While there are undoubtedly a myriad of factors that are at play when a young man takes the ‘wrong path’, one of the most common and impactful for so many is a lack of mentorship. As troubling statistics have long suggested a correlation between male youth offending and lack of presence of a father, the need for role models only grows. It is estimated that roughly 8,000 New Zealand boys between the age of 7-14 live without any contact with their father (around 1/6th of single parent households).
This is where charity organisations like Big Buddy come in. The Kiwi-based non-profit connects boys (between the age of 7-14) without a male role model in the home with community volunteers, who act as a friend and mentor to their little buddy during these crucial years of their development. The program was started by Richard Aston back in 1998, but was handed off in 2017 to Paul Burns, who has headed the charity as CEO ever since. Under Burns, the charity has gone from strength to strength and back in June, Big Buddy hit the milestone facilitating its 1,000th buddy partnership, exemplifying the impact that the charity has been able to achieve.
Burns himself has worn many hats in his career; he spent the early portion of his working life as a chef, working in one of esteemed Kiwi chef Simon Gault’s restaurants along the Auckland Viaduct in the 1990’s. Burns then turned his attention to the corporate world and spent the better part of a decade working in sales for industry giant Fonterra. After stints in business management roles for food companies, JBS and AsureQuality, Burns opted to take on a very different, arguably more rewarding role in joining up with Big Buddy and has spent the last four years devoting his time to ensuring the charity continues to make progress on the fantastic work they have been doing in having a positive influence in the lives of young boys.
Outside of his career, Burns has found success in the sports world, as he has competed in three Ironman triathlon competitions, as well as previously representing New Zealand in track cycling. Big Buddy isn’t Burns’ only notable involvement in the community, as he also sits as chairman of one of New Zealand’s biggest football clubs, Pakuranga-based Fencibles United AFC.
We at M2 are delighted to have the pleasure of including Paul Burns as one of the nine speakers at our upcoming M2 Summit. Find out more about M2 Summit and buy tickets here.
Top image courtesy of bigbuddy.org.nz