Alum Of The Month
Intake: March 2008
Current Role: Chief of Staff to the President and CEO, Strategic Education Australia and New Zealand
What and where did you study before your Mountbatten internship?
Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering, Missouri University of Science and Technology
What made you apply for the Mountbatten program?
The summer before my senior year of college, a friend and I spent 6 weeks backpacking through Europe. Our first stop was London and we stayed with the cousin of a friend who was doing the Mountbatten program. That’s when I first heard of the program, and after several days there I knew I wanted to do it. The internship itself was a valuable experience, but the overall experience of living in a major (and very diverse) city in a foreign country was what drove me to apply. I also really loved the idea of being able to travel around Europe and join a soccer team in London.
Describe your sponsor company and your role within it.
I worked for BlackRock as an analyst on the EMEA Finance team.
What was the highlight/most memorable moment of your working experience during this year?
It’s tough to pick one example! I think the main highlight, while not a specific event, was getting to work for a large bank on a very culturally diverse team. I learned so much from my colleagues and built relationships that spanned well beyond the workplace and continue to this day. One more specific moment that I will always remember was when I sent a long email about weekend plans to a friend who didn’t work at BlackRock. Only instead of sending it to said friend I accidentally sent it to one of the senior leaders at BlackRock! Luckily it was nothing too incriminating, and she was kind in her response, but it was incredibly embarrassing and it taught me a valuable lesson of what not to do at work.
What was the social highlight/most memorable moment during this year?
If I have to choose one thing, I would say travelling is my best memory. Being so close to so many amazing places in Europe was absolutely incredible. I think my two favourite trips were: road trip with a few other Mountbattens around the Scottish highlands, and a bike trip around the Ring of Kerry in Ireland. Another highlight was joining a soccer club in London and the experiences and friends that came from that.
Please share a little wisdom/philosophy that you acquired during your internship
The internship was such a good opportunity to try new things and to learn. It taught me to open up and to not let the fear of failure stop me from trying something new. It taught me the value of having a growth mindset.
Would you have done anything differently, if you had your time over again?
I would spend more time travelling around England. We were so caught up in travelling to other parts of Europe, that I didn’t take the opportunity to travel around and experience all of the beautiful things England has to offer.
What happened after completing the year – what did you do next?
I went back to stay with my family in Colorado and worked in construction for a year trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. Leaving London was incredibly hard for me, I went through a challenging time mentally and felt a bit lost because I had wanted to stay in London so badly but couldn’t make it happen. So I took some time to reflect and figure out what I wanted to do next. That eventually led me to Washington, D.C. where I quickly found a job back in engineering for a few years before I decided to go back and do an MBA at George Washington University.
Where are you now in your working life and what do you do?
I’m currently the Chief of Staff to the President and CEO of Strategic Education Australia and New Zealand, which owns Torrens University, Think Education and Media Design School. As chief of staff I essentially act as a strategic advisor to the CEO and Executive team. We have over 20k students on 12 campuses across Australia, New Zealand, and online.
Do you have any future plans that you would like to realise & what are they (career & social)?
That’s the million dollar question! I have a diverse professional background spanning multiple sectors with experience working on projects in over 30 countries, and I have always tried to take on opportunities that allow me to keep learning. On a personal level, I’m very enthusiastic about two things: sport for development (i.e., using sport as a platform for positive change) and sustainability. Where this will take me, I’m not sure. For now I just want to keep learning and doing my best to have a positive impact in both my personal and professional life.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
My wife and I just had our first baby, a little girl, in August. I absolutely love being a dad!
Is there any other information that you would like to be included?
I really enjoy meeting other Mountbattens. Look me up on LinkedIn and let’s connect!