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Much more than ticking a box

Frank Boutzis' work on charitable boards is driven by personal passions and a strong sense of community.

“Volunteering can be contagious,” explains Frank Boutzis. “Once you start to see the impact of your efforts, you feel inspired to do more.”

Frank, who's Chief Financial Officer for KPMG in Canada, had an early taste of the volunteering `bug' when he discovered there were no ice hockey teams for his daughter to join.

“Along with some other frustrated parents, I helped start our own team. Fast forward a decade and a half and this has mushroomed into an association involving 2500 female players and several leagues for varying age groups. It's proof that you can make a difference to your community.”

Currently, Frank holds board positions with two very different charitable organizations, one in the arts, and the other in education.

“The first came about purely by chance. I had recently moved to Kitchener, a city in Ontario, and read in the local paper that an old friend of mine was doing amazing things as head of a children's museum. He wanted to expand the scope to meet the needs of all ages and I immediately thought `I would like to be a part of that' and got in touch.”

That was 10 years ago and today Frank still chairs the board of THEMUSEUM, which continues to set new standards in innovation, featuring an eclectic mix of exhibitions and events, from Andy Warhol to Titanic, and Margaret Attwood and Yoko Ono to rare Chinese rock carvings.

His other position is with Conestoga College, a higher education institution, where he's now in his second spell as chair of the board of governors.

“Again, I was attracted by the passion and drive of the college's leadership. Not only did they have ambitious plans to grow the number of students; they also brought in highly innovative ideas. Since I first became involved, we've almost tripled in size from 8500 to more than 23,000 students, making it one of the fastest growing colleges in the whole of Ontario. It's been fabulous to be part of this success story.”

Although Frank is an experienced accountant, he's most excited by the strategic element of his charitable work.

“My financial acumen is table stakes, to be honest. What really enthuses me is the opportunity to shape the agenda. I'm accustomed to working in senior roles, leading teams, growing businesses and providing direction and governance. It's all about providing a vision and then getting the organization from A to B and beyond.”

And while giving to the community is the prime motivator, volunteering also brings considerable personal and professional benefits. 

“I've made many different contacts during my various positions, some of which have led to business opportunities. During my time at KPMG I've worked in different regions of Canada and, when you're new to an area, joining a board is an excellent way to meet local movers and shakers; the people who can make things happen in a community. Conestoga College, for example, was for a long time largely ignored by the Big Four. I recognized a huge untapped potential and we're now focused on recruiting new trainees for KPMG.”

Interestingly, the time Frank spends on volunteering - around 300 hours a year - does not seem to bother him unduly.

“I think everyone finds their own work-life balance. I'm still able to do all the other things I want and I honestly wouldn't say it's a burden. I don't really have a system; I just get stuff done!”

So, what's the secret to a truly fulfilling role?

“Engage in a meaningful way. Find something that's a trigger for one of your passions, whether it's climate change, education, children, mental health, arts, sport, or something else that matters to you individually. It's not about ticking boxes. I couldn't commit so much time if I wasn't fully `into' the organizations I support. When I look back at my journey, and the progress we've made, it feels good to say `Wow! I was a part of that.'”