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Man of Fibre: Jordan O'Reilly

August 8, 2017

By M.J. Bale Staff

From Sydney to Buckingham Palace, this is the global journey of Hireup CEO and co-founder, Jordan O’Reilly, in his own words. Rise up, hire up...

If you’d told me five years ago I’d be meeting Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, I’d have probably just laughed. Especially because Hireup - the reason I was meeting her - didn’t even exist yet.

The idea for Hireup was born out of sheer frustration: the desire to overhaul a broken system of support that had people with disabilities and their families feeling completely powerless.

My younger brother Shane had a disability and relied on one-on-one care every day. Growing up, we were opening the front door every day to different workers that third-party agencies had sent. Some were great, others weren’t so great, but what was unacceptable was the disempowerment my brother and my family felt, having no choice or control over who was providing such personal care and support on a daily basis.

While studying to become an Occupational Therapist at University, I became a support worker myself and got to see first-hand how the traditional care and support systems failed to serve workers, too. I was sent into homes knowing nothing about who I was about to support, often being completely the wrong person to meet that individual’s needs.

And it was those two experiences - being the sibling of someone who relied on support, as well as being a support worker myself - that got me thinking, ‘Surely there’s a better way of doing things!’ There had to be a better way: a way to bring people seeking support, as well as some of the best and brightest support workers in the country together, directly, for the first time, with the use of technology. And I’m very proud to say that’s exactly what we’ve done.

In 2015 my sister and I launched www.hireup.com.au, a brand new online platform to connect people with disability and their support workers directly. Hireup is a platform that removes the agency middle man and puts users in full control – choosing the type of support they receive, by who, and when. In the process, users are saving huge amounts of time and money, while exercising far greater choice and control.

It’s remarkable to say that since launching we’ve had over 12,000 people sign up to Hireup, we’ve saved our users (people with disability) over $1.5 million in support funding, delivered over 250,000 hours of support and created thousands of strong new support relationships right across Australia. And while I always knew this sort of impact was possible, receiving an award from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, as part of the Queen’s Young Leader’s Award, was never something I could’ve imagined.

Going to the UK for the Queen’s Young Leader’s Awards was one of those surreal experiences that you can’t truly appreciate until it’s all over!

Jordan O'Reilly

First up, after leaving Sydney for London, I’d just landed at Heathrow Airport and was walking up to passport control. The passport officer didn’t seem too happy to meet me, barely looking up to ask the purpose of my visit. Telling him I had arrived to meet the Queen probably didn’t help his mood, until he was finally convinced I wasn’t joking. After I explained Hireup, his eyes lit up and his face softened as he told me about his father who had recently endured a major stroke and was now fully reliant on round-the-clock attendant care and support. He went on to tell me about his family’s disappointment with the traditional support systems, which he felt was unnecessarily costly, inefficient and disempowering.

It was an all-too familiar story – after all, Hireup was created out of this very realisation– but this experience as I entered the country, along with the rest of my time in the UK, gave me the very real sense that Hireup’s time is now. In fact, the time is now for any idea that puts people with disability, their families and supporters at the centre of their own lives. With a global movement toward individualisation of funding for people requiring support, and the proliferation of incredible technology that allows us to do so much more than before, it became clear that Hireup’s theory of change and the mode of delivery is truly universally applicable. Sometimes it takes some perspective to realise this.

Next, the chance to meet 60 of the Commonwealth’s brightest young leaders, all working on inspiring social and environmental impact projects across the Commonwealth, was very refreshing. In a seemingly more divided world, this two-week trip was a humbling reminder that throughout the Commonwealth, and indeed around the world, the commonalties we share are much more powerful than any of the things which divide us. And this is especially true for those working to create a better world for people with disability in their respective communities. The people I met and the projects I learned about, in countries ranging from Malta to Ghana, showed me just how much innovation is really out there, but also how lucky we are to live in Australia right now. There’s never been a better time or a greater opportunity to be able to make a difference in the lives of others in our community, no matter how big or small.

Jordan O'Reilly

Then, getting to meet eminent world leaders such as Sir John Major, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Patricia Scotland, secretary general of the Commonwealth, his Royal Highness Prince Harry and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth –really attested to the fact that Hireup happens to be a genuinely universal concept. And thanks to our supporters, that small concept has turned into a reality.

I’m incredibly proud to represent the Hireup community everywhere I go, and this time it just happened to be Buckingham Palace. But no matter where I go or who I meet, I’m always very clear on one thing: without the people we call the Hireup community, and without the people who support us, Hireup would still be a simple idea and no more.

To top off an extraordinary trip, I was also delighted to be representing another innovative Australian brand in M.J. Bale. When the team heard I was off to Buckingham Palace, they kindly offered to dress me in one of their most iconic suits, the Inaba blue ‘single-source’ Kingston suit, which was definitely fit for a Queen!

Having the opportunity to meet with the team at M.J. Bale, I genuinely got to see their desire to meet and work with likeminded individuals who are doing good things in the Australian community. M.J. Bale’s values - classicism, authenticity, integrity and character – shine through in their work and their products and I was delighted to have the opportunity to represent such an elegant Australian brand while I was in the UK.

The entire trip reminded me of one universal truth that I’ve known to be true for some time: that none of us every really achieve anything significant on our own. We’re all reliant on the people that support us and the people we represent in equal measure, and to achieve something really great, you’re going to need great people around you from the start.

From those in the Hireup community through to organisations like M.J. Bale, I’ve been extremely lucky to have positive people backing my vision and ambitions since day one. And for me, that’s the key to success.

To check out more about our work, and to follow our journey, visit: www.hireup.com.au.