Becoming a full-time volunteer may not seem like the most natural progression for a former lawyer and investment banker. However, the business experience was crucial for Andrew Penfold in helping to make a profound social impact through his subsequent charitable work.
After graduating from UTS with a Bachelor of Laws in 1995, Penfold practiced in London, before transitioning to investment banking in Hong Kong.
In 2002, Penfold tragically lost 12 of his friends in the Bali bombings. Along with two friends, he set up the charitable Hong Kong Rugby Bali Fund and raised more than $2 million in a few months. A year later he heard about a handful of Indigenous students enrolled at his former high school, St Joseph's College in Hunters Hill.
"Being able to create something from scratch to help thousands of Indigenous kids have a better life is obviously something I am very passionate about."
"One thing led to another and within a year, I had quit my investment banking job in Hong Kong, moved back to Sydney with my wife and three kids, and spent the next five years working full-time but voluntarily from my dining room setting up and running a fund that has now raised over $7 million to support up to 40 Indigenous boys boarding at St Joseph's College on a permanent basis."
Its success lead to the establishment of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation (AIEF), of which Penfold is the CEO and Director. The Foundation has raised nearly $80 million of its $140 million target, which will help educate 7000 marginalised Indigenous children at some of Australia's leading schools.
Penfold says education has been the most important way to overcome disadvantage throughout human history regardless of race, colour or creed.
"Being able to create something from scratch to help thousands of Indigenous kids have a better life is obviously something I am very passionate about. Having my kids grow up seeing their mum and dad dedicated to doing something to make our world a better place and how that makes our kids better people is probably what I am most proud of."
Penfold and his family currently reside in Hong Kong.
Interview with Andrew Penfold
At age 38, Andrew Penfold quit the money trail to work for nothing to transform the lives of thousands of underprivileged Indigenous children. This decision would lead him to found the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation and a Member of the Order of Australia award. Click here to read the full interview.