Melany's journey from Swinburne to an award winning CEO of a multi-million dollar company

Melany Blackwell standing in a red dress holding her business award.

Melany Blackwell graduated from Swinburne in 2003 with a Masters of Business Administration. Since then, Melany has achieved remarkable success, been recognised with several highly distinguished awards and is now CEO of a multi-million dollar company, Liberate Learning.

We wanted to know how Melany’s MBA from Swinburne helped her on her journey to creating an impact right around the world.

Can you tell us about Liberate Learning and your role there?

Liberate specializes in the development of interactive, engaging and memorable digital learning innovations that enhance the learning opportunities for millions of Australians and people from around the globe. I joined Liberate in late 2016 and have been in the role of CEO since late July 2018.

I’m currently leading a team of almost 50 of Australia’s best and brightest minds and we are leading the disruption in the education and training space, guiding some of the largest companies in Australia and around the globe through this time of digital transformation.

How are you creating social or economic impact in the world?

One thing I find particularly satisfying about my role with Liberate is the opportunity to make a considerable social and economic contribution to Australia and the world.

We are all very aware of the direct benefit that education and training makes to our futures – at an individual, community and national level. Liberate gets to enjoy being part of this, as well as making a number of other impacts.

Last year Liberate was formally recognised as an Australian “Business of Tomorrow”, in recognition of our contribution to shaping the nation’s economic future. The digital economy is predicted to be worth $139 billion by 2020 to the Australian economy. The health of the digital economy will pay a considerable role in the health of the Australian economy. Through our work in the digital learning and development sector, Liberate has been recognised as playing an important role in the shaping Australia’s economic future.

In addition to this, Liberate employs approximately 50 team members, and as we are growing at 30% per annum, the team is also growing. Earlier this year, we were awarded Australia’s Small Business Champion - Growth Award, which recognised our growth and the contribution we make to the economy.

Finally, and one of my greatest passions, is to ensure we’re giving back to the wider Australian community. One way we do this is by providing not-for-profit organisations with a digital learning capability, and enable them with a far greater reach and scalable support far beyond what could have been otherwise possible. Some of the pro-bono services we offer relates to the creation and hosting of digital learning portals, eLearning resources and learning management systems to transform education and awareness programs around gender equality, family violence, problem addictions, diversity and community inclusiveness to name a few.

"I’m grateful for the opportunities that have been open to me as a result of completing my MBA through Swinburne, and I feel Swinburne played a major role in my business success.."

How central is innovation to your work?

Digital innovation is critical to the success of my company and the team I lead.

Technology is evolving faster than most businesses can adapt, and this has deep implications for all aspects of business, including learning solutions.

The age of digital disruption means that learners can now engage through a range of resources including rich media, gamification, micro-learning, apps, social learning, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, social media, and more. The changes in how people communicate, connect, and learn are occurring at a phenomenal rate.

Liberate’s challenge is to constantly rethink how people learn, how organisations deliver learning and how our digital solutions enable organisations and individuals to work smarter, more flexibly and streamline operational efficiencies. Emerging technologies continually inspire the solutions we invent for our clients.

In collaboration with our client partners, we are reshaping the face of learning and education, leveraging the benefits of the digital age, and leading the positive disruption in the learning technology space.

In what way did Swinburne prepare you for the challenges you face in your work?

I’m grateful for the opportunities that have been open to me as a result of completing my MBA through Swinburne, and I feel Swinburne played a major role in my business success. My personal desire to help others learn and become better leaders and reinvent the way learning and teaching is designed and deployed through technology, all started with the spark that was ignited during my MBA.

Swinburne was instrumental in helping me challenge the status quo and to develop the confidence to lead, and that has allowed me to think innovatively and now inspire others to innovate digitally in order to stay relevant and competitive in a market that is constantly changing.

What advice would you give to current Swinburne students?

I’d encourage students to really immerse and invest themselves in the Swinburne experience. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn from and engage with some incredible academics and professionals, as well as to develop lifelong personal and professional networks.

I’d also encourage prospective and existing students to embrace change, to develop the appreciation and a love of lifelong learning, as well as a thirst to innovate within your field. Learning a skill or acquiring new knowledge is important – but it’s just the starting point. You also need to maintain a state of mind that seeks out new initiatives and opportunities. Don’t be frightened of change or disruption – we’re in an era where change is the norm.