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Academy Xi Blog

Can remote work & the great resignation ‘go the distance’?

By Academy Xi

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Following record-breaking demand for remote work, online educators and training providers have galvanised in response to ‘The Great Resignation’.

Supplying a sudden demand for employees with a digital skillset, these companies are preparing a ‘next generation’ workforce for the possibilities of remote work, helping millions stay ahead of the curve.  

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Conducting research at the start of 2019, employment website Indeed found that 68% of Australian employers had remote workers on their staff. Of these employers, 69% claimed that increased productivity was the biggest benefit of remote working, followed by improved morale, lower absenteeism and reduced employee turnover.

Data for Indeed’s survey was captured nearly a year before Coronavirus came into effect, with Australia’s first case confirmed on the 25th of January 2020 and restrictions beginning a few months later in March. A world of change has been presided over since the report’s publication. A more up-to-date study would document a much larger proportion of Australian companies facilitating remote roles. 

Large parts of Australian industry were locked down in response to the pandemic, with the Australian Computer Society (ACS) reporting the loss of 850,000 jobs throughout March and April in 2020. Meanwhile, Australia’s borders were closed to non-residents as of the 20th of March in the same year and the education sector was dramatically impacted. ACS pinpoints education as the nation’s fourth largest export earner. Like so many other companies and institutions, Australian education and training providers with a progressive mindset have upped their resourcefulness and continued to provide in-demand skills solutions online. 


A Remote Possibility

Though homeworking has been a cultural and economic necessity throughout coronavirus restrictions, it seems more than likely that a number of businesses who’ve sampled its benefits will move toward a larger remit of remote work permanently. 

As well as the personnel improvements noted by Indeed, a remote workforce offers the added financial incentive of less bricks-and-mortar office space. However, not every company’s activities will have translated well into an online infrastructure and some will revert to business-as-usual operations as soon as possible.

But what about companies that already had their sights set on remote horizons before the pandemic? For those businesses that made the leap into fully remote operations, it seems unlikely that many will find themselves looking back once the lockdown landscape is cleared.

A large number of organisations will have tested elements of a remote system throughout the pandemic and found it not only cost-effective, but also highly productive. This means many companies will emerge from the pandemic determined to maintain or even build out hybrid structures, with certain roles and responsibilities fulfilled from afar.

Man working at a desk behind a laptop

Teams of people might have found virtual meetings to be an unfamiliar substitute for in-person interactions. However, many will have realised that online meets work perfectly well and will continue to hold them because it saves time and money. For similar reasons, executives might think twice before booking a long distance flight on company expenses. Many top level professionals will hold future board meetings virtually, thrashing out deals and wielding their power in crisp white shirts and wrinkled pyjama bottoms. 

Mismatched clothing has become an in-joke shared between remote workers throughout the pandemic. It’s a sign of the times, when everyone has thrown everything they can muster together, or done unusual things to deal with unusual circumstances. 

There’s a widespread notion that the pandemic has made the vast majority of people resourceful and adaptable. That said, the spectrum of social and economic effects brought about by Coronavirus exist on a scale. Nobody could reasonably claim that a pyjama wearing executive has been pushed too far beyond their comfort zone. 

Countless workers employed in retail, hospitality, tourism and leisure industries will have found themselves in tough situations. It comes as no surprise that many have quit these kinds of industries and professions, never to return.


‘The Great Resignation’

A recent US Labor Department report documented that 740,000 employees working in leisure and hospitality industries resigned in April 2021. These people had staffed diners, roadside motels, sports bars and theme parks, before the venues of the iconic American experience were transformed into a temporary ghost town. Many of these employees have taken themselves to a newer haunt, which is very much alive and kicking.

Digital industries and an expanding online workspace have been the driving force behind ‘The Great Resignation’, also known as ‘The Big Quit’. A record-breaking 4 million Americans left their jobs throughout April this year, with a large proportion of them leaving low-paid, inflexible roles and seeking to reposition themselves in digital careers (US Labor Department Report, 2021). 

