Peter Willis midUniversity degree(s)/Institution:
Bachelor of Arts (Hons), University of Melbourne.

Career (Last few roles/organisations, or your main or favourite):
Associate, The Boston Consulting Group.

Career Highlight:
Being exposed to a wide variety of problems in different contexts. As a consultant, I’ve worked in teams in half a dozen different industries, as well as the public service. I’ve worked with senior managers on defining the high-level strategies of their organisations, as well as with client peers, helping them implement specific initiatives to improve their businesses or Government departments. Each new experience is fascinating and somehow, despite the differences between them, they seem to link together so that there’s something I can bring to the next client that I learned while working for the last one.

What was your first job?
While I studied I worked at a local Greek restaurant. I loved the job – it was high-pace, challenging and fun. The people I worked with are still friends and they gave me a lot of responsibility. The experiences I had there and the things I learned were certainly very different to what I experienced at university in my Arts degree!

How have the humanities helped you in your career?
Although there is more maths in my job than there was in my Arts degree, the core humanities skills – research and writing – are absolutely crucial to success. As a consultant I’m often presented with huge amounts of information about a new client and required to digest and understand that information quickly. This becomes even more crucial when I’m asked to say something intelligible about the client’s operations. Understanding what’s truly important – a skill honed by humanities undergraduates while poring over dozens of books and journal articles that could be potentially relevant to their essay or thesis – is absolutely vital.

Similarly, the ability to communicate a message succinctly to clients is often the difference between success and failure. It’s a cliché but it’s true – the corporate world is awash with jargon. Studying the humanities has equipped me to navigate the jargon and to write, in contrast, clearly and economically.

Why do you think the humanities matter today?
Studying the humanities raises your eyes, encouraging you to look beyond your own day-to-day experience and helping you interpret the forces that are shaping your world. Humanities students are pushed to think deeply and whatever specific field they’re in – literature, philosophy, history or another – that type of thinking is intrinsically valuable. It builds character.

What are you reading?
The Path to Power (The Years of Lyndon Johnson) by Robert A. Caro.

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