Brent Clayton: Redefining Modern Philanthropy

You’ve probably heard the saying ‘be the change you want to see in the world,’ and it’s a lovely reminder that people have the capacity to stir positive changes. These might be on a micro level, in a person’s daily life, or the macro level, creating change to support others and the wider communities. While people can create change that can have a significant impact on others, few people actively set out to make these changes. Change often comes with a considerable amount of personal risk, and it makes sense that most people never get to a point where they’re prepared to take that risk.

And then there are those who see opportunities to make a difference and wholeheartedly set out to be the change. Brent Clayton is one such individual, and he’s been working proactively since 2009 to disrupt, innovate, and improve access into the firefighting industry for the better.

Australia’s Fire Fighting Recruitment Expert

It might not sound world-changing initially, but when one considers that firefighting is regarded as one of the most stressful, high-risk careers in public service demanding an incredible amount of resilience, they realize the need for hiring the right people. Through firsthand experience, Brent realized the industry, he has dedicated his life to, had some significant flaws. He identified major loopholes in the process of recruitment of people with the right attributes to help support communities through this vital service.

Never being someone to settle for mediocrity, Brent turned his passion for supporting community and empowering the right people to step up into what he personally experienced as an enriching career into a hugely successful business venture. In 2009, he founded Fire Recruitment Australia, serving as its CEO from 2009 to 2020. Taking his personal experiences working within the industry and observing the unintentional barriers created by a rigorous and often ‘cloaked’ recruitment process, Brent turned his attention to coaching and training the right people to secure their dream career within firefighting.

His Belief, His Strength

Brent always believed his passion for providing opportunities for others was his strength. His vision, confidence, and commitment have helped him convert his ideas into a successful and much-needed reality.

Brent began his career in public service firstly within the military before becoming a correction’s officer. Although both of these pathways helped to further shape his passion for serving community, he quickly realized he needed a role that would not only utilize his strengths but test them to their limits.

In 2007, Brent completed his professional firefighter training and found a new calling within the fire service working through the ranks, within recruitment and as an instructor. Within this role, he saw the difficulty recruits faced during the recruitment process, which involves a series of rigorous evaluations, physical, psychological & psychometric tests. Unintentionally, this layered and rigorous process turned away excellent individuals purely because they didn’t have the knowledge and education around what each round of the process was seeking. Brent knew there was a better way so, in 2009, he founded Fire Recruitment Australia with one core purpose: to help coach and support the right people into a fulfilling and rewarding career within the fire service in Australia and abroad.

Despite acknowledging that the current recruitment process can be flawed, Brent has experienced significant backlash from the system over his attempts to demystify the process and provide individuals with the right level of support to help them succeed. This has only made Brent more determined to ensure what he set up continues delivering an exceptional service. Working with individuals to understand the recruitment process and what a career within the firefighting industry demands. In so doing, he knows he is boosting the education of those interested in the sector and helping to fully prepare and empower those dedicated enough to start the journey.

Brent hopes that the processes and support he has developed will encourage more people to consider firefighting as a viable career choice and create his philanthropic legacy in helping to build a world-class firefighting industry here in Australia. He has provided active service with 3 of the largest Fire Brigades in Australia and worked within Emergency Management Victoria.

He has worked with industry professionals as a mentor and trainer to develop a robust, rigorous and supportive recruitment system that helps ensure the right people get access to the right career.

Redefining Modern Philanthropy

Philanthropy has typically been defined as the gift or donation of financial compensation to support good causes or address a need within communities. But what if philanthropy could mean something different? What if philanthropy could be more proactive than simply donating money and instead focus on promoting the welfare of others in innovative ways?

Brent’s view on philanthropy lies in the idea that individuals have an obligation towards people if they find themselves in a leadership position. Those who have the capacity need to provide opportunities for others and find ways to give back to the communities they want to be a part of in positive ways. Brent believes that philanthropy is a means to perform those actions, so long as people can consider philanthropy under a different lens. His vision on giving back and building the industry has helped him channel his passion with his online programs, testing platforms and coaching. After serving as CEO for Fire Recruitment Australia from 2009 to 2020 he trained & installed a passionate team to ensure the values and level of service would continue to grow.

During his time as the CEO many helpful initiatives were created.

This includes the Fire Recruitment Australia podcast, and a number of books all focused on addressing different key aspects of beginning and sustaining a career within the firefighting sector.

The biggest initiative and one he is most proud of was the “diversity scholarship” at Fire Recruitment Australia. This was Brent’s last act as CEO. He wanted to contribute to the fire service by educating those who may not have the resources to do so themselves. He says that “this scholarship will build a more robust and diverse fire service which ultimately serves the community in a much more wholistic way”.

Forging Ahead

Combining a true entrepreneurial mindset with a philanthropic heart, Brent Clayton is redefining what it means to give back to the community he is passionate about in genuinely innovative ways. Changes can create ripple effects, starting small and expanding outwards to create greater and more significant change over time. If his current success and achievements are anything to go by, the world can expect to see a lot more ripples from Brent in the future.