More recent statistics indicate that the mindset of the quit movement has been influential in all levels of employment. A poll conducted by Forbes in late June 2021 found that nearly 40% of white-collar workers would move to another company offering remote work rather than go back to an old office job. Forbes notes that “even highly sought after companies like Apple are scrambling to avoid mass-resignations from return-to-office policies”.

In a similar vein, a survey captured by insurance and financial services giant Prudential established that “one in three American workers would not want to work for an employer that required them to work on site full time” (Forbes, 2021). With this statistic in mind, Prudential vice chair Rob Falzon confessed, “If there’s one thing that keeps me up at night, it’s the talent flight risk.” 

Three men sitting at a table outside while having a meeting

A precise percentage of how many resignees are following new career paths into the digital space will only become clearer with time. However, this mass exodus of staff, which stretches far beyond the US and into global employment markets, has been fundamentally linked to the enhanced possibilities of remote work. 

A 2021 report by Harvard Business School examined the records of 9 million employees from 4,000 companies, discovering that staff in tech and healthcare industries were most likely to resign. This is especially true for employees of companies that experienced increased demand for products and services. It doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to conclude that some of these staff members must have felt overworked, or undervalued.  

Many industry specialists believe that a version of the Great Resignation is already taking shape in Australia, with the conditions for a major employment shift already aligning. A recent large-scale salary survey by Hays, a worldwide recruitment specialist with offices in most of Australia’s major cities, concluded 40% of Australians are seriously considering career changes. Interviewed by Yahoo Finance, Hays Australia managing director, Nick Deligiannis, forecasts the Australian big quit in these terms.

There are signs that there could be a ‘Great Resignation’ in Australia soon, too. The pandemic has been a rude intrusion to many Australians’ career plans. They have put their career plans on hold to help their organisation through the crisis. Now, they are focused on their career again and have begun prioritising advancement. But while career progression is valued, just 16 per cent of employees expect to receive a promotion in the next 12 months.” – Nick Deligiannis (Hays Australia)

All this represents a power-shift, as a perfect storm of pandemic conditions is changing the hearts and minds of an Australian workforce. On a global scale, more people than ever before want and expect flexible working conditions, as well as better all round lifestyles. In some cases, they’re prepared to turn their backs on senior roles with blue chip companies in order to make this happen.

Staying Ahead of the Curve

For anyone who values their own work-life balance, resigning, upskilling and pursuing a remote career is a process that’s perfectly relatable. What’s trickier to understand is the timing with which a whole raft of employees are throwing themselves into a sea change of career diversification.        

The Great Resignation was coined by Texas A&M Management Professor, Anthony Klotz, whose research acknowledges that people voluntarily quitting jobs in large numbers amid an ongoing recession represents a longstanding economic trend ‘turned on its head’. In short, people have always resigned in greater numbers when the economy is stable and job opportunities are relatively high. In times of recession, people tend to ‘stay put’ and resignation rates drop and remain low. 

From December 2000 to the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, resignation among the total US workforce never surpassed 2.4% (The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, 2021). The first year of the pandemic played out as expected, with a seven-year resignation low of 1.6% throughout 2020. From the Spring of this year, everything changed and long standing resignation records have been shattered, peaking at 4%. In the eye of the nation’s worst ever economic storm, more Americans than ever before have lept ship and searched for new opportunities in digital industries.     

The Great Resignation is a clear indication that many employees are becoming more proactive and savvy in their career moves. 49% of students that study with Academy Xi expect to secure a new role at a different company upon completion of their studies. Many of our students have realised that more enjoyable and stable opportunities have already presented and will continue to arise as the effects of the pandemic ease off. 

When Covid conditions pass completely, hiring rates are anticipated to continue moving upward, following a steady trajectory in the medium-term and replicating the growth patterns of previous post-recession economies. By upskilling through workshops and preparing to latch on to an upturn in remote work opportunities, millions of people are realising the value of staying ahead of the curve.  

