Lendi team joins Vinnies CEO Sleepout to help homeless

by Antony Field25 Jun 2021

Senior executives from the mortgage and finance industry have joined dozens of business leaders taking part in the 2021 Vinnies CEO Sleepout.

Among those gathered at White Bay Cruise Terminal in Sydney on a cold, clear winter’s night last Thursday, June 17, were four representatives from Lendi Group – chief operating officer Sebastian Watkins, chief marketing officer Zara Cobb, CEO David Hyman and CEO of distribution Brad Cramb (pictured).

The Lendi Group leaders gave up their beds for one night, sleeping outside on pieces of cardboard to support Vinnies’ support of the more than 116,000 Australians who don’t have a safe and secure place to live. The team from Lendi collectively raised more than $46,000 for Vinnies, well above its target of $25,000.

The 2021 Vinnies CEO Sleepout was on track to raise more than $8 million nationally to provide food, accommodation and essential services to people experiencing homelessness.

For Hyman, CEO of the Lendi Group which recently merged with Aussie Home Loans, it was the third time he had taken part in the CEO Sleepout.

“As a business we obviously help people get into homes every day of the week and some people aren’t as fortunate, so we thought we could lend a hand and raise some money to make it a little bit easier,” Hyman said. “It’s one of the most powerful things I’ve done to understand what the homeless endure living on the streets.”

“My fellow group executives and I, alongside other leaders in business, community, and government were so humbled by this experience to raise awareness and highlight the realities of homelessness.

Hyman said the Lendi Group was “incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support shown by everyone who took part and those who donated throughout the country.”

Cobb, who has long been a passionate advocate for ending homelessness, said it was her first time experiencing CEO Sleepout “on the ground”, with COVID restrictions last year meaning she and other Lendi executives, including Hyman and Watkins, slept at work on the balcony.

“This is just really about grounding yourself and giving back,” said Cobb. “We’re in very privileged position both in the business and the roles that we’re in. I think it’s really important to take a minute and step away from that and hear other people’s stories.”

At the event, Cobb said she heard about an Argentinian woman who came to Australia with her husband – they were a successful couple. She left her husband due to domestic violence and he took the youngest child with him to Argentina and left her with nothing.

“Today’s story resonated a lot with me being a female. I think you think you’re invincible to this and would do it differently or do it better and then you hear of a strong female who got into that position through no fault of her own.”

Watkins said with so many people struggling, it was important to get a real insight into what it’s like to sleep rough, while for Cramb, who was taking part in his first sleepout, he said it was a fulfilling opportunity to help people to get back on their feet.

Other finance industry executives who took part in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout in Sydney included ANZ Sydney CBD district manager Nick Marval, QBE Lenders Mortgage Insurance CEO Phil White (taking part in his sixth sleepout), Simplicity Loans and Advisory managing director Jean-Pierre Gortan, GetCapital CEO Jamie Osborn and Lumi founder and CEO Yanir Yakutiel.

See the photos and read the full story on the 2021 Vinnies CEO Sleepout in Sydney in the upcoming edition of Australian Broker, which hits desks on 12 July.