Challenge-seeker, teacher and consultant: Ash’s story

Ashley Duggan

Cohort 2013

Bachelor of Business (First Class Honours)(Economics) at the Queensland University of Technology

Teaching areas
Business, Humanities

Current employment
Management Consultant at Boston Consulting Group

Ash was looking for a challenge. He wanted to push his own boundaries, and develop his professional skills somewhere outside his comfort zone.

So he moved from his hometown of Brisbane south to Victoria as part of the Leadership Development Program. “The structure of the program was really appealing – it allows you to get into the classroom and put to practice what you’re learning straight away,” he says.

He hadn’t considered teaching at first, although the signs of being a leader in a classroom were there all along: “I had done economics topics on educational disadvantage at uni, and also loved teaching first year economics classes as a sessional academic. It’s almost embarrassing that I didn’t realise that I was passionate about education earlier.”

“The reality is that educational opportunities across Australia aren’t equal. Where you grow up has such a big impact on the quality of your education,” Ash explains. Knowing this, applying for the Leadership Development Program made sense to him. He could effect social change while developing competitive and transferable leadership skills.

“It’s fast-paced, intense and hugely rewarding. Schools are such complex organisations to work in. You develop strong stakeholder engagement, communication, project management, data analysis, conflict management, and of course leadership skills,” he says.

Associates complete an intensive period of initial training and development over thirteen weeks, before commencing employment as a teacher at a partner school for two years with time release to complete their Master of Teaching. The combined approach offers the opportunity to immediately integrate the knowledge, skills and mindsets developed through the program to the context of an actual classroom.

After completing two years with the program in Victoria, Ash moved to a remote town in the Northern Territory to take on a Leading Teacher role. “We had more than 600 students come from a catchment area of communities that is bigger than the state of Victoria. It’s humbling to spend time in the NT – the schools there are doing such important work and often with very little resources. At Katherine High School, I was leading a team of 16 teachers as the head of the English and Humanities departments, and was also part of the school’s Senior Leadership Team.”

“This role was very challenging, but also really rewarding. You can see the tangible impact that you have as a school leader every day with your staff and students. There is no way that I would have been able to take on a Leading Teacher role after two years in the classroom if it wasn’t for the support and development TFA provided,” Ash says. Associates’ professional development during the program is supported through experienced advisors and mentors who provide rigorous one-on-one coaching.

This year, Ash is taking on a new challenge. “I’m starting as a management consultant with the Boston Consulting Group. I’m going to miss the classroom and school environment for now, but am looking forward to being able to work at a systems-level on problems like education disadvantage.”

If he could give some advice to his younger self, Ash would say, “It’s going to be full-on, but it is going to be the most meaningful thing you will have done.”

The bigger the challenge, the greater the reward. Apply now.

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We work in regions and communities where Associates can have the most impact, which often leads to once-in-a-lifetime opportunties to live in a new, exciting, and diverse regions of Australia.