How a Westpac Social Change Fellowship expanded my impact

2024 Westpac Social Change Fellows


Reflections from Nicholas Marchesi OAM, Co-Founder Orange Sky and 2023 Westpac Social Change Fellow.


At the time of applying for a Westpac Social Change Fellowship, I was 28. The last eight years had been a quest to grow Orange Sky to help as many people as possible, but in 2022, when I completed my application, I was ready to dream big again.


The application was tough, really tough. I never really liked writing, especially about myself so the idea of designing a development plan for myself was foreign, but that’s when I started thinking deeply about my development and my goals for the future. I realised my vision for change was even bolder and how the fellowship could be the gamechanger I need to achieve my audacious goals.


I want to be able to lead and deliver a portfolio of ventures that change the world.  Orange Sky supports Australians experiencing homelessness, but I want to expand this to impact the highest need communities worldwide.


To do this, I recognised I needed to connect, learn and grow, and the bespoke Leadership Development Plan I designed in collaboration with Westpac Scholars Trust was going to help me do this.


The process helped me identify I needed to be a more curious and connected leader. One which listens to and inspires teams to deliver impact. I need to be skilled in understanding and responding to our globes’ ‘wicked problems’ and be able to innovate ways of delivering ventures that are focused, resourced and sustainable.


So, over the last twelve months I spent time travelling around the world. I went to the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and India as well as most major cities in Australia.


  • I connected with global corporate leaders from Google, Amazon and Virgin and learnt the importance of strategic scaling – to grow sustainability while maintaining quality and impact.
  • I met with innovators in social enterprise at The Washing Machine Project and other initiatives and learnt about the power of genuinely involving the community to achieve community-led innovation.
  • I connected with academic and design experts and learnt to approach problems creatively, always considering the user experience and leveraging design to solve complex social issues.
  • I met with philanthropy and non-profit leaders and learnt to be flexible and responsive to change in the ever-evolving landscape of social entrepreneurship.
  • I connected with the 2023 Westpac Social Change Fellows throughout the year and at our final reflection retreat. This was a truly enlightening experience and a great way to conclude the fellowship. There were so many meaningful learnings that came about from sharing our experiences. I deeply admire each of them and now call them lifelong friends.


The experiences afforded to me as part of the Westpac Social Change Fellowship have profoundly impacted my life and leadership by offering me unparalleled opportunities for growth and learning. Connecting with global leaders and innovators expanded my understanding of what it means to drive social change effectively. It sharpened my strategic thinking and enhanced my ability to communicate complex ideas clearly and persuasively.


The insights gained from shadowing executives and engaging with groundbreaking projects provided me with a broader perspective on tackling social challenges innovatively and sustainably.


The experience has not only deepened my commitment to social justice but has also equipped me with the tools to lead more effectively, inspire my teams and expand the reach of our initiatives at Orange Sky to improve the wellbeing of Australians. I’ve become more adaptive, thoughtful and proactive in my approach, ensuring that we not only meet the immediate needs of the communities we serve but also foster long-term improvements in their lives.


Nicholas Marchesi co-founded Orange Sky in 2014 to provide a platform for everyday Australians to connect through a regular laundry and shower service. The organisation seeks to support 40,000 people doing it tough by 2025. 

If you’re a social leader curious about applying for a Westpac Social Change Fellowship find out more by visiting our fellowship webpage. 2025 applications close at 5:00pm AEST Wednesday 24 July, 2024.

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