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The End of an Era: Tim Costello to Step Down as World Vision CEO

9 May 2016 at 3:58 pm
Wendy Williams
Long-standing CEO of World Vision Australia Tim Costello is standing down after 13 years to take up the newly created executive role as chief advocate later this year.

Wendy Williams | 9 May 2016 at 3:58 pm


The End of an Era: Tim Costello to Step Down as World Vision CEO
9 May 2016 at 3:58 pm

Tim Costello

Long-standing CEO of World Vision Australia Tim Costello is standing down after 13 years to take up the newly created executive role as chief advocate later this year.

Costello said he was “very excited” about the change which will allow him to get back to what he is passionate about.

“I feel like the handcuffs are off,” Costello told Pro Bono Australia News.

“Essentially being a CEO of a big organisation is hard slog, a lot of managerial detailed work that isn’t the part of the job i’ve ever liked. I’ve liked the advocacy and the field engagement, and reminding Australians that we can make a difference, and rise above our stature of being just a middle power.

“I think as a sector it is a very unique time, under pressure, a great uncertainty and yet a growing sense of just the importance of who we are, and what this sector does for the good of the nation, so I didn’t want to lose that and this role, and the very generous role of chief advocate for World Vision allows me to just to do the advocacy part.

“For me it feels good. It is more the fun not the slog, this is the stuff I do, so I’m very excited about this.”

Costello is also the chair of the Community Council of Australia, the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce and the National Australia Bank’s Social Responsibility Advisory Council.  

The announcement was made on Monday by the chairman of World Vision Australia, George Savvides, who said Costello had made a unique and powerful contribution to World Vision in the 13 years he headed the organisation, as well as to the lives of many millions of people all over the world.

“Tim has brought extraordinary vision, compassion and a burning sense of justice to his role as CEO of World Vision Australia. He has been tireless in standing up for the world’s most vulnerable people and giving a voice to the voiceless,” Savvides said.

“When Tim took up the CEO role in 2004 World Vision had 480 projects benefiting 10.4 million people, a decade later this had grown exponentially with more than 800 World Vision development projects benefiting close to 100 million people across the globe including in Australia.

“Our transition plan means Tim can continue to serve World Vision under a new CEO, engaging international leaders, major corporate donors, and funding agencies as well as our supporters, in identifying new ways of working and growing revenue.

“I know the board joins me, as well as World Vision staff, volunteers and our many committed supporters around Australia, in thanking Tim for his exceptional commitment and the tremendous impact that his leadership has had on the people and communities with whom we work around the world.”

Costello, who has maintained a high profile as CEO of World Vision, Australia’s largest aid and development agency, since March 2004, will remain as CEO until his successor commences.

The process of identifying suitable candidates is already underway with the international search firm Spencer Stuart appointed to conduct the recruitment.

Costello said it was a good opportunity for World Vision to look at generational change.

“I’m 61, I can’t even believe myself that I am that old, but I am,” he said.

“You absolutely want the energy and drive and skillset, commercial and managerial, of someone to run this big ship, but I am absolutely passionate about the work World Vision does.

“I see lives transformed, communities transformed, that brings tears to my eyes, and it’s not simply transactional shipping money for programs in and saying job done it’s actually transformational, it’s a relationship, it’s a journey, it’s mutual solidarity, and mystery of partnership and deep respect and that I am still very passionate about.

“I do think these roles now are very difficult for anyone to do what is essentially both managerial, chief salesperson, chief moral booster I think it’s very hard to do, plus three months travel a  year. I think in this new role there will be opportunity to strengthen and specialise for greater impact, I think that’s what I would say to the next person, maybe unlike me don’t try and do it all. While it has been fantastic it is often very overwhelming.”

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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