Janine Owen

Finder of Grants and Funding

Founder, Grant’d

Janine runs a grants agency that connects purpose-driven businesses with funding to grow. Like many women who are happy in their careers, it took her time to find what she loves to do.

What work do you do?

As well as running my grants agency, I’m a coach and mentor to founders and CEOs of social cause businesses. I help them to launch their business or scale up through funding and marketing strategies and advice.

When you were at school did you know what work you wanted to do?

When I was younger I always wanted to be a lawyer. I loved watching LA Law and seeing the women so powerful and strong. I thought that was for me. Then in about Year 6, we went to the Supreme Court as part of an excursion to Canberra.  I realised that being a lawyer in real life was nowhere near as glamorous as I thought. So, in that moment, I decided I wanted to be an actress! As I got older I knew I wanted to become a social worker. For me it was always about being in a job that was helping others and using my powers for the greater good – I guess I can now pause to celebrate the fact I am doing what I always wanted to do.

How did you get started?

In high school I was always organising things, from our Year 10 formal to a whole netball club with three teams. Nothing was ever too much of a challenge. When I finished Year 12, I felt a lot of pressure to know what to choose for university – I remember at the time thinking how can we decide this just like that? I chose and was accepted into a Bachelor of Social Work. Within the first few months, I knew it wasn’t the right time for me. I was 18, fresh out of school and I wanted to have fun. So, after one semester I packed my bags and headed overseas for a working holiday. After almost five years of travelling, working in hospitality and retail and later on running large scale events in entertainment and having a lot of fun (oh and throw into that a degree in public relations), I decided to go back to uni and finish my degree in social work. Graduating in my late 20s, I went on to blend my background and got a job in events and fundraising for a wonderful charity. This began a 15-year career in marketing and fundraising for Australian charities. I never realised at the time how every piece of the puzzle would join together to create the bigger story of my life, but that’s exactly what happened.

What do you love most about your work?

Knowing I am being true to myself, respecting myself and doing something that makes a difference – oh and of course getting wins along the way!

What was your biggest ‘fail’ so far?

Not believing in myself. For so many years I never thought I was enough, I always looked around feeling like others were more successful. This plagued me for years and actually impacted on my ability to do so much more. Now at 43 years old, I’m finally realising that I am and have always been enough just as I am.

What’s been your biggest accomplishment?

For me it is not one thing, it’s all the small things tied together that signals my biggest accomplishment. Knowing that at every step of my career over the past 15 years I have made a difference to so many children and families through my work. I ‘ve raised funds to support kids with cancer to have incredible experiences with their families, I’ve raised funds for research to enable world-leading researchers to contribute to the global solution of finding a cure for cancer (which we are on track to do).

Who helped you get to where you are today?

My mum and my sisters and some really inspiring and insightful leaders I have had. Plus of course the kids and families I spent years working alongside. To have the privilege to work with a mum who has just lost her young child to cancer while she raised funds for research so another family doesn’t go through what she did brings so much perspective. It literally changes you as a human.

How has technology changed your industry in the last 5-10 years?

To be honest, in my sector we are far behind the technology revolution. But I would say technology when used well makes a huge difference in how we are able to capture and use data to better engage and manage donors. Also, the power of digital fundraising has really changed the landscape raising huge dollars for charities (who know how to leverage the technology for their success).

What’s your advice for young girls thinking about a career in your industry?

Earlier on when I felt like I wasn’t doing anything significant with my life, I had no idea that even in that moment as a waitress or sales assistant the skills of customer service and sales would be the reason I was such a successful fundraiser and end up raising millions and millions of dollars for worthy causes. It’s this perspective that I wish we could share with young girls as they feel the pressures of choosing a life path. One step at a time will actually get you there.

In your wildest dreams, what would you love to do every single day and get paid for it?

That’s easy – what I’m doing right now. Meeting with, talking to and inspiring women to create a business and a life that can change the world!

Industry: Financial
Job: Finder of Grants & Funding