Conversation with Lockton Advisory CEO John Philipsz: Ronald McDonald House Charities - Walk In My Shoes Initiative

At Lockton, we’re proud to support more than 250 organisations across the globe including Ronald McDonald House in Australia.

This year, Lockton Advisory CEO John Philipsz participated in their CEO Walk In My Shoes initiative and stayed overnight at the Ronald McDonald House in Greater Western Sydney, next to Westmead Children's Hospital.

John RMHC CEO Walk in my Shoes

What is the initiative?

Every year, Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) hold their CEO Walk In My Shoes initiative, a 24-hour immersive event where they invite Australian business leaders such as CEOs, Senior Managers, and Board Members to participate in volunteering at the Ronald McDonald Family Houses and spend a night walking in the shoes of families living there.
The event allows participants to gain an understanding of what a family experience is like when they learn their child is facing a serious illness and must be away from home for life-saving care.

Founded in 1974 in Philadelphia, USA, RMHC's mission to this day is to create and support the well-being of children, teenagers and their families who are impacted by a serious illness or injury.

The charity provides houses for children and their families to stay together, allow time away from hospital wards and be cared for in a homely environment.

Globally, RMHC currently has 378 Ronald McDonald Houses in 62 countries and regions, including 18 houses across Australia. RMCH Australia also consists of 18 family rooms, 5 family retreats and multiple learning programs such as the National Learning Programs that help over 1,300 students weekly to catch up on their education. Today, RMHC Australia supports more than 40,000 families each year.

Meet John

John has 25 years of industry experience, primarily working within capital markets, advisory and reinsurance. He has also held various roles within the investment banking industry across the UK, Japan and the US. We spoke to John about his RMHC Walk in My Shoes experience and how impactful the initiative is.

Why did you participate in the event this year?

My wife and I have four young kids. We saw first-hand the enormously positive benefit of close family support recently when our son’s good friend was recently hospitalised for an extended period of time with an acute illness.

Allowing families to stay together, free from all other concerns while they care for their child is incredibly powerful and to see it firsthand at RMHC was hugely humbling.

How was the 24-hour overnight immersion experience for you? What activities did you and the other CEOs participate in? 

The 24-hour program meant we managed to pack in a wide variety of activities, starting with a house tour and presentation on all the services/support provided by the organisation for families with children at Westmead Hospital.

We then went straight from this tour to dinner preparation for the residents. With all 60 rooms full, this meant cooking for around 190 people!

Dinner options included Beef Stroganoff, gourmet sausages, pasta as well as a variety of salads, vegetables and potatoes. The dessert was apple pie with custard or ice cream.

After cleaning and washing up from dinner, we had a scenario session to understand what it would be like to receive the news that your child is sick. Turned out this was part 1 of the session.

Part 2 involved us being woken up at 1am to complete the experience of an urgent rush to the hospital and all the decisions that would have to be made when confronted with difficult news and you have to get your child to the hospital with some urgency.

The next day involved cooking breakfast for the families, followed by a hospital school tour at Westmead, a session with the CEO of RMHC GWS and a meeting with the mother of a child who had spent 183 days at Westmead Children’s Hospital (and Ronald McDonald House). This was confronting but also very uplifting to understand how positive the service had been to this family. 

The final session before the end of the 24 hours was brainstorming on fundraising opportunities for the charity.

What was the most rewarding aspect of the experience? 

I think the opportunity to spend some time with families who were staying at RMH or had stayed there was the most fulfilling. Whilst the reasons for being there were obviously unimaginably tough for them, the House provided a real backbone of positive support and allowed families to share their burdens with some hugely committed and wonderful staff as well as families going through the same difficult time. It is a real beacon of support and hope.

What is your advice to other senior leaders and CEOs about volunteering and participating in charities such as Ronal McDonald House?

Get involved! There is no greater way of gaining some positive perspectives and a sense of balance than committing time and support for those who need it most.  

Lockton thanks John for his fundraising and volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House. John raised over $2,000 and with 8 other CEOs, collectively raised an incredible $45,000 which provides 286 nights of support.

If you would like to know more about Ronald McDonald House Charities, visit their website here. (opens a new window)

If you are an Australian business leader or know one who would be interested in participating in RMHC CEO Walk In My Shoes, please visit their website here. (opens a new window)