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Sydney South NSW 1235, Level 11, 227 Elizabeth Street Sydney NSW 2000

Telephone: 1800 812 164

© 2022 Opportunity International AustraliaABN 83 003 805 043

Bringing hope to more people through opportunity

By Opportunity International Australia

Six months into the CEO role, Scott Walters shares his passion for philanthropy and plans for Opportunity.

Opportunity: What drew you to Opportunity?

Scott Walters: Apart from being led by God, it was the chance to be involved in helping to break the cycle of poverty that still pervades so much of the world. My philanthropic passions have always revolved around changing embedded disadvantage rather than welfare.

O: You have a varied background in accounting, consulting, business, philanthropy – which experiences have prepared you to lead Opportunity?

SW: I can see God’s hand at work in equipping me for this role. Poverty is complex and microfinance is just one part of a suite of services that enable us to help those struggling with this many-faceted challenge.

I believe my training as a chartered accountant, 25 years in financial services, and two decades in the not-for-profit sector including with The Bible Society, The Smith Family and The Benevolent Society, equips me to tackle the challenge of poverty through the services and products that we provide.

Scott Walters in South Africa

The longer I’ve lived and worked, particularly in the not-for-profit sector, the more I’ve come to realise that it’s a privilege to be able to give to others.”

O: What philosophy guides your own personal philanthropy?

SW: Give till it hurts! Early in my career I would have described myself as a cheque-book philanthropist. As my interest and passions grew, I moved ever closer to working directly in the sector and getting closer to those in need in the field.

I’ve become aware of how blessed I am. Why did God place me in this time and space? The longer I’ve lived and worked, particularly in the not-for-profit sector, the more I’ve come to realise that it’s a privilege to be able to give to others. No matter what circumstances we are all living in, we essentially want the same things. Why shouldn’t we help others to prosper like we do in this country rich in all that life has to offer?

As a parent, I can relate to wanting to provide the best possible opportunities to my family.

Opportunity CEO Scott Walters with his family

O: Were you a close family growing up?

SW: Mum and Dad were good parents and sought the best for my brother and me. In many ways we had a blessed childhood, although not without its stresses.

They also showed us the merits of hard work, and to look out for others. I will forever be thankful to them for encouraging us to attend church and youth groups. As a father now, I appreciate way more what a great dad my father is.

O: You have an identical twin brother, did the two of you cause mischief, are you close?

SW: Like other siblings, my brother and I had a fair mix of fights and competition when we were young, constantly being compared with each other. But we have always been close and have grown closer over the years. We have both had our personal and professional challenges and have always had each other for support.

We’ve had a bit of that weird twin thing where we will know that something is going on in each other’s lives without actually being in touch. We did once decide to swap classes in high school but instead of swapping maths or English classes, we swapped my Japanese class with his technical drawing class. It didn’t take the teachers long to work out they had the wrong twin in the classroom!

Scott Walters and his twin brother

O: Now that you have had a few months at the helm, in which direction do you see Opportunity growing?

SW: As I consider the landscape of poverty around the world, I hope that at Opportunity we will be able to broaden both our geographic reach and programmatic reach. Microfinance will remain a core part of our service offering but the complexities of poverty mean that other services such as finance for education, health, safety, sanitation and so on form an integral and important part of the overall tapestry of support for those in need.

O: What key intentions do you have for Opportunity?

SW: My team and I get out of bed each day doing our best to ensure that we look after our existing clients and add as many more new clients to the cohort of those who, with hope and dignity, are crafting new, prosperous, joyful lives for themselves and their families and communities, free of poverty and it’s vicissitudes. 

O: What do you hope to achieve at Opportunity – how do you measure your and the organisation’s success?

SW: Purely and simply the organisation’s success will be measured at a fundamental level by the improvement in the lives of those we serve, and growth in the numbers of people we are able to help. For me, and I know for everyone in the organisation, it’s all about impact; what are we doing each and every day to make a meaningful and positive impact on the lives of people dealing with daily challenges that many of us would struggle to cope with.

Scott Walters surfing

O: What is life like outside of work?

SW: My go-to recreation is surfing. And as a youngster I was taught the piano accordion! My musical instrument of choice these days is the blues harmonica and I’ve been blessed to play in a band at various times around Sydney.

O: What does hope mean to you?

SW: The Biblical expression of hope is just so powerful. In the Bible hope has a certain intangible but realistic expectation and promise of blessing in the future. It is that that I wish for our clients. And it is that that I hold onto personally in my daily walk. Psalms 9:18: ‘But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.’

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