A Great Resignation thought-piece article published in recent weeks by Forbes has argued that too many people are resigning without a new role lined-up. In doing so, they’re throwing themselves into limbo and losing the salary bargaining leverage that comes with keeping their current job contract. There’s a simple but failsafe solution to this problem, whereby people seeking better work opportunities can re-skill part-time, enter into the jobs market formally prepared for a new role and hand in their notice once a new position is secured. Before you make the leap into a digital career, get the skills and experience needed to land that new role and hit the ground running.


Realising A Workforce’s Digital Potential 

What does an increase in remote work opportunities mean for the next generation of employees? In short, it means absolutely everything. Remote workers have a better chance of balancing hard work, health and happiness – that all important trio of variables that contribute to individual productivity.

Throughout the pandemic, companies and employees have learned that embracing the overlapping nature of work life and life-in-general can bring about real results. Here, it’s useful to circle back to the findings of the Indeed report. The numbers don’t lie. Those people who are able to fulfil at least some of their job’s remit remotely tend to be more productive. The flexible scheduling of remote work also gives people a better chance to meet all of life’s other responsibilities. As a result, they’ll likely be more content in their work and remain loyal to their company. This is backed-up by the reduced staff turnover and absenteeism reported by Indeed.

When properly supported by training and skills development, digital industries give people more time and space to evolve their careers, perform their best work and realise their full professional potential.

Man behind laptop while team works around him

What does this look like? Well, some people like to work in bursts of an hour, broken-up by ten-minute periods of lying on the ground and doing everything possible to think of nothing. Meditating in the office should not be frowned-upon socially but does represent a trip hazard. Others are more zen working at 1am, after returning from a 24hour convenience store with a bottle of Mountain Dew, ready to start a graveyard shift of coding.

Giving talented people greater freedom to work in ways that suit their lifestyles will normally ensure maximum individual output and high quality work, helping a company as a whole achieve a healthier bottom line. As long as a remote employee manages their time, prioritises, keeps teammates ‘in the loop’ and hits deadlines, no one in a senior position will spend too much time thinking about how and when things got done.

It comes as no surprise that increased freedom means trust is a core component of the employer-employee relationships which oversee remote roles. The starting assumption will be that people are just as productive somewhere else as they are in the office. If they aren’t, or they struggle to juggle tasks effectively, most managers will treat that as an exception and course-correct when it’s necessary. It’s an arrangement that cuts both ways. Employers have an obligation to ensure that a workforce is properly trained for all the responsibilities that a remote role demands. More and more companies developing remote operations will contract the help of online trainers who practice what they preach. The best academies will offer flexible online course options that move fluidly with the times, providing up-to-date remote solutions for remote work problems.

With rapidly evolving digital infrastructure, a record breaking demand for working remotely, and online skills development providers preparing a ‘next generation’ workforce, the question on many people’s minds is not “Can remote work go the distance?”, but instead “Can I?”. 

The Great Resignation has shown us all that the toughest of times can make people bolder. Millions of people with digital career ambitions have immediately flipped the two words of this question into a new order, forming a simple but priceless statement of post-pandemic intent. “I Can”.

Academy Xi Blog

Behind the scenes: how Academy Xi drives student success

By Academy Xi

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Businesses want to be customer-centric, but few come close. How do we put our students front and centre, and deliver the best-in-class training in the digital space? Let’s take a look behind the scenes. 

Continuous learning is not just another fad: for many, it’s now a part of life. Learners from all backgrounds are flocking to short, skills-focussed training more than ever before. Motivations vary wildly – from kickstarting careers to reclaiming confidence, from helping businesses soar to simply learning for enjoyment. 

Check how we at Academy Xi, Make it Happen, for you and your future. 

So what does Academy Xi do differently to deliver the best experience and outcomes for our students? 

Sounds cheesy, but it really is a team effort, weaving human-centred design principles into everything we do. We chat to our leadership to learn more. 

Product Development 

Tiffany McHugh, Head of Product (Learning), explains Academy Xi’s approach to delivering highly engaging content for online learning. 

