for Work for Impact so, a year ago, they applied for B Corp certification. To achieve it would be peer recognition of their mission and vision to create a more positive impact on the world of work. It is a tough and highly rigorous process — but the reward — of finding oneself in a community of like-minded agents of change and the positive impact was worth every moment. In the November of 2021, the news arrived. Work For Impact had achieved its B Corp certification — and the team celebrated.
But tomorrow brings its own demands — both for the organisations and for the talent Work for Impact seeks to serve with its unique brand of purposeful On-Demand talent provision.
For Geoff and his passionate and dedicated team of 24 people, this is just the beginning.