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From Geelong to Silicon Valley is not so far

When Josh McNamara embarked on a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting and Finance) at Deakin University’s Waurn Ponds campus almost 15 years ago, he had no idea it would lead to career that has taken him around the world.

“I grew up in Frankston, so I was excited at the prospect of living away for university – studying commerce at Deakin was a great fit,” Josh says.

“I didn’t really have any idea what I wanted to do so a broad degree, learning a range of business skills, was important to me at that time.”

Josh found campus life stimulating and rewarding, and particularly enjoyed meeting a wide range of students from all corners of world.

““I think I’ve always had an explorer-type nature: things have never been as important to me as experiences. So, heading to Deakin Geelong for university at 18 and becoming friends with people from all over the world (Zimbabwe, Italy, United States) was the starting point. But I don’t think I realised that an international career was something I could make happen.

“If you’d asked me back then if my path would have led me to London, to Vancouver, to Karratha in the North West Australia, to Denver and San Francisco, I would have laughed. But that’s where life took me, and it’s been an unbelievable ride.”

Josh’s first role after graduating was with National Australia Bank, then the Bank of Scotland in London. By then the travel bug had got its teeth in.

“The opportunity to move to the other side of the world with some great friends which really catapulted me into experiencing what the world had to offer.”

Josh spent much of his 20s travelling and gaining a wide range of skills and experiences in a host of different jobs. He lived in Canada, working on the Olympic Games in Vancouver, and spent time in the mines in Western Australia.

In 2012 Josh’s experiences and openness to learning led to a turning-point opportunity. He was approached by a small technology start-up called Xero (and yes, it’s not so small anymore).

“Over the course of the next six or seven years I went from an entry-level sales role to leading a sales team across North America. I spent time in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, and I saw the company grow exponentially into a global software company.”

Now back in Melbourne, close to family and friends Josh is looking for a new challenge to take on.

Josh says he can trace a clear line from his Deakin degree to his globe-trotting career.

“The broad range of business skills and knowledge I acquired over those three years at Deakin I think also really set me up for a successful career in business.”

An economics lecturer had a big impact on Josh. “He taught in a way that was engaging and invited us to learn. You were somewhat excited to go to that class and I took so much more in and did well. I think that really inspired me to think outside the box when it comes to engaging with people. He also made me realise how important it was to break down complex topics into bite sized pieces, communicating in a human and engaging way. And being a likeable person feels like a successful remedy in many areas of life and business.”

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