Daniel Eastwood-Whitaker's journey to an international career
At 22, Daniel Eastwood-Whitaker’s career and study path has been a journey across different courses, industry sectors and countries. Each step has given him the keys to be successful in the next.
"Like many new high school graduates, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study at university, or what I wanted to do in the future. I started an engineering degree (inspired by the likes of Ironman’s Tony Stark) but my passion was always flying aeroplanes. My great grandfather, who recently turned 96, was an RAF flight engineer in England and flew during World War II. My brother and father were always interested in aircraft too. So, in second semester I started aviation management.
Aviation is a very specific industry and I felt for me at such an early stage in my career it was too soon to start specialising. I saw the offer of a dual-degree in commerce and chose to major in finance alongside aviation.
Swinburne gave me a lot of opportunities to excel and learn new skills, not just in lectures, but also through the Swinburne Student Amenities Association, Golden Key International Honour Society and volunteer work with PAVE (formerly TAFE).
I had a lot of help and direction from my lecturers and Swinburne support staff, all the way up through senior management. I received some fantastic advice from Graham Goldsmith, currently Chancellor, during my time as Golden Key President over coffee. The help and advice is there, you’ve just got to be willing to ask and that’s what Swinburne students can really take advantage of. Staff are very supportive and welcoming. I'm grateful for the help that I've received, I wouldn’t hesitate in passing that back to Swinburne and its students.
In 2013 I joined the Golden Key International Honours Society, a society for the top 15 per cent of students ranked on their class study score. I was elected social officer and the following year president. The society is all about leadership, academics and community service and is a big part of the reason why I was awarded a New Colombo Plan Scholarship in 2014. Set up by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the scholarship aims to increase awareness of the Indo-Pacific region among Australian youth.
"I'm so grateful for the help that I've had, I wouldn’t hesitate in passing that back to Swinburne and its students."
I chose to go to China, where I studied at the Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) for six months. I finished my finance degree and took extra courses in Chinese language, culture and business skills. Through contacts at Swinburne I started talking to people at several employers and ended up choosing to do my internship with QBE in Hong Kong.
My career progression took me from engineering, to aviation, moving into finance, and then accepting a job as a business analyst with the IT Team at QBE.
My engineering semester wasn't a waste of time. It taught me how to think in a very structured and logical way. Aviation taught me about the industry and the importance of communication and prioritisation. Commerce taught me how to make informed business decisions. It was all part of my journey of figuring out what I wanted to do.
I still see a lot of value in having aviation industry knowledge, whether or not I work in that industry. For example, QBE has an insurance arm in aviation. If you have industry knowledge, it certainly helps when you are working with or dealing with that industry.
By exploring my options I discovered I really like project work and opportunities that allow me to think outside the box.”