The Product Team at Academy Xi is made up of highly experienced, technically skilled learning designers who are using Human Centred Design principles to create world class online learning – essentially practising what we preach! With backgrounds from instructional design, teaching, education management, and multimedia design & production, the team uses a mix of learning theory and digital practices to design experiences, not just course content. 

At the heart of it, we aim to demystify technology in a rapidly changing industry. Our job is to explain complex ideas in simple terms, using plain friendly language, supported by plenty of real world examples and industry stories. No lofty jargon, no unexplained terminology, no intimidating concepts – we aim to make our courses as accessible as humanly possible. 

Our courses are particularly unique in that we create our own learning frameworks; these are deeply researched, co-designed with industry experts, and delicately balanced sets of design, business and technical skills that employers in digital industries want. These frameworks underpin all course material we create in-house, ensuring we deliver the learning outcomes students need for their careers now, and into the future. 

The result is a suite of online courses that give students the perfect mix of skills, practice and knowledge they need to confidently advance their careers, or even start a new career

The courses are easy to progress through, using a combination of multimedia content, plenty of interactivity, lots of social engagement opportunities and regular learning support from the mentors and student experience teams. Our learning platform is specifically selected for the best user experience possible, and feedback confirms this to be true – our students love it! 

Learning is a two-way conversation, so we design-in plenty of opportunities for learners to check their growing capability, get feedback and test ideas with others.

We also update our course content regularly to make sure what we teach is as current and fresh as you will find anywhere in the world. 

I was blown away by how the course was put together and loved the fortnightly catch ups with my group. The course structure and delivery kept us all engaged with the topics we were covering each week and a lot of the resources were very comprehensive and super helpful. I liked the mixture of mediums used for course instruction – video content, written and live tutorials – it worked well. I also really enjoyed the quizzes and having break out rooms to discuss concepts with my classmates.” – Imogen Abandowitz, Digital Marketing Elevate graduate

Student Experience

Chris Veness (Head of Design & Business Portfolio)  and Renju Phillip (Head of Technology Portfolio) chat to us about how the student experience is shaped by mentors and the student support team. 

The Academy Xi Student Experience team has a combined 30 years of expertise in delivering online education and building digital capability. The team’s commitment to delivering a first-class learning experience for our students really sets us apart.

Our learning model empowers students to not only absorb new (and sometimes complex) concepts, but also put what they learn into practice right away. 

We do this by engaging some of the world’s best industry practitioners as our ‘Mentors’. With backgrounds ranging from Customer Experience to UX Design and Data Analytics to Software Engineering, these qualified professionals know what first-class looks like and are very passionate about sharing their knowledge.  

Every person who chooses to study our courses achieves the highest level of commitment and support from our team to ensure they succeed – in the course, and beyond graduation.

We pride ourselves on our small class sizes, which allow students to participate more fully in discussions and get to know each other more intimately.

Academy Xi online training was completely different. I made so many new connections and I felt a sense of community that I didn’t with university training. The class sizes were small, so we actually got to know each other – it was way more engaging.” – Oshi Paranavitane, UX UI Design Transform graduate

Our live sessions are run by Mentors who provide far more than just training –  they supply our students with operational perspectives from their current industry practices, using client scenarios and real case studies to bring the learning to life.

“There’s always this question in your mind of whether I could have learned it on YouTube. You see a lot of stories around software developers or engineers self learning on Udemy. But where this course distinguishes itself is the real people – a supportive peer to peer network. Making use of the unlimited mentoring sessions was critical. [My mentor] Albert did a great job and I didn’t know initially that you could book time with him everyday, but then, after a few weeks when I did that, and started accelerating – it made all the difference.” 

– Barry Nguyen, Software Engineering Transform graduate

Our courses are all designed such that our students learn by doing, and walk away with immediately applicable practical skills. Projects are therefore an important cornerstone of each course. Depending on the course, these may be real-world client projects, or personal projects. 

Live client projects are a unique feature of our Transform courses, which really take learning to the next level. Students work on real business problems and deliver their solutions using learned skills. Our students graduate with real world experience and exposure to relevant industry practices… and have the portfolio or github profile to showcase these projects. 

