National Volunteering Week - Shean's Story

To give an idea of how Shean Gannon ended up volunteering with us, his story starts with a passion for business, adventure, and a deep commitment to making a difference. From growing up on a dairy farm in the small town of Tinamba, nestled in the heart of Victoria's Shire of Wellington, to the far reaches of Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Tanzania, Shean's journey is one of growth and transformation. 

After studying civil engineering in Melbourne, Shean embarked on a successful career in the construction industry. With his education and entrepreneurial spirit, he moved to Fiji with his young family and started his first company. From this, he had the opportunity to work on construction projects throughout the Fiji Islands, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Kiribati and Tuvalu for AusAid, World Bank, Defence Force, and Fijian government departments. 

After this time, Shean moved to Tanzania, East Africa, for 3 years to volunteer at the school of St Jude; "I enjoy a challenge, and I enjoy the interaction with people who are always eager to learn," he says. Shean grappled with adapting to a new culture and navigating unfamiliar territory. However, he is always up for a challenge; he learned to speak basic Shawali and embraced his work teaching. 

Seeking to further expand his horizons and take on a new challenge, Shean joined ABV (Australian Business Volunteers) in 2019, and his commitment took him on two remarkable international assignments, first as a mentor in Lae, PNG and then to the shores of Suva, Fiji, for the launch of the Fiji Thrive Program, "Both were great experiences, but Fiji was my favourite, as I feel at home in Fiji." 

During his recent trip with ABV's Fiji Thrive Program, Shean put his experience of launching successful small businesses to work, collaborating with local entrepreneurs and mentoring them through the program. One lesson he learned across different cultures was the importance of valuing one's time. Shean has encountered many small business owners who underestimate the worth of their labour, "We had one designer who would only charge $12 for three or four days of work," he says. Shean encourages and empowers business owners to take the time to understand their financials and ensure that they pay themselves a fair wage. 

Shean shares why he chooses to volunteer with ABV, "What makes ABV stand out is the research they put into the projects they are sending volunteers to," he says. "When you go on an ABV Assignment, you know you will deliver something meaningful, and you will have the support to do it."  

Shean loves the innovation and the level of opportunity he can access with ABV, "You know the work you're doing; the mentoring is building something sustainable that will have a greater benefit in the long term." Shean attributes this to the unique collaboration between ABV and the private sector, "It's not every day that not-for-profits work with other businesses and large corporations so effectively." 

Beyond his work with ABV, Shean found joy in sailing, and is a member of the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard. Wherever he may find himself in the world, Shean remains dedicated to volunteering, driven by an unwavering belief in the importance of giving back.  

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