Rod Macneil holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and a PhD in Fine Arts from the University of Melbourne. The Chief of Staff at Museums Victoria, he has more than 20 years’ experience leading external relations, communications and marketing for major cultural organisations in both Australia and the United States. 


What did you study and what inspired you to pursue this path?

I did a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) followed by a PhD at Melbourne University. My subjects were fairly eclectic at first – everything from Film Studies to An Introduction to Archaeology – but by the time I started my Honours I was doing mostly Art History subjects, focusing in particular on Australian art history and post-colonialism.


What is your current occupation?

I’m Chief of Staff at Museums Victoria.


What aspects of your role do you enjoy the most?

I am lucky to have great role working in a wonderful organisation. My core responsibility is delivery of our strategy, our corporate communications and corporate relations. I work at a strategic level across the museums and with our key stakeholders and partners building relationships, identifying opportunities and managing issues (ideally before they emerge).


Thinking back, what was a highlight of your time at university?

Studying for a PhD was hard work, but the opportunity to pursue ideas through research always felt like an incredible privilege.


Were there any co-curricular activities you found particularly valuable while at university?

I did a fair amount of volunteer work while I was at university, with community organisations and art galleries, which was important to get me off campus and out of the academic bubble.


How do you think your humanities education has shaped you personally and professionally?

It trained me to think, analyse, and to write and communicate. That’s the core of what I do in my job.


What career advice would you give to current students or recent graduates?

Don’t assume that your career will take you where you expect it will. Do your best to get real-world experience while you are studying; it adds perspective and always looks good on a resume.


Tell us about a book you read recently that truly captured your attention?

Richard Flannigan’s ‘Wanting’. Brilliant.