Lessons learnt from the corporate world was the hot topic of discussion at Rare Birds’ University of Sydney Ambassador launch this week.
A panel of entrepreneurs and senior executives took part in the event, which included Rare Birds’ newly appoint University of Sydney Ambassador Anmol Saini (far left), who is senior manager at Ferrier Hodgson.
She was joined on the panel by Narelle Hooper (second from right), the acting executive director of Springboard Enterprises Australia; Nathan Ide, managing director of Private Capital Management and Jo Burston (far right), the CEO and founder of Rare Birds.
These were the five main points of discussion:
1. What were you hoping to achieve by going to university?
Anmol said she started working life as a cadet when she was in Year 12 and then studied at university part-time. “I just wanted to get out in the real world” she said.
For Nathan it was to, “get a corporate job, climb the career ladder and become a successful professional”. “We’re all bought up to be corporate employees,” he said. “Being successful in a corporate is great, but entrepreneurism isn’t taught when you’re younger and I think it would be very beneficial if it was.”
“I didn’t have any idea about university,” said Narelle. “I was the first one in my family to go.” “The only advice we got at school was very gendered so, ‘oh, you’d be good for teaching or nursing’ and I had a family of nurses – I didn’t want to be a nurse,” she said.
Narelle studied journalism at University of Canberra. “I managed to get myself into the journalism class and then I kind of found my calling. My only aspiration was to get a job because there weren’t many jobs at the time and I didn’t have any idea what that would look like,” she said.
2. When you went into the corporate world from university, what was it like?
“It very challenging because… no one teaches you about the politics, the game-playing and navigating the challenges of the corporate firm,” said Nathan.
Anmol said her parents had always run businesses and hadn’t worked in corporate jobs, “so I just took a step back to observe how people operated,” she said.
3. What are the key things you’ve taken away with you from the corporate world?
“We should have a course about what corporate life is really about – the skills that you really need,” said Narelle. “There are all the formal proceedings, but it’s the politics you’ve really got to navigate.”
She said it helps to have “your radar up” and a network of people around you who can provide that information. She also recommends finding out, “the real needs of the people you’re dealing with”.
“Relationship building is a key skill that you should take all throughout your life.” – Jo Burston
5. What was the genesis for you to move away from corporate life?
“I’ve always had a burning desire to be a business owner,” said Nathan. “I think a corporate career is great, before you go and start your own business – you build up that network and those professional skills.
“When you work in an organisation you get a small fraction of the value you create. But when it’s your company you get the full amount,” he said. “If there’s one takeaway I’d like to share today, it’s just take that first step to set up a company. Then you’re committed and you’ll start working on it day by day,” he said.
Narelle suggested that if you’re in a corporate environment, “think like a founder, like it’s your business and your money.”
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