Posted: 25 Jan. 2021 05 min. read

Deloitte’s young talent to help direct positive social change

Meet Michelle Li and Grace Steedman, the new Young Voice Directors for The Deloitte Foundation.

Michelle, a Sydney-based consultant in Workforce Transformation in Human Capital and Grace, a Perth-based consultant in Organisation Transformation, Human Capital are each driven to activate their young peers to make an impact that matters.

Passionate about education, Michelle is already a project manager for Deloitte’s global WorldClass leadership program Courageous Principals. And Grace wants to reframe the climate crisis as a social justice issue; to engage and educate young people about the importance of sustainability.

The chair of The Deloitte Foundation, Rob Collie, said the two young women impressed selectors out of a strong and diverse field of more than 40 applicants with their passion, dynamism and proven track record of community contribution.

“The Young Voice Director role is a very special leadership development opportunity for Deloitte staff below manager level. It calls for creativity, great listening skills and the ability to drive new or existing Deloitte Foundation initiatives that will maximise engagement for staff while assisting our community organisations,” Rob said.

“Being able to say you have had Board experience at such an early career stage is wonderful to add to your CV,” said Rob. The Young Voice Directors become members of a not for profit board, taking an active role in shaping how Deloitte makes an impact that matters. They also gain board meeting preparation and presentation experience; and exposure to experienced Board Directors of The Deloitte Foundation. Michelle and Grace each tell us a bit about themselves below.

When did you realise you wanted to help make the world a better place?

Michelle: My dad grew up in pretty extreme poverty in Hong Kong – him and his six siblings would regularly go without adequate food and clothing. Through very hard work, a couple of key relationships he nurtured— he managed to break out of poverty, and I’m so lucky to have lived such a privileged and plentiful life as a result. My dad has been the biggest role model and inspiration for me as someone who is genuinely kind and dedicated to giving back. Growing up and hearing his stories has given me the gift of contemplation around what being of service to others really means.

Grace: The turning point for my interest in contributing to the community was in 2016. I had an urge to combine my love for travelling with my interest to support those in need. I embarked on a solo trip to Cambodia with a volunteering program where I worked with Cambodian locals to build a classroom for a NFP school and support with the maintenance and running of an elephant sanctuary. Realising the impact I had on the community gave me a sense of purpose and inspired me to use my position of privilege to continue community volunteering ever since.

What was your reaction to being appointed a Young Voice Director to The Deloitte Foundation Board?

Michelle: Rob Collie called me as I was in the front seat of a campervan making my way from Byron back down to Sydney after taking 6 weeks off work – as I was mid-snacking on popcorn… when he told me the news I was completely shocked initially – and then a feeling of total gratitude and excitement overwhelmed me. Truly – I am so humbled and grateful for this opportunity to get involved in something that matters so much to me.

Grace: My reaction to being appointed was a mixture of surprise that I received the role and excitement for what ideas I can implement in this position. I actually received the call during last year’s Impact Day event that I co-hosted which was quite timely! There were so many talented individuals who also applied so I’m honoured to be chosen for this position.

If you could solve one global problem, what would it be and why?

Michelle: Poverty – and the social exclusion that manifests through it including homelessness, lack of access to education…the list goes on and on. There is way more than enough to go around – no one should be living in poverty.

Grace: If I could only solve one it would be climate change. This is a key issue of importance, particularly to young people who are concerned and anxious for an uncertain future. Climate change impacts all communities. However, it disproportionately impacts marginalised groups and so addressing climate change will assist many other social movements our people care about.

More about our author

Gerry Wilde

Gerry Wilde

Director, Responsible Business

Gerry has been leading Deloitte Australia’s Responsible Business team and The Deloitte Foundation since 2015 and is shaping the firm's strategy to be a leading corporate citizen and to make a 'profit with purpose'. Gerry navigated towards this role after 8 years of strategy and operations consulting at Deloitte. Through The Deloitte Foundation and the Responsible Business team, Gerry manages Deloitte Australia's pro bono, skilled volunteering, workplace giving and environmental programs.