Lisa Penridge CSI Council Fund Manager speaks about Faces of CSI

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Let’s face it – most CSI Managers who currently oversee massive budgets, programmes and projects will be retired or close to retiring in 2055.  The question is, what will the CSI Manager of the future – the one now entering pre-school or high school – need to know in order to fill our shoes, and do it excellently? I often look at my kids and think, ‘What am I leaving behind to inform, guide and correct them?’ The same attitude I’ve adopted at home now applies to my work.  What, in truth, are we leaving behind for our successors?  Are you doing anything at all to ensure that mistakes are not repeated, and that CSI in South Africa just gets better and more effective?   

I love what 50s heart-throb, 24-year-old actor James Dean, once said: ‘If a man can bridge the gap between life and death, if he can live on after his death, then maybe he was a great man’. What will the future say about us?

In Write It Down, Make It Happen, Henriette Anne Klauser, PhD, explains how simply writing down our goals in life is the first step toward achieving them. But writing has other uses, too – through the act of writing, we shape our own ideas, clarify our vision and find out what we’re passionate about. We also leave a legacy for others to learn from.

Ten years ago most of us were in the deep end with our jobs, learning how to manage enormous budgets, pick winning programmes, report to, educate and empower our shareholders and board, and increase our own knowledge with very little to guide us. There was no textbook or manual to point out the route. We had to discover for ourselves how things worked and what the common pitfalls were. 

Not so, now. Amongst the cohort of CSI Managers in South Africa today, we have enormous reserves of knowledge and experience. We have made mistakes, discovered what works and what does not, and where we ought to be investing our energy. We owe it to future generations of CSI Managers to offer a little guidance. We cannot leave the field as empty as we found it. We have much to offer, and in writing it down, we formalise that knowledge and help steer the rookie CSI, CSO or NGO Manager so that they’re empowered to do better than we did.

To this end, the a CSI Council, in partnership with CSRNEWSSA, has created a platform on which to share our knowledge and experience – Faces of CSI

Faces of CSI is a 12-issue, 50-page quarterly magazine that features CSI Managers, NGO and NPO workers and a host of social sector representatives across nine sectors to share and discuss who we are, what we’ve learned, what we love and what we’ll never do again. The focus is on people – the characters that shape this industry. By sharing our stories, we aim to enrich our understanding of this broad, fascinating and challenging sector.  

Think about it. If we don’t share our knowledge, then what was the point of studying all those years? Even today, many CSI Managers are swimming through turbulent waters pretty much on their own. Some are studying as they work. They’re maneuvering massive budgets, learning as they go, sometimes facing serious setbacks, with little to guide them. 

Recall the Marikana disaster. When that happened, several companies, not Lonmin alone, were dragged through the mud. The CSI Manager entering high school right now needs to know how to handle situations of this magnitude; to be able to page through an interesting, readable archive of information where they pick up the schools of thoughts that run through CSI; where they become familiar with the pros, the cons, the risk analyses, what to avoid, what to pursue, how to collaborate and how to act effectively in partnerships. They’ll get to learn from our experiences – not just our successes but our most embarrassing or catastrophic failures as well. 

We need to bring CSI into the centre of our national conversation where it belongs – as a vital player in the growth and development of South Africa. Faces of CSI will bring us closer to this goal.

Until now, we’ve never truly had a journal of information that puts it all together, reflecting who we are and what we’ve learned.  If you’d like to be part of the conversation and contribute something of value for your successor, consider booking an editorial in one of their early editions. 

Innovative platforms like this are one way we put our wisdom to practical use.  With a double page spread you get an ad and a page to share about you and what you’ve learned about corporate social investment. We’re looking for honesty and truth – not puff pieces.  We’ll be sending out questions to guide you as you put pen to paper, so that what we publish is meaningful and engaging.  And we’ll want the visuals, too – some will be asked to come into the studio for professional shots, so if you’re keen – great! We need to put faces to the names.

Look out for an email from us inviting you to participate. Let’s share what we’re about – let’s open the discussion with honest reflection and give the next generation of CSI leaders a much-needed leg up.

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