The National Young Leaders Day features Australia’s most inspirational voices and role models. Halogen Australia has announced that Tim Diamond, the General Manager of the Cotton On Foundation, will be speaking at every upcoming event around Australia.
When you walk past a Cotton On store you may not realise that there’s a selection of products on the shelves that are generating millions of dollars for international development projects each year.
Through a unique partnership with customers and team members, the Cotton On Foundation is focused on empowering youth globally through the delivery of quality education projects in Uganda, South Africa, Thailand and Australia.
Tim Diamond is has led the passionate team since he was engaged by the Cotton On Group back in 2006 to develop the philanthropic arm of the business. The Cotton On Foundation’s mission is to develop 20,000 educational places globally by 2020, believing that education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty.
Thousands of primary and secondary school students will soon meet Tim when we he presents the Cotton On Empower Session at the upcoming National Young Leaders Day. We chatted to Tim in advance to find out more about who he is and his leadership journey so far.
“I was voted as a ‘Cultural Leader’ in my final year of school, so led the charge on cultural and social events at St Joseph’s College with a bunch of other student leaders – that included events around the arts, and fundraising events” Tim said.
“I met Nigel Austin in 2006, the owner of Cotton On, and soon after he asked me to travel to Uganda. In November 2007, we formed a direct partnership with communities in Southern Uganda leading to the official registration of the Cotton On Foundation as a charity organisation. Things grew rapidly from then.”
We asked Tim to share a specific example of a place where Cotton On Foundation is making a difference. “In Southern Uganda where it all began in 2007, we’ve developed 9,100 quality educational places across 20 schools. With three central villages identified, we have been able to support a web of outreach schools around them, minimising the distance kids have to walk to get to school. Across these schools, the funding from our retail teams means we’ve been able to provide over eight million meals to students and install water tanks that have provided over 17 million litres of clean drinking water. The change in these communities is unimaginable. The children from these communities can quite possibly lead the entire country out of poverty.”
Tim shared with us some of the most valuable lessons he has learned. “Number one, it’s ok to fail. Failure is a part of life, a part of business. Failing together is important – share the results, share the lessons. Be humble in defeat and take it on board as a learning experience. At Cotton On Group we have a value centered around this very area, we call it ‘Ever Better’. Number two, people are the difference. Live in the NOW, listen to people and work together. None of what we do works without great people. From our global team who fundraise, to understanding what our customer wants through to how we make the most impact with our mates who need our help.”
Thousands of students will hear from Tim in person at the National Young Leaders Days, but we asked him how other school students can get involved in what the Cotton On Foundation is doing?
“Across Cotton On Group – school students are probably our main customer” Tim said. “We knew long ago that it would be hard for them to part with $50 or $100 as a donation – so we developed a platform that suits them perfectly – they can purchase an item, that they can use, like a tote bag, mints or water – for as little as $2, and know that that purchase can make a difference to someone in need. That support, day in day out, allows us to do this life changing work across the globe.”
Meet Tim in the 1 minute video below: