Save the Children CEO and alum advises on non-profit work

Danielle Taylor, Staff Writer

After graduating from the University, CEO and President of Save the Children Carolyn Miles ’83 said she found herself trying to make enough money to pay off her student loans, like most other college students post-graduation.

Miles spoke at the University on Nov. 5 as the fourth featured speaker this semester in the School of Management’s Walling Lecture Series. 

Before becoming a CEO, Miles was an Animal Behavior major who intended to be a veterinarian. Miles found her first job in sales when she was given the opportunity to travel to Hong Kong as part of a program at American Express, which was a life-changing experience. When traveling through the city, there were people begging at every stoplight. She noticed that compared to her life, the people surrounding her had little to no opportunities. Once Miles returned to the United States, she decided it was time to contribute to the world.

Miles joined Save the Children in 1998. She served as COO from 2004-2011, and became president and CEO in September of 2011. During her senior leadership tenure, the organization has more than doubled the number of children it reaches with nutrition, health, education, and other programs. Her current focus for the organization involves a multi-goal plan to be fulfilled by 2030. The goals are to eradicate death from preventable causes in children under the age of five, help every child receive a good education, and change the way the world thinks about violence against children, among other goals.

As CEO, there are three things that Miles spends most of her time on: ensuring the success of the 2030 vision, building followers, and getting other people to believe in and support the vision.

“It is really important for a leader to choose a couple of areas where they really want to make a difference,” Miles said.

One of her other main focuses is ending childhood hunger. With more than enough food on this planet, Miles believes that there is no reason children should go hungry.

Miles cautioned that working for a non-profit organization is not an easy career when coming right out of undergraduate school, but advised students hoping to make a difference in the world to start early and be sure to always do what they are good at.

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