OUAers share their unique study paths. Their current job titles may surprise you.

Choosing what to study can feel overwhelming. After all, you’re making a call on what you’d like to spend your life doing. Or are you?

OUAers share their unique study paths_Image

If you’re finishing school or starting university, making the “right choice” when it comes to study is one of the biggest hurdles. After all, how do you know what occupation you’ll be best suited to, when you’ve spent over a decade at school?

While making a considered choice that suits your study goals and personality is important, we’re here to let you in on a little secret: It’s not the be all and end all. In fact, many people end up in fields that are vastly different to what they set out to study. 

Just ask our OUA employees, affectionately known as OUAers. Many started out with a specific plan for where their life would take them – choosing a course based on this—only to end up broadening their horizons and taking turns into career paths they could have never imagined. Let’s hear from them.

Anthony Elliott, Chief Operating Officer, originally studied chemical engineering

“I enjoyed science, maths and history at school and the practical, problem solving, improving side of things from engineering appealed to me. I had no idea of what I was going to do with it.”

“I think my friends might have expected me to end up in Higher Education, but perhaps more in a university than a commercial, purpose driven organisation. I feel very blessed for the opportunities and career steps I have had so far and am fortunate to now be in a position where I can focus on helping create similar for others.”

“Chemical engineering is actually process engineering where the aim is to study, understand and optimise a whole system to achieve a desired outcome. In a way I like to think that my role today is still engineering, it’s just that the system is a whole company filled with people, culture, processes and systems instead of pipes, chemicals and reactions.”

When it comes to choosing your studies, Anthony says:

“Focus learning and experience on capabilities you enjoy and have an aptitude for and worry a bit less on what you will do with it. As you hone that knowledge and skills, look for opportunities in lots of different areas and broaden your exposure to a range of sectors, markets and organisations.”

"Gary Klein, in a book called Seeing What Other Don’t, speaks to taking an active stance in increasing the density of ideas, [the] experiences you are exposed to… and being interested and active in lots of different arenas. I love these ideas which combine a lifelong learning mindset and a curious outlook. Most importantly, start and then keep going.”

Maria Lucca, Student Advisor, originally studied (and is continuing studies in) fashion and branded design

“I was always drawing and started from an early age understanding how to hold a needle and thread. The only path my vision was set on was to have my own [fashion] brand, my own label.”

“This lasted for 20 years—having my own clients and working as a design assistant for a major fashion house. Then [I] started a family which was given priority over a career. In doing so, you lose the connections and place within the industry and so you have to re-invent yourself. I was given an opportunity to work with OUA as a student advisor.”

When it comes to choosing your studies, Maria says:

“Start off with something you enjoy. It may be seen as reverse psychology, but it works. The whole battle is engagement, perseverance [and] commitment. How you get there is inconsequential. Trust the process! You may encounter some twists and turns, some road blocks but it’s about picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and moving on.”

Adrian Hill, General Counsel and Company Secretary, originally studied a combined bachelor of science and bachelor of laws 

“By the end of Year 12 I’d settled on psychology as my field. But I didn’t have the score to get in.  I got into arts instead and had to work hard to get the first-year results necessary to transfer to science.”  

“My favourite psychology lecturer was doing research into the psychology of eyewitness testimony for the Law Reform Commission. He said if I wanted to work in his field, I would need a law degree as well. I got good marks at the end of first year [of uni] and transferred to a combined [degree].  But life got in the way, and I wasn’t invited to do an Honours year in psychology… so I focused on my law degree and became a solicitor instead.”

“I started working in a law firm with dozens of graduates who had always dreamed of being a lawyer and who had gotten top marks in school and uni.  I couldn’t honestly say that I’d ever wanted to be a lawyer. I didn’t expect to be able to succeed in the competitive environment of a major international firm. But a few years later I was the only one left!”

When it comes to choosing your studies, Adrian says:

“Set yourself some goals for where you want to be and what you want to have achieved in the next 5 years and work hard to achieve them. But be flexible and open to learning new things along the way because it’s very difficult to plan for the future beyond 5 years.”


Are you feeling unsure about the right course for your future? Perhaps you just need to talk to someone, other than friends or family, about the paths available? Our student advisors are experts in helping people, just like you, take the first step. Book a consultation for a time and date that suits you today. 


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