Studying for life, not for career – A Crawford graduate’s story

13 December 2023

Simon Caldwell never thought university was going to be on the cards for him. He didn’t start his undergraduate degree in International Relations until he was in his mid-20s. Even then, studying was not about progressing his career. It was about knowledge and life experience first and then career advancement second.

Simon says, “Succeeding in life is rarely a solitary endeavour, and everyone needs support, big or small, obvious and sometimes not.” Noting that a key motivator is his wife, who helps him to make sure no opportunity is wasted and that as long as he has done his best, that is enough.

He currently works in the construction consulting industry, and he says that as the years move on, “The environment and sustainability will no doubt become an ever more pressing and divisive issue. Being able to form my own opinions and maintain a critical outlook is an important skill to hold.”

Motivated by this thirst for knowledge, Simon opted for the Master of Environmental Management and Development program. It ticked all the boxes, an area of interest, while also having the potential added benefit of increasing career opportunities. Living in Adelaide, Crawford also gave him the opportunity to study online, which was particularly helpful when he started during COVID-19. He notes that online classes were rarely boring, and he believes that the teachers strive to create inclusive, interesting and diverse online courses.

“This course and the resources at the Crawford school provide a strong platform for learning and development and a strong grounding in thinking about not only research but also applying research to public policy,” he said. Also added, “I have been lucky enough to work with global leaders in the field of environmental management and development. I honestly have never worked with a friendlier, more driven and intelligent group of peers, both students and academics in any environment in my life.”

Simon says that it is important to understand that policy is linked across all scales and levels of governance, and not only the public sector but the private sector as well. Researching local policy issues provides evidence and examples of achievements that can be used to promote effective policy in other states or countries around the world. If Australia is to achieve its goals and international duties, including the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, “is imperative that all levels of government, local, state and federal work harder to implement stronger and more effective sustainable regulation, not only in the construction industry but across society as a whole,” he says.

Understanding private certification, public regulation and its ability to impede or improve steps toward reducing the damage and waste that the construction industry creates on a daily basis is a key interest for Simon. He says, “If we as a society are to reverse, halt or even slow somewhat the impacts of climate change, more must be done from a public policy setting, social awareness setting and an educational perspective.”

To prospective Crawford students, Simon strongly suggests taking on a research project or thesis. According to him, this experience will help you refine your skills in a subject you’re enthusiastic about, allowing you to complete your degree with a profound understanding of your chosen topic. If you’re unable to attend class in person, don’t let that put you off either, he says. Online courses are run professionally and are no less engaging than in person, a credit to the tutors.

Simon looks forward to continuing his current trajectory within the field of construction consultancy, incorporating his newly completed environmental studies into the role and moving further into the sustainability consultancy field to work toward more sustainable outcomes in construction. “I am incredibly grateful that I have had the support from my work and family, allowing me the flexibility to undertake full-time work and study,” he concluded.

Simon, congratulations on graduating with your Master’s degree! We wish you all the best with your future endeavours.

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