This month, Parley spoke with Peter Herriman, the 2017 recipient of the Gordon L. Goldie Memorial Scholarship. Established in memory of The Goldie Company’s founder, this scholarship honours Gordon’s legacy and supports Humber College students who are on their way to creating meaningful change as fundraising professionals.
Peter, you recently received the Gordon L. Goldie Scholarship. Congratulations! What brought you to Humber College for the Fundraising Management program?
I like to say it’s been a life’s journey to get to Humber. As a child and teenager, I was a patient at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. As hard as my condition was for my parents and me, I always saw kids who had it tougher than I did. My situation was difficult, but seeing people who were having a harder time helped put things in perspective.
When I started going to the University of Toronto, I started getting involved in philanthropy. Working in the advancement office for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, I often asked my colleagues questions about their jobs. It occurred to me that philanthropic gifts had made it possible for SickKids to provide my treatment. I could see how kids could be helped – and, more specifically, how I could make a difference. It was like a light bulb turned on in my head.
In my fourth year, the Department of Classics invited me to attend an alumni dinner that allows current senior students to network with successful alumni from their programs. There, I met an alumnus who worked at SickKids as the Director of Major Gifts. At the dinner, I asked him what he looked for in a new hire. He referred me to the Humber program, and I decided right then to apply.
After the dinner, I ended up meeting all kinds of people who had studied what I studied – History and Classical Civilizations – and had found themselves working in philanthropy.
The Humber program offers a postgraduate certificate. What were you doing before you arrived at the college?
After I graduated, I worked as the Communications Officer at the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences, located on the University of Toronto campus. In fact, I stayed working there as a Development Coordinator while completing the Humber program. Learning about fundraising and working at a non-profit in parallel was a great experience. Most things I learned in class, I could put into practice right away on the job.
The Humber program requires that students complete an internship. Where will you be completing yours, and what do you hope to gain from the experience?
My internship is at the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation’s annual giving department. I’m looking forward to learning as much as I can, and to knowing the work we’re doing is making a difference for people. That makes “going to work” so much more than just doing a job.
What’s next for you, Peter? What’s your dream job?
At Humber, one of our assignments involved completing a job shadow. Mine took place at the major gifts department at SickKids. During a tour of the facility, we took an elevator with a man who I assume was the father of a patient. In that short ride, he told us his child’s story. I wondered why he was telling us, but then I realized he just needed to talk to somebody. I know hospitals. I’ve been the family as well as the patient. He had so much stress and fear; he needed to let it out.
That moment solidified my conviction about my career choice. Working in philanthropy is my life’s pursuit. Annual giving, major gifts, and corporate sponsorships – these particular interests of mine give me a way to help people. If I can be involved in making a difference for kids and families, it will be my honour.
One last question, Peter: What are a few things you’ve learned at Humber that you’ll apply in your career?
Participating in the Humber program has taught me more than I could have imagined. We’ve learned some very practical skills, such as reading financial statements, but we’ve also been challenged with some creative assignments, including designing a campaign for the Canadian Red Cross. I gained lots of insight from these exercises, and I know I’ll continue to reach for my textbooks as my career develops.