Our unique training and delivery model ensures the highest level of success to best prepare our graduates for any interview.

“I went in with high expectations, which were all met. I totally understand why people recommend this course, and in particular, Hayden… [the training and project] absolutely enabled me to get the job with Westpac.” –  Yuka Mochizuki, UX UI Transform graduate

Career Support 

Will Phillips, Head of Career Support & Talent Services, explains the different tools used to empower our Transform graduates to secure jobs in their field of choosing.

Everyone’s journey is different when it comes to their career path, and here at Academy Xi we provide our graduates with the tools, support and guidance to help them take that first step towards achieving their individual goals and landing that dream job. During their Transform course students have access to our digital Career Toolkit which establishes the foundations needed to be job market ready, covering topics such as resumé writing, crafting the perfect cover letter, building a personal brand and harnessing the power of LinkedIn for your job search. 

Post-course our graduates can opt into our industry-leading Career Support Program where they have access to a Career Coach to help refine their job search strategy, in a one-on-one setting. As participants in the program, the graduates are in the driver’s seat and are accountable for their own job search, with the Academy Xi team on hand to help them navigate the employment market, providing insights, advice and guidance where necessary. Everything from interview preparation, networking tips and mindset coaching is available as part of the Career Support program, which is tailored to each participant’s needs through our personalised approach.

Our Talent Services team are focused on creating awareness within industry about the pipeline of graduates coming through our courses and tap into our extensive network of employers to seek out potential opportunities that might be the right fit for someone at the start of their new career.

As a team, what motivates us is seeing our graduates land that first role and transform their careers into something new and exciting. We are very proud that 9 out of 10 of our active participants in the Career Support Program land a role in under 180 days. In many ways this last phase is the toughest part of the whole course, it’s not easy to get your foot in the door and it takes a lot of drive and determination. A job search is challenging and there is no golden ticket or cheat sheet to achieve instant results. Everyone’s path is different and those graduates who put in the hard yards and stay motivated are the ones that make it happen.

“The practical up-to-the-minute advice from Dan and the Career Support team was absolutely outstanding. Being able to practice for mock interviews and talk through how to best approach my non-linear career journey, and compose my own narrative for the job market, was critical to land my new role shortly afterwards.” 

Alessio Somma, Service Design graduate

In the words of Matt Hill, Co-CEO, “It’s absolutely fantastic to hear these success stories – from both students and corporate clients –  as it reinforces that our approach to learning is delivering tangible individual and business outcomes. It’s so pleasing to see teams come together to deliver a fantastic result for our students and clients.” 


With Academy Xi, you can make it happen. 

For your business. For your career. For your team. For your future. 

To learn more about our courses for individuals and teams, contact us at [email protected] or 1300 098 165.

Academy Xi Blog

Help! I can’t find good digital talent!

By Academy Xi

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Expert tips on finding good digital talent 

We sat with Ainsley Johnstone (Think Talent) and Will Phillips (Academy Xi) to chat about the challenges & weigh up the possible solutions of hiring digital talent. With years of experience in recruitment and talent services, here are some strategies for tackling the talent crisis.

If you missed our webinar or want to watch it again, check out the full recording.

Takeaway 1: Recruitment-wise, 2021 is the opposite of 2020.

Ainsley: The situation year to year has changed dramatically. In 2020, the recruitment industry was significantly impacted by the pandemic. We experienced an immediate 70% drop in revenue and pipeline. The talent market then experienced a glut of candidates into the market. The important point here is that we became accustomed to the idea that the market was ‘job short and candidate rich’. What’s happened in 2021 is that the market has done a complete flip. What’s been challenging has been the speed at which this change occurred. I now have no problem in terms of job pipeline but Ii’m forced to think day and night about where to find good digital and tech talent and how to engage and access that talent in competition to others.

Takeaway 2: When hiring, creativity can lead to competitiveness. 

Ainsley: Beyond simply being competitive in terms of salary, there are optimisations that you can make to your hiring process to make sure that you are ‘in the game’.

