Stephen Miller


“Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation. They will be the leaders of our country, the creators of our national wealth who care for and protect our people.” – Nelson Mandela via SOS Children’s Villages South Africa
Steve Miller has an ability to communicate with people from all walks of life and has an elephant heart for the children of South Africa. Influenced by his father, who stood as a judge during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Stephen also strives for integrity and respect, and attempts to weave these traits into our society by directing at the SOS Children’s Villages South Africa.

About my Life Mission | To be a good child, brother, husband, father and friend; and to understand and be useful to the people around me.

My Definition of Success | You’re successful if you learn how to strike a balance. You need to find meaning in your work, nurture your personal relationships, keep healthy and keep curious. For me a successful person is someone who can achieve in all of these areas. The urgency of my work at SOS Children’s Villages is all-encompassing. During the week day my mind is completely focused on events, and outside of work hours I expect to be on call too. But in order for me to be productive, to keep creative, I need to have my own family and my own life. My wife and my child are the most important people to me. And I enjoy running marathons too.

I Am Driven by | My work in the Non-Profit sector is about providing opportunities and standing up for the rights of the most vulnerable. At SOS Children’s Villages we care for children who have been neglected, abandoned or abused, and we try to give these children a fair chance in life. It is such a daunting task but it keeps me focused, motivated and mindful.

Dealing With Doubt | I would actually encourage people to explore their doubts from time-to-time. When you’re in doubt you worry and you examine issues from many different angles, which you might not otherwise do in the daily rush. The trick is in being able to control your doubts. I spend time each week dipping into my doubts, allowing myself to fret a bit, and then coming out of it with a holistic view of the issue at hand.

A Key Talent | Communication. In my job I need to communicate effectively with children, youth and adults from all walks of life. We have programs in rural areas as well as in urban townships. I speak to international colleagues, corporate donors, tribal authorities, the powerful and the poor. I am normally able to get a sense of the people in front of me and to direct my language and approach accordingly. There’s no trick to this really, you just have to respect people and genuinely listen to what they have to say. Then I use my passion for child care and child rights to drive a clear and authentic message.

Principles, Values and Ideologies I Live by | Integrity is definitely central to everything. My father was a judge who also served on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He was greatly respected in our town, and rightly so because he is an honest and capable man. He wouldn’t think to go back on his word. As a leader in the Non-Profit sector I try to live by his example by creating a space of mutual trust and respect for our employees. I believe that if given the chance people will show their better selves. And this can only result in improved support to the children in our care.

Lessons I Have Learnt | You need to treat everyone with respect. It goes a long way to making you a well-rounded and authentic person, which is probably what you set out to be. And who knows, sometimes it might actually have a direct effect on your career. I remember arriving in a village in northern Namibia where I was to spend the next three years. I met a man digging a ditch on the path to my house and I stopped to talk to him for a few minutes. We then said our goodbyes, and a few weeks later I discovered that he was a local chief! He ended up being a very good friend of mine, and a great ally in my development work.

The Best Advice I’ve Received | “It does not suffice to do good, it must be done well”. This was from my uncle right at the beginning of my career in Development. He was making the point that good intentions are not enough, that you need to learn and develop appropriate skills in order to be truly useful to other people.

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