Conversations: Rog Chhabra, ArtsReady

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Rog Chhabra’s role within ArtsReady sees him work with young Australians to get their foot in the door towards a career in arts and other creative industries. By supporting their transition from secondary education to the wider community, often involving relocations from hometowns to the major cities, and facilitating placements in the right kind of work environments, Rog provides guidance and empowers a new generation towards success.

Tell us about ArtsReady and its audience.
ArtsReady is a national program that works in partnership with young people to provide them with entry-level opportunities in arts and creative industries through the employment/ education model. ArtsReady is an initiative of the AFL SportsReady program and is supported by the Federal government. In this program, we work with young people between ages of 16 and 24 years; however, there is no upper age limit. Our target audience also includes businesses and organisations that are either a part of the creative industries or are willing to give young people an opportunity to work and learn with them.

How can Australian entrepreneurs, start-ups, and SME businesses encourage youth employment?
The Australian way of life is different compared to other countries. Young people here start their work life early by undertaking different roles in supermarkets, fast food outlets, restaurants etc. This is a great model if executed correctly, however many of these young people are not shown a professional path beyond their initial roles and often end up with either low or no career aspirations. My suggestion to entrepreneurs, start-ups and businesses is to involve young people from the community, give them meaningful opportunities, and to communicate with local schools. Work experience opportunities are great but need to be made more tangible.

Non-profit organisations affect lives by making a positive change, but face several challenges to building success stories. What are the key challenges you face in your role today?
Non-profit organisations assist people directly and help communities grow as a whole. The challenges we face are no different to any other organisation. The majority of the time challenges are economic, but the most difficult ones are the social and cultural barriers that take longer to overcome, and can be achieved over time, through education and by setting examples. Non-profit organisations set a great example of overcoming challenges with flexibility, and their ability to act swiftly to changes.

What do you do when experiencing a low point, and how do you celebrate the highs?
This answer may not resonate with many people but the first thing I do during a low point is sleep as much as I can. Sleeping allows my body and brain to rest, which helps me think clearly and find effective solutions to a problem. The way I celebrate my success depends on various factors. For personal success, I celebrate with close friends and family over dinner. For professional ones, I involve my colleagues. I believe success and good news stories must be shared as it may motivate someone else to do good for the community.

What does success mean to you?
While this may seem cliché, I find this to be the most straightforward way of defining success:
S Swift – Act quickly and responsibly
U Understand – Know your market, audience, product or service
C Collaborate – Don’t fight a lonely battle, collaborate and participate where possible
C Culture – Be proud of your roots and establish a culture of transparency & equality
E Environment – Respect your environment, respect the community you operate
S Standard – Pick a standard and stick to it, under promise and over deliver
S Simple – Keep it simple and to the point; there is a lot of cluttered jargon in the market

How would you describe your dream lifestyle?
My dream lifestyle would be to work in a super-connected society where we all work to help each other, almost like the ancient times of barter system but with a modern take on it with the help of technology.

If you had a magic wand, what would you change right here, right now?
The first thing that I would change immediately is access to clean water and food for everyone on our planet. As necessities, I don’t see any reason why people are still dying of hunger and thirst. This problem may not need a magic wand if we all learn to share and avoid unnecessary wastage of resources.


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