Business As Unusual

Surreal is the word I would use for this week. It’s been hard watching the dominoes fall as businesses continue to close and the subsequent loss of customers and jobs across the board. It’s been heartening to see essential industries in the opposite position putting on people who’ve been stood down or lost their jobs. While I feel extremely grateful to still have a job – it’s been completely overwhelming to see the human cost and economic impact in our community. I spent most of this week ensuring La Trobe alumni could access LinkedIn Learning (one of our alumni benefits) and liaising with the team at LinkedIn regarding contractual issues, which has not been great timing given the demand for all things online by alumni and in general.

#ActivationInIsolation Website

Within the La Trobe community, my colleagues have pivoted and launched the Student Crisis Appeal which went live yesterday. Like many people, our students rely on casual jobs in retail and hospitality to pay their rent and buy food as well as study. La Trobe University will match every dollar raised from alumni and private donors and our Senior Executive Group have already donated to the cause with 100% of funds going directly to students – many of who wouldn’t be able to continue to study without financial assistance.

#ActivationInIsolation Website v2

Locally, if you can support Banyule businesses that are still operating, please do. While my friend Jonno from Valiant Barbers has temporarily closed up shop, Nikki Ellis from Cinch Training has moved to Zoom sessions online and limited outdoors sessions and I picked up four super delicious takeaway burrito bowls from Luis at The Pioneer Cafe yesterday in Rosanna.

If you can’t afford to pay for Zoom sessions, Yoga with Adriene is free on YouTube as well as La Trobe Sport’s #ActivationInIsolation series which will hold #MobilityMondays, #WorkoutWednesdays and #FlexibilityFridays. I’ve seen P.E. with Joe for children being promoted online and I know it’s really hard at the moment for working parents at home who have young children.

One of the reasons we moved to the suburbs was to give our children a backyard. As much as they’ve outgrown the cubby and sandpit, we have a basketball ring which may be our saving grace and I bought a badminton set online the other day which has brought out our competitive side as a family. If I had a garage, I’d definitely get my Miao Miao on and go full Asian buying a table tennis set – nothing like a bit of ping pong over winter!

Establishing a new routine will become really important in the coming days and weeks. I’ve already started walking to ‘work’ in what would ordinarily have been my morning car commute, setting up my home office (with a better outlook and a mostly well-behaved office dog who is loving the 24/7 company) and will be setting up similar spaces and routines for my kids as they move to online learning, which will definitely happen. I’ve already moved the social events I had on with friends to Zoom so we will still catch up online instead of in real life and I know younger friends are using Houseparty for group video chat or Netflix Party to watch movies with mates.

Hang in there – if you are one of the unlucky people who lost their job this week, then I am thinking of you. Please take care of your mental health, as much as your physical health. The coming months will be a test of our true character, courage and resilience dealing with the unknown and unknowable.

The A Team

If you’re returning to school or work this week, then good luck! If it’s a week of firsts for you like it is in my family, then I will be thinking of you.

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Lunching at Hunter Lane Cafe last week

I started my new job in the La Trobe Alumni and Advancement Office last week and my head is still spinning. It will take me some time to get myself up to speed but already my remit is fairly clear – increasing engagement with Young Alumni (FYI graduate = alumni) as they transition from first, second and third year University students to their first 3 – 5 years post-graduation and helping them on their employment journey in particular – a big focus for me will be work integrated learning (internships and other work experience) and mentoring as well as promoting the Alumni Benefits program which includes exclusive access to LinkedIn Learning for La Trobe Alumni – short online courses to help you skill up quickly and in your own time.

It’s a new portfolio but one that makes a lot of sense and I’m hoping to hit the ground running given I’m already internal – it’s made things a lot easier being familiar with systems and processes as well as people and if you are starting out, mid-career or well entrenched in your chosen career – the power of the network is something that will stand you in good stead. Don’t be afraid to reach out for a coffee and chat with someone new – most people are happy to give you 30-60 minutes of their time.

I work in a fantastic Alumni Relations team who look after alumni in Australia and internationally from Young Alumni (generally graduates Under 35 years) to those with the honour of being awarded Distinguished Alumni. I also work with colleagues in the fundraising (or development) area who work with donors (who may or may not be alumni) looking at philanthropy, grants, bequests and other donations to the University and stewardship of those who have donated their time or money to worthy causes such as scholarships and life-saving or life changing research. It’s a fascinating area if you’re interested in the giving space and collectively Alumni and Fundraising (Development) is known as Advancement. A specialist data services team also supports both areas in my office so it will take me a little while to meet everyone and deepen my understanding of what they do and how all the pieces fit together.

I knew most of the people in my current area before applying for my role and that was part of the allure for me – known quantities whose good reputations preceded them and that’s been reinforced for me now working in that team. Natural affinity isn’t something that can be manufactured but is so important in the work force and in life in terms of ongoing relationships.

In my first week on the job I also managed to have three work lunches locally with my first ever team lunch being held at the aptly named The A Team Kitchen in Watsonia (run by the former owners of Miss Marie Cafe in Rosanna), Hunter Lane Cafe (now with new owners but staff have remained) as well as The Pioneer Cafe in Rosanna – none of which were here when I moved into the area just over 10 years ago. It’s been a welcome change and a sign of the times. I’m very glad to have joined the A team! Have a great week.