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Stephen Miller, new National Director for SOS Children’s Villages South Africa, joined the SOS Family just in time for the 2016 General Assembly. In an interview, he shares with us his thoughts and aspiration for children and youth in South Africa by working for SOS Children’s Villages.




By the way of introduction, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I was born and raised in former homeland in South Africa, I had the privilege to attend a multi-racial school and was able to have quiet a different upbringing. I have more than 10 years working for NGOs. I have masters in management and I pride myself in being a leader.

What made you interested to work for SOS CV?

There were two pull factors for me to join SOS CV. The first is the fact that there is inequality in the country even after we have had our political freedom not much has changed for the society. When we discuss and talk about the reasons why, we always talk about the education system and the way children are raised in the country. SOS CV gives me the opportunity to work on the field especially focusing on the employability of youth. Previously, I have worked on entrepreneurship to improve youth employability. 
The second pull factor is the challenge presented by the job itself. We have a lot of diversity in our programmes and also in the process of organisational change and we didn’t have a leader since end of 2015. I enjoy the challenge.

With more than 10 years of experience with NGOs in South Africa, what are the things which will help you the most for your new role within SOSCV?

I was responsible for change management in my previous roles where it was for setting up of a new NGO or developing a strategy for an NGO to manage the change process. I would say majority of my career was dedicated for working with change. Currently, we have a new Strategy 2030 which is framework that will take us to a new direction toward becoming the most efficient child care organisation in the world. I believe I have the skills to manage the change and relish in the challenge.

You were able to participate in the 2016 General Assembly, what was the key take away for you?

First, it was a privilege to attend the meeting. What striked me the most was the incredible diversity. I have worked with other INGOs before but never experienced such a gathering from more than 100 countries. It felt like I was a part of a movement to help children who have lost parental care. I also appreciated that youth were at the centre. I read a lot of documents preparing for the job but through this meeting I was able to see the different divisions in the organisations. We use to encourage debate at MSF and also observed that during the meeting. It was open for debate and different ideas were raised.

SOS CV South Africa is one of the countries on sustainable path, what will be your focus to ensure the Member Association becomes self-sufficient?

Since South Africa has become a middle income country, there is less institutional funding from by iNGOS. It’s not a drama only for SOS CV South Africa but to all NGOS such as Oxfam and Green Peace to be more financially sustainable. We have also seen the rise of strong local NGOS. There is competition for resources. We have an appealing and strong brand and working with children and education is seen has very important. I believe to take it forward, all of us have to become fundraisers not only the fundraising department but even the  finance officer or HR manager needs to assist in the endeavours. I will work on changing the mindset that we all understand that we contribute for raising funds for our programmes. I will stand firmly by this and I belive that  there is a  high possibility we can do it and its achievable.

Do you have a life motto?

My uncle worked for Care International and when I wanted to join the development sectors, he gave me a motto then which was ‘it doesn’t suffice to do good, you have to do everything well.’ He meant that I needed to study more, become a professional but also have concern for the people I work with and for.

How does a good day start for you?

Every morning I start off by greeting everyone speaking to people and taking personal interest both in their professional and personal life. I come in with co-workers in mind that I want to talk to and also follow-up on from my previous discussions. 

Our slogan is ‘A loving home for every child’ - what are your most precious childhood memories?

Fortunately, I grew up in a stable family and have two brothers. I had a warm and comfortable upbringing. My important memories are while travelling with my family.
Is there anything else about yourself that you would like to share with us?

I am pleased to be a part of SOS CV to learn, share experience and start peer-to-peer interactions with other programmes as much possible. I want to be active participant in learning platforms from each other to do our best to deliver on the new strategy which provides an amazing framework and to do our best for children.