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Pamela murray-jones: industry expert profile

By Michael Crump | 17 October 2016

In a corporate career spanning nearly 30 years, Pamela Murray-Jones has worked in marketing, business development and senior management including roles as an executive and non-executive Director. Her areas of expertise are business administration, management, strategy, governance, marketing, HR management specialising in L&D, executive and organisational coaching and mentoring.

Her qualifications include:

  • Graduate Diploma in Education
  • Graduate Certificate in Business Coaching
  • Graduate Certificate in Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Letters
  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Company Directors Course Diploma (AICD)
  • Certificate in Company Direction (IoD NZ)
  • Certificate IV in Training and Assessment
  • Certificate IV in Celebrancy

Starting out as a teacher before moving to advertising and marketing, we talk to Pamela about studying, work-life balance and the gift of education.

What was your first "career" job?

My first career job was as a secondary school teacher, teaching English, with a specialty in writing, and second language students. I became a deputy principal of a girls high school at the age of 28. I think I was one of the youngest deputies in the state and I wasn't ready, in terms of my people management skills, for managing about 20 headstrong staff. I left after a couple of years and went into advertising and marketing and had a ball! Marketing and business strategy have been my twin loves ever since.

How did you get started?

I started out as a scholarship student studying to be a teacher, working as a waitress during university holidays to pay my living costs. How I got into advertising was something else. I was apparently an experiment - someone recruited from entirely outside the square - and was voted by my team mates in my first month as the person least likely to succeed as a consultant. Luckily for me (and the HR Director) I was a successful experiment. It taught me early on that thinking outside the square is important for success.

What was your most difficult qualification to complete?

I have eight qualifications and am currently studying for a ninth. I think the first was the hardest because that is the one where I had to learn how to study. Nobody seems to teach you HOW to study - and that is one thing I try to do with my students during our mentoring sessions.

What was your way of coping with a course and other commitments?

Study has always been part of my life, even when as a senior executive I was working up to 60 hours a week and regularly travelling overseas. It is part of my daily pattern, like cleaning my teeth, so it is a habit and never becomes a hardship - except when I have an exam and then I plan for time out. This does mean having to say 'no" to some social commitments, but I always reward myself with some "me" time afterwards. My family and friends are really very supportive and are always interested in my results so it becomes part of a mutually supportive relationship.

Any tips for getting through the work?

The best tip I can provide for getting through the work is to have a timetable and commitments that you stick to through thick or thin. I see my commitment to my study as equal to work or family commitments, not secondary to them. Sometimes this means doing extraordinary things like taking my books for a weekend away with family and getting up an hour earlier than everyone else to study over breakfast, It means I enjoy my day more because I don't feel guilty. My family see this as part of my (hopefully) charming eccentricity.

Do you think your education and training helped you along that progression?

Education is an amazing gift that Australians tend to take for granted. When I first started my tertiary education, a full-time year at university cost as much as my father earned. I was a scholarship student and I have been extremely grateful for the opportunity given to me. I was part of very few Australians offered this opportunity and only one third of those were women at that time. Education is not a right, it is a privilege and we should treat it that way. Without it I would not have had the most amazing opportunities afforded me, nor would I have been able to have such a rich life with so many interests and friends all over the world.

What has been the most difficult career challenge you've faced?

My most difficult career challenge has been managing upwards. I spent most of my career as either a member of the senior executive or second in charge of various organisations, and that brought its own challenges. I was comfortable managing quite large staff numbers (up to 100+) but it takes diplomacy and a different set of skills to influence those above you to get your ideas accepted. It was great preparation for my later career as a consultant, and it is also helpful in training, which is more about influencing students than telling them what to do.

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