One of the great benefits of contracting on a fixed term basis is the occasional break in between contracts. One of our IPros (independent professionals) put the time to good use by setting up a charity that distributes second-hand mobile phones to victims of domestic violence – DV Safe Phone.
We caught up with Ashton to find out how DV Safe Phone came about, and what he loves about the lifestyle that contracting provides him.
Hi Ashton, tell us about DV Safe Phone and how the idea came about.
We recently did a clean-up at home and had a bunch of things to donate to charity… however, due to COVID-19 lockdowns, all charity depots were closed, so we had no place to take it.
I called a business contact who runs a company called Domestic Violence Business Solutions, to see if she knew of a drop-off point. Janine was a Senior Sergeant in the New Zealand Police Force for over 20 years, specialising in Domestic Violence. She told me that they’re in desperate need of working mobile phones right now. When I offered up my spare phone, Janine said “Ashton, your old phone may save a life”
I knew I could do a lot more than just get one phone, so I’ve partnered with some other local businesses, including a local phone repair chain, to get as many phones as possible, test them and get them to those who need it the most.
That’s fascinating – How have you found the time for this passion project?
I recently finished up a work contract which meant I had the capacity to take on a new side project. Someone once told me “You’ll always find time to do what’s important to you” and I live by that saying every day now.
How long have you been contracting and what type of roles have you been doing?
I’ve been contracting for over 12 years. Most of my work has been in the telecommunications industry in roles such as Bid Manager, Enterprise Architect, Programme Manager, Project Manager and OSS Toolset Specialist.
What do you enjoy about contracting?
There are three main reasons that I have continued to contract over time:
- I enjoy the freedom of consulting.
- As a consultant you’re not a threat to anyone’s jobs or long-term career aspirations, so you’re able to get in and get the job done without others feeling like you’re taking their jobs (which can happen as an employee).
- You can decide which job/s you want to work on, with very clear deliverables.
What is a tip you would give to someone setting out in contracting?
- Definitely go through an agency like Entity Solutions if possible, as going direct will mean you’ll need your own company and insurances. Also payment terms with some of the larger companies can be up to 60 days, so cashflow can be a challenge!
- Set expectations early on your outcomes and aim to over-deliver on every engagement.
- Be honest with your time. I’ve seen lots of contractors over-charge for time, which may give them a good income for that project, but they’ll never be called back for another one.
We don’t like to focus on it but it’s unavoidable – how have you found COVID-19 both personally and professionally?
I work from home on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland when not travelling, and to be honest it’s been nice not to travel for a while. The only challenge has been having the kids at home (and bored) through the pandemic and asking them to turn the music down before every conference call!
It’s been refreshing to see corporations adopt the “work from home” mentality (they had no choice during COVID-19) and to see everyone suddenly realise that you CAN hold a successful meeting or workshop without jumping on a plane.
Finally, what’s next for the charity?
We set this up in late April and we’ve already had an amazing response from the community. We’ve already collected over 480 mobile phones. We’ve just announced our partnership with Jeep, which means people can drop their phones into ANY of the 69 Jeep dealerships Australia-wide and they will pay for the cost of shipping the phones to us to test and re-distribute.
Now that we have national coverage, we will be asking corporations to consider donating their old fleets of phones to us, as they often just store them in boxes as they don’t know what to do with them.
We’ll ensure that all phones are securely erased, get tested and then get passed onto victims of domestic violence here in Australia.
To find out more about contracting with Entity Solutions, read more here.