From humble beginnings

Thursday 1st February 2018

Humble Beginnings

Our very first jobs can teach us lifelong lessons - about our character, skills, ethics, and sometimes, that we’d rather be doing anything but this! Industry Moves asked a selection of our featured movers to reveal their introduction into the workforce and discovered that their first jobs were as varied, and interesting, as the professionals they became.



What was your very first job?

Wendy Tancred Wendy Tancred, CEO at Mercy Super

I bet you haven’t had this one before. The first job that I was paid for, when I was around 15-16 years old, was a cattle station cook during my boarding school holidays. I had to cook for about 20-30 stockmen.

Read Wendy's Q&A here.


James Cook James Cook, Director of Investments at UCA Funds Management

Outside the industry, probably peeling potatoes out the back of the local fish 'n' chip shop which proved a front for the local SP Bookie – sure learnt some lessons there! Professionally, I started my career as a trainee graduate with an old school Stockbroking firm that was a partnership in the latter half of the 1980s. Again, a great space for learning a lot about the industry and more importantly, learning a lot about people and human behaviour. Invaluable experience.
Read James' full Q&A here.

Joanne Warner

Joanne Warner, former Head of Global Resources at CFSGAM

I worked as a laboratory technician in the Physics department at UTS for 6 years whilst I undertook a part time undergraduate degree in Applied Chemistry. I loved learning to operate the electron microscopes and X-ray equipment. It came in very handy when I became a graduate student.

Read Joanne's full Q&A here.


Oliver Berry

Oliver Berry, Senior Portfolio Specialist at Willis Towers Watson

I was an apprentice carpenter. My mentor has several fingers missing which made me really concentrate.

Read Oliver's full Q&A here.



Robert Brown

Robert Brown, CEO at ACSA

Working in a local garage after school and during the holidays – pumping petrol, learning how to check oil, water and tyre pressure. Hard to imagine I know, but there was a time when a service station was just that – well before the days of self-service pumps and cars that don’t break down.

Read Robert's full Q&A here.


Kylie Willment

Kylie Willment, CIO at Mercer

I was a Woolies deli chick! Thursday nights and Saturday mornings when retail trading hours still worked that way!

Read Kylie's full Q&A here.



Tim Chatfield

Tim Chatfield, Board Member at First Super

My first job was as a wood cutter and splitter making fencing posts for land owned by the Framlingham Community at Warrnambool.

Read Tim's full Q&A here.



Lola Oyetunji Lola Oyetunji, Manager, Superannuation Advisory at KPMG

My first job was at Gloria Jeans in the Qantas domestic terminal. I worked there for about 2 months and realised that hospitality was not one of my strengths! I did very much enjoy meeting minor celebrities and the banter with the engineers during their breaks. However, it was often at the cost of burning a customer’s ham & cheese croissant!

Read Lola's full Q&A here.

Glenn Baird Glenn Baird, Head of Mental Health at TAL

My first full time job was playing basketball for the Canberra Cannons…does that count? While studying in the U.S. I worked for Nike in a program aimed at engaging disadvantaged youths into a variety of sports.

Read Glenn's full Q&A here.


Kate Hill

Kate Hill, Board Member at Countplus

I worked in a laundry for a mental health hospital in my university holidays, initially folding (all day, every day!) and then I graduated to the sewing room where I mended clothes, sheets and hospital gowns. I can still replace a zip in a pair of jeans in a very speedy manner.

Read Kate's full Q&A here.


Geoff Rimmer

Geoff Rimmer, Co-Founder of GreenZone Australia

My first job was as wheat sampler on a wheat bin at a place called Wellbungin, not even a town but a railway siding 350km east of Perth. We worked from 7 to 6 over 6 days a week over the harvest season. My job was to grade the wheat that farmers delivered over the season. It was hot work but the pay was fantastic and country people have an honesty about them that is disarming.
Read Geoff's full Q&A here.

Kirsten Mander

Kirsten Mander, Chair at legalsuper

As an articled clerk in a small one-practitioner law firm in St Albans, doing conveyancing, small business, and family disputes. It's a world away from what I do now, but it taught me important lessons about customer focus, what you can achieve if you set your mind to it, and how to manage angry women mud wrestlers.

Read Kirsten's full Q&A here.

Kris White

Kris White, Chief Behavioural Officer at Zuper

After my job as a paper delivery boy in my neighbourhood (great job by the way), I started in social research at a company in Perth conducting qualitative research with the general public about issues like tax, health, driving, drugs and drinking, mental health. Brilliant job.

Read Chris' full Q&A here.


Emily Gordon

Emily Gordon, Head of Bloomberg Australia

At age 15, I became a lifeguard for the local swim club in California where I grew up. Luckily I never had to do any rescues. Being a lifeguard comes with an immense amount of responsibility; so the job taught me how to be attentive and react calmly in stressful situations which are important tenants of customer service and something that remains important in my current role.
Read Emily's full Q&A here.

Nina James

Nina James, General Manager of Sustainability at Investa

Officially it was working as a student in the Sydney Olympic Games Homebush Site Management Team. We had the best time! I got to work with some of Australia’s best people on a project which was pushing all the boundaries on sustainable design and construction. The energy on site was amazing and set the bar pretty high for future workplace expectations.

Read Nina's full Q&A here.

Samuel Mann

Samuel Mann, CEO at Longreach Alternatives

I used to unload by hand 40 foot containers of garden pots and furniture through school and university. Horrid work but I could lift 200kgs over my head. I could do about a tenth of that now.

Read Samuel's full Q&A here.


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