5 Minutes with Ian McKay

This month our member in focus is the wonderful Ian McKay from UniSA.
The University of South Australia is Australia’s University of Enterprise on the global stage, agile and astute, known for relevance, equity and excellence. Established in 2005, University of South Australia’s Mount Gambier campus is a reflection of an ongoing commitment to the region and the community.

1/ Who is Ian?

I grew up in Townsville in North Queensland completing my education at Pimlico State High School then a Diploma of Teaching at the then Townsville College of Advanced Education.  I subsequently completed a Bachelor of Education (James Cook University), Master of Education (Deakin University) and Master of Public Administration (University of Tasmania).

I have lived in Mount Gambier since the beginning of 2017, when I commenced my current role with the University of South Australia.

I married my wife, Sherril, when living in Cairns in the 1990s and our son David was also born in Cairns.  David’s experience of living in three states must have prepared him for a flexible lifestyle as he is currently serving in the RAAF based at Amberley in Queensland.

I have been very involved in sport over the years playing cricket, tennis, baseball, squash and golf at varying levels and was very involved in cricket coaching when in Queensland.

2/ What are the main professional areas you have worked in over the years?

I started my career as a primary school teacher and subsequently was a school principal for 30 years at government and non-government schools in Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria.  I have spent my life in regional areas, and I have loved getting involved in the communities that I have lived.

My leadership and management experience has been acknowledged with Fellowships from the Australian College of Educators, Australian Council of Educational Leaders and the Institute of Management and Leaders where I am a Chartered Fellow.

I have been fortunate to have been awarded a Churchill Fellowship and be named an Apple Distinguished Educator both allowing the opportunity to travel and learn internationally.

I have also held Board positions in a number of profit and not for profit companies and am a past Australasian President of the Australasian Association of Distance Education Schools and a Past President of the Society for the Provision of Education in Rural Australia.

3/ What is the biggest challenge you have faced professionally or personally?

My biggest challenge has also been my greatest opportunity.

During my professional career, I have moved to eleven different towns across four states working in both government schools and independent schools and now for the University of South Australia.  Each change has brought new challenges but given me wonderful opportunities to see so much of our amazing country and meet new people and allowed me to keep learning in different contexts.

I’ve even learnt new vocabulary.  I had no idea that a “cool drink” meant a soft drink in Western Australia whether or not it had been refrigerated and I didn’t know what a Stobey pole was when I moved to Mount Gambier!

4/ What is your favourite place to visit in the Limestone Coast & Western Victoria area?

I really need more than five minutes to talk about all of the great places across our region!  I am fortunate that my role allows me to travel throughout both the Limestone Coast and SW Victoria.

As I enjoy excellent wines, it’s hard to go past the many wonderful wineries scattered from Robe to Pathaway though the natural beauty of so much of our region from Kingston to Warrnambool is also magnificent.  A few years ago the diversity of our region was on display when I worked the Great South West Walk, a 250km loop from Portland.  Then, of course, there are the many fine restaurants and cafes …..

5/ Do you have any recommendations for our members to  take away?

I always find it a little presumptuous to make recommendations without knowing someone’s circumstances.  I do however encourage everyone to continue to develop their own knowledge and skills through lifelong learning whether that be through formal study such as a business degree with UniSA, short courses in areas of specific interest or attending a wide range of development opportunities including those offered through WiBRD and reading success/development oriented books.

I am a long time fan of Stephen Covey’s, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  If you haven’t read it put it on your reading or audio book list!

One of the best pieces of direct advice I have received is an “oldie but a goodie”, Always aim to exceed the expectations of your employer and your clients/customers.

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