We couldn’t be happier to welcome our new CEO Phil Usher to the First Nations Foundation. We sat down for a chat…
Tell us about your background…
I’m a proud Wiradjuri man from Central NSW. Dad grew up around the Parkes Dubbo area and that’s where a lot of family are, but I grew up in Tamworth so I have a strong cultural connection there. I went to a high school that had around 30% Aboriginal student population which meant there was always a lot of culture about; plenty of food, dance and music. I’ve actually been fortunate enough to share the stage with uncle Roger Knox and play in a band with his grandsons.
After high school I went to University to study a Business degree that lead to working in the public service. I managed the Sydney Indigenous community team for Centrelink, which was equal parts challenging and rewarding.
I obtained financial planning qualifications and moved into a financial consulting role before leaving the public service to be a business advisor.
Why are you so passionate about financial prosperity for First Nations people?
We are at a really exciting time for Aboriginal people around financial prosperity. We are now seeing Indigenous employment go beyond the entry level roles and into management and quite senior roles in the workforce. This means a significant growth in income where we now have that opportunity to start creating a wealth legacy for our families. With the right education and implementation, we’ll start to see intergenerational wealth being passed down and finally having Aboriginal people start in front of the eight-ball.
What are your priorities for the first 90 days as CEO of First Nations Foundation?
The first 90 days will be all about people. Internally that is ensuring that staff are on board with the strategic direction of the Foundation and providing them with the necessary tools and support to excel in their role. Externally, it’s about getting face to face with our current partners whilst building new partnerships to propel the organisation forward.
What is your long-term vision for First Nations Foundation?
My vision for the foundation is to be the leading educator and authority on all things relating to Indigenous finance and wealth. We are seeing a rise in the Indigenous middle class and there is a real opportunity to consolidate that and turn it into intergeneration wealth.
Becoming a core component of a Reconciliation Action Plan will be a big part of that. If we can motivate organisations to commit to the financial wellbeing of their Indigenous employees, that would have massive flow-on effects for the wider community.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
On a week-to-week basis it’s either playing guitar or playing with my two Schnauzer pups that are too cute to ignore! Outside of that I love travelling with my wife. We managed to get to fifteen countries last year including spending Easter lunch in Italy with my wife’s family. That 9-course meal was something to tick off the bucket list!
What is one fact about yourself that might surprise us?
I love baking! My new year’s resolution in 2019 was to learn how to bake. I find the process of making breads, pastries and desserts almost like a meditation, not to mention tasty. In my down time I’m often watching SBS food to get inspiration for my next cooking conquest.