Left to right: Jamie Clark, Angel Saysay, Gwen Bailey, Erica Makowski, Tim Massaquoi and Robert Grant
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”-Steve Jobs
After 32 years at Youth Service, Inc., Chief Financial Offer, Robert J. Grant will be retiring at the end of June. During his time at YSI, it has been the people he worked with and the communities served that have kept him motivated.
Grant started at YSI on January 4, 1986 as a financial consultant and then became a fulltime employee in June of 1986. Arriving at YSI came about through a chance meeting with a YSI board member who said, “I know this nonprofit in West Philly that really needs somebody like you.” After receiving that advice, he called Ted Levine, the then Executive Director, to set up a meeting.
“We came from two different places, I was from corporate America and he was from child welfare,” said Grant. “Interestingly when I left, I got a phone call within the hour and I came back, met with him (Levine) and the following week I started as an independent consultant.“
“It is a great thing to work with social workers. They listen, they may not always have the answer that you want, but it gives you a path to go down,” said Grant when speaking of the guidance he received.
He also credits working alongside social workers to helping him look at his work in a new light.
“I really give credit to my association with social workers, who I never knew before starting here. I grew up in the suburbs, I went to Villanova and I went to work in corporate America, so it was just ‘what is this world’ (about social work), it was something totally new, but more fulfilling than a paycheck,” said Grant. “I was always bottom line driven because that is what my teaching taught me, never mission driven, and it is interesting how the two really do co-mingle. When you realize that you are working for the good of other people, it kind of is like the bottom line in corporate America.”
Finding that perfect balance between being bottom line driven and mission driven is often where success lies, according to Grant’s experiences at YSI.
“What I have really learned is that the right decision is made somewhere between the head and the heart, the social worker thinks with the heart, the accountant thinks with the head, but it is really in between the two that is the right answer,” said Grant. “If you can strike that balance, you’ll be successful and so will the organization.”
And there have been plenty of successes and fond memories during Grant’s tenure at YSI, both small and large. There have been clients graduating from high school and college, finding permanent housing, securing a job, and so on.
“There are so many, it is just phenomenal,” said Grant when asked about some of his favorite memories at YSI. “Opening the new shelter (Youth Emergency Service) building in Fairmount was great. It is also as simple as being able to pay our bills every two weeks. That is a success story and I get a lot out of that.”
As for his plans for retirement, they are simple.
“Truly, it is to spend quality time with my family and I do have grandchildren,” said Grant. “It is really time to dwell on them for my own personal satisfaction. As a father and grandfather, I should be a mentor a job that is never finished. And it is time for me to spend more time with my wife, my children and my grandchildren and that is where I’m going to be.”