Regional Development Australia Sunshine Coast has appointed highly accomplished businesswoman Ariane Luff as our new Research and Grants Coordinator.
Here, we profile Ariane’s achievements, passions and interests in the wake of her joining the team.
Ariane will play an integral role in our grants business and project management for 2019. Please join us in welcoming Ariane and making her feel at home.
Q: You’ve got a very accomplished background, having worked in non-profit strategy and project development overseas – what’s brought you back to the Coast?
A: I am from the Coast originally; I went to school here, but left when I was 17 and have been overseas since. My husband, myself and my now four-year-old moved back from Kenya in 2017 for the birth of my second son. My husband and I had both travelled extensively for work for years and felt it was time to take a break and focus on the family.
Q: Given your extensive background in grant-writing and fundraising, what are you most looking forward to in your new role as a Research and Grants Coordinator at RDASC?
A: I am really looking forward to having the opportunity to become more involved in regional development and to see how the skills I’ve acquired in international development translate to our local context. I hope to be able to contribute significantly to building RDASC’s grants program and in delivering its Grants for Growth series to support small businesses, start-ups and not-for-profit organisations who often do not have the time, funds and/or access to the skills, knowledge and resources required to submit competitive grant and funding applications.
Q: You speak four languages – English, French, Italian and Spanish – can you please share how this has aided your career.
A: I would say that languages were a launching pad for my career. I started out as a translator and interpreter and got a job coordinating translation for asylum-seekers which led me to get more involved in migration and it all started from there. But I also think that speaking the language in countries that I’ve had the opportunity to live or travel in has allowed me to engage and interact with the culture and the people in a more in-depth way, which I really enjoy. Essentially, it helps not to feel like a tourist. I would also say that having worked mostly in international environments, it has always proven to be an asset to be able to interact with members of the team in their own language in terms of relationship building.
Q: What do you see as the biggest opportunities for RDASC in the next two years?
A: RDASC has some exciting projects in the pipeline such as advocating for improved transport, leveraging investment in the Sunshine Coast Airport expansion and supporting regional innovation opportunities like the International Broadband Submarine Cable. In my role as Research and Grants Coordinator, my focus will be on research and project management, but I also look forward to continuing the great work of my predecessor in terms of building up the grants program; in terms of outreach to local businesses and community groups.
There are so many funding opportunities out there, but it can be quite overwhelming for businesses or organisations to identify opportunities and go through the process alone. That is where we are hoping to be able to support them, linking them with funding opportunities and providing guidance around the application process. RDASC is uniquely positioned to liaise with the different levels of government and the local community and we intend to leverage this to maximise access to government grants in the region.
Q: If you could change one thing about the Sunshine Coast, what would it be?
A: We could use a little more diversity. The demographic composition of the Coast population has definitely changed since I grew up here – there is more diversity. But as a firm believer in the benefits of exposure to different cultures and ways of life, I am hopeful that the current trend of people moving from some of the bigger cities to live here will bring exciting opportunities in terms of cultural and ethnic diversity.
Q: What is the best business or life advice you’ve ever been given?
A: I would say pursue your dreams, but be ready to put in the hard work and get out of your comfort zone. My background is more on the not-for-profit side so in line with that, I would say I believe in persistence, hard work and in the power of the individual to make a difference. Each small decision that we make, even just being more conscious consumers, has a ripple effect that can go much farther than we imagine. A couple of my favourite quotes along these lines include:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.
“A rose started off a bud, a bird started off an egg, and a forest started off a seed.” – Matshona Dhliwayo
Q: What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your résumé alone?
A: I don’t know if it’s that interesting, but maybe it’s a fun fact. I got my first driver’s license and first car in South Sudan, a huge old Prado that could handle the very rough terrain. When I moved back to Australia, I managed to get an Australian license but almost failed the parking part of the exam as I was no longer used to parking between white lines (or any lines for that matter). I also became an avid squash player during this time as it was the only sport available in our compound.
Q: What are your passions outside of work?
A: I would say I am passionate about maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a healthy work-life balance. When I’m not working, I like to make the most of the Sunshine Coast lifestyle spending time at the beach or outdoors with my family (hubby, two kids and a dog).