Deskside Chat with the Board: Andrew Vogel

June 12, 2024
Hyesun Ahn

Welcome to Children’s Institute, Andrew. Since you are new to Children’s Institute, could you please introduce yourself and share some insights about your journey up to this point?

I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia, and I’ve always been very driven. I started at KPMG right out of high school. So, while working full time, I was also attending university. After about 10 years of establishing myself professionally in Australia, I decided to move to the biggest market in the world, the United States. I have been with KPMG for over 20 years. I am currently a Principal & Leader in KPMG’s advisory practice.

Throughout my life, I’ve been committed to giving back to my community. In high school, I was the Head of Community & Social Services, which was foundational to my current priorities in corporate philanthropy. In 2009, I lived in an Aboriginal community in Australia called Aurukun, for four months to help the community establish a timber milling business through an Indigenous reconciliation program.

Aurukun is an extremely remote place, but what makes this area interesting, is that the people who live on that land live on bauxite, which is a compound that is used to produce aluminum. Through this program, I helped the community create their business plan and permit to successfully obtain a timber milling license through the government so that they could properly fell the timber and start their business. This would allow them, as traditional stewards of the land, to benefit from its resources. With my continued desire to give back to the community, I joined KPMG’s Family for Literacy Program in Los Angeles which serves low-income communities by aiming to eradicate childhood illiteracy and most currently, became a member of the Board at Children’s Institute.

What about Children’s Institute’s mission and north star attracts you to the agency?

I come from a humble, working-class family and my parents worked their backsides off to give me an education. Since my youth, I have felt the need to give back. So, here I am doing something I’m passionate about! In this role, I hope to influence others and give of myself through different opportunities – not only through corporate donations and dollars but also by providing pathways to internship and career opportunities.

One of the reasons why I’m passionate about joining Children’s Institute is that my mother was once a school librarian for 30 years and was also passionate about childhood education.

Children’s Institute emphasizes the importance of early childhood education, in addition to providing material support, in safe environments, ultimately, providing pathways to a better life. That resonates with me.

What would you like to achieve while you’re here?

On a macro-level, I want to make a lasting impact on the Board. I am currently on the program and finance committees, and at a bare minimum, I’d like to ensure that finance is a real partner to the overall business.

My skills set includes assisting clients in thinking through their problems in a holistic manner. I help clients improve their business operationally; ranging from enabling tech to streamlining processes to thinking through how organizations should be run and governed. I would like to apply the same rigor I’ve learned from KPMG to Children’s Institute – to be forward-thinking, while asking the right questions to support improvements that benefit the overall organization.

Can you think of a childhood memory that has both impacted you and led you to this point?

The memory I have is three-fold. First, is in memory of my mother and her desire to help children. There’s something innate in me that wants to continue her legacy. Second,

from my own childhood, I was always encouraged to serve others, whether that was through my parents or my school. I was always motivated to serve the community.

Finally, I had an amazing childhood growing up in Australia where I didn’t have much to worry about. I had access to lots of clean, outdoor space and an excellent education – I was brought up in a wonderful society. I couldn’t have had a better childhood, so I want that for others.

What are some of your favorite hobbies?

From childhood onward, I have loved sports – rugby, cricket and Australian Olympic sports. A big part of my life was being outdoors, running, swimming in the ocean – things that drew me to live in Los Angeles.

I’m also an avid reader. I especially love reading about American history because I appreciate learning about the ideals that American society was founded on as they’re very different from Australia’s.

One of my favorite novels is, “A Team of Rivals,” which is about Abraham Lincoln, and his Cabinet during the Civil War. He had a team of people around him that would challenge his ideas. Members of his own Cabinet would work against him, yet those were moments that helped him rise above to forget his own path to victory. These types of stories are what I love to read, because they help me reflect on how to become a better leader – even in my role as a Board member.

My favorite childhood book is “Charlotte’s Web.” I’m fond of it because it’s a heartfelt children’s story but more importantly, because it connected me to my mother.