Interview with 180 Degrees Global Executive Director, Ed MillerDecember 21, 2016
Q : How did you initially get involved with 180?
A : When I arrived at University, 180 Degrees was in its first proper year of operation. I’d met Nat in high school, and he asked me to come on board as the first Consulting Director. At that stage the role was very different to what it is now. We needed to work out how to recruit students and approach clients from scratch. We didn’t have any partnerships with professional consultancies, so the methodology and training was all put together by that early executive team. There was no way we could have known at the time, sitting in Nat’s college room, that 180 would grow to be the organisation it is today. It has been a thrilling journey. The chance to work with talented students, and passionate non-profit leaders, and watch both groups grow through their collaboration together… that’s still what gets me out of bed in the morning.
Q : What are the first 3 words that come to mind when you think of 180?
A : Empowering effective charity.
Q : What makes your involvement with 180 fulfilling?
A : It’s an incredible privilege to lead an organisation like 180. Whenever I see photos of people wearing 180 Degrees shirts for projects in Texas or Tashkent, I feel like I’m a part of something bigger than myself. I like working with young people who are both perceptive of the injustice in the world and anxious to reject the myth that there’s nothing they can do to help until they’re older, or richer, or more educated. The stories of their success are what I find fulfilling – whether it’s thousands more young girls receiving an education in coding through our work with AppCamps, or tens of thousands of additional people with access to fresh water because of our successful engagement with Essential Need. Those are the stories that bind us together as an organisation – there is good being done every day, on almost every continent, under the 180 banner.
Q : Where do you want to see 180 in two years from now?
A : There are some big changes in the pipeline for 180. From the online training platform we’re about to roll out, to substantial design and functionality improvements for our custom platform Compass, to improved project templates and guidelines to help people make the transition from being just a university student to a highly skilled social impact consultant. There are also some fundamental changes to our model that we are piloting – including tapping into new talent pools (retirees with industry experience looking to stay involved, veterans in the US looking to transition into the private sector). I expect within two years 180 will have over two hundred branches, will be completing over two thousand projects a year, and will be training close to 15,000 future social leaders each year. There are over 10 million non-profits in the world, that spend over $2 trillion dollars annually. Yet less than 1% of of charities have access to external strategic and operational advice. We need to keep growing so we can do something about that.
Q : What has 180 taught you?
A : In a year like 2016 where the news has so often been negative, 180 is a constant reminder that people are generally pretty good and want to do good. All anyone needs is to be given the skills and opportunity to help others, and they usually will. The scope and scale of the challenges we face in the world can sometimes be overwhelming… 180 has taught me that everyone has a contribution to make, that it’s worth making, and that it’s never too early to start.
Q : What do you do in your free time?
A : I read a lot. I play social netball on weekends (terribly) and FIFA with my housemates (less terribly). I’m an amateur photographer so I take plenty of bad pictures and very occasionally good ones. I also take every chance I get to travel to new places – I’ll be in Iceland this month if anyone has any suggestions.
Q : What is your favorite movie?
A : Before Sunrise – I’m a sucker for romance and Richard Linklater. I’m pretty excited about the new Star Wars too.