Bren Arkinstall on the importance of working ‘for purpose’ than ’for profit’

Why it is important to believe in what you do

From recent trip to Africa (Nairobi). An amazing experience and one Bren is really grateful to have.

Bren Arkinstall is the CEO of the Edmund Rice Foundation (ERFA). ERFA is a community development organisation that supports sustainable health and education programs in developing countries as well as projects for disadvantaged people within Australia. Their focus is to build capacity within communities all over the world who are trying to liberate themselves from poverty. They believe in investing in education, health and welfare programs that provide immediate impact, but will eventually be self-sustaining for future generations. Each year, ERFA provide over $2 million in funding to their approved partner programs. Bren commented saying he is very proud of the work they do and he is passionate about good education, equality and trying to provide a voice for those who currently struggle to be heard.

Being awe-strucked by Bren’s amazing journey, I reached out to him and I’m glad to have him take time out of his busy schedule to give us an authentic and in depth insight to his story.

1. Humble Beginnings

Q: How did you get started and what or who inspired and empowered you to?

I was a late starter, after spending a bit of my early days travelling and enjoying life. My parents always encouraged me to choose a path that lead to me being happy and never discouraged me from making courageous (or silly) decisions. They allowed me to make mistakes and then tried to help me learn from them. It took a while, but I got it eventually.

Q: What unique and creative strategies if any did you use when you were first getting started?

I decided that I didn’t want to work for a big company and generate profits for someone who already had lots. I chose to start in a charitable organisation and develop skills that would help me in any role in the future. I learned how to negotiate with sponsors, close fundraising meetings with major donors and to stuff envelopes. For me, it was just a better fit to work ‘for purpose’ than ’for profit’.

From recent trip to Africa (Nairobi). An amazing experience and one Bren is really grateful to have.

2. Mindset

Q: What mindset distinguished you from others who were doing the same thing? How did you develop it?

I’m not sure if I have ever distinguished myself from others. I’m not sure how you measure this. I’ve always been comfortable with people and adaptable in my communication with all types of people. I enjoy listening to stories, and if you ask the right questions, you’ll find most people have some great stories to tell.

3. What is your definition of success?

My definition of success is to be happy, to know I have worked hard for all the right reasons and for my wife and kids to be proud of me.

4. Failure

Q: What do you think is the main reason why some people face failure when going after their vision?

I think vision is a difficult thing to define in both your personal and work life. Once you know exactly what you’re hoping to achieve, it’s much easier to go after it. I like to start at the root of the problem and work backwards from there in small steps.

From recent trip to Africa (Nairobi). An amazing experience and one Bren is really grateful to have.

5. What is the best piece of advice you have received or came across and would like to share with everyone?

I like “if you don’t believe in what you’re doing, why would anyone else?”

To view Bren’s work and get in contact with him visit

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