  • How do we change the way that we engage around candidate assessment? 
  • Can we reduce those five assessment hurdles down so that the overall process takes a reasonable investment of time?
  • Can we take more risk with certain segment groups by bringing them on much sooner and letting them do the assessment in the workplace? 

Will: I see that startups are winning in the current market as they are more open to bringing on someone that may be a bit less senior. They can create an opportunity for someone to step up. This helps them mitigate the battle for more senior candidates they can’t necessarily afford.

Takeaway 3: Speed is ‘king’ when securing placements 

Ainsley: Lack of speed from organisations kills placement. What we are seeing with our clients is that if they take up too much time over the recruitment process, it has a really significant impact on their hiring outcome. Businesses need to go back to basics. It’s really important that they enter the recruitment process with a really clear understanding of: i) what they can and can’t pay ii) understanding of the talent market iii) what the market rates are iv) whether or not they’re actually going to be in the market v) and if so, what percentile will they occupy in the market. Businesses that do these things know what top talent looks like. They’re not being held up by approvals or going up and down the line trying to establish parameters.

Takeaway 4: The winners are those who are acting now

Will: Businesses need to create some urgency around addressing their hiring challenges and understand that things are probably going to be like this for a while now. The talent is there. The businesses that are setting themselves apart are those who are harnessing the current climate, investing in things like capability uplift programs and graduate programs, and are in turn creating space for employees to provide support to less senior talent that they bring into their businesses

Takeaway 5: Succession planning is more than a ‘nice to have’

Will: I am seeing a lack of foresight in terms of succession planning from organisations. There isn’t the creating or shifting of resources to focus on upscaling new employees from a junior or mid level. It’s a really shared problem across the digital and tech space. I think what we need to see is you know a bit of a mindset shift.

Ainsley: I believe that organisations want to bring in talent that needs to be developed but they are already operating in challenging, complex environments. They also can be  under-resourced so it can be hard for them to prioritise building out that talent in flight.

What did we learn from you?

We asked our audience questions during the webinar. This is what you told us.

In a recent poll we conducted, almost 8 out of 10 participants shared that they’re feeling the pinch of finding good talent. In fact, Gartner reports that it is even harder today than 3-4 years ago to plan for, find and hire the talent we need. 

When asked about the reasons behind this, our participants shared that they’re struggling to find candidates with the right mix of skills (32%), candidates are demanding higher salaries than ever (21%), and that the skills are always rapidly changing (21%).

Software engineering roles are the hardest to fill followed by UX UI Designers. 


Our poll results give us an insight in a compacted labor market where organisations are struggling to find the talent they need in order to drive their businesses forward. We can help you transform your workforce. We have talent programs designed to reskill existing staff, source external candidates or provide access to our own talent pipeline including Australia’s best design, tech, data, business and digital talent. Contact us to learn more.

About our panellists

Ainsley Johnstone. Founder & CEO, Think Talent.

Ainsley Johnstone leads an award-winning recruitment agency (Think Talent) which focuses on how people, customers and digital technology intersect to create powerful outcomes. An entrepreneur at heart, Ainsley enjoys strategically engaging talent and building employment brand equity that will enable growth and vision.

[email protected]

Will Phillips. Head of Talent Services, Academy Xi

Will heads up Academy Xi’s Career Support & Talent Services arm which connects skilled graduates with workplaces in need of exceptional talent. He draws on a working career involving career coaching, recruitment and talent scouting. As the demand for future technology skills grows, Will and his team provide solutions.

[email protected]

Academy Xi Blog

Tribe Spotlight: Marina Chelak

By Academy Xi

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Our Community Programs Manager, Marina, is celebrating her 3 year anniversary working at Academy Xi. We chatted about her journey so far (and discovered she’d quite like to give diamond mining a whirl…). 

Tribe Spotlight: Marina Chelak

Hi Marina! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. 

First up, can you describe your role in three words?

Creator of opportunities.

Casting your mind back…do you remember your first day at Xi?

I do, actually! I especially remember my second day because it was a colleague’s birthday. The Melbourne team were discussing how to surprise him; so I decided to get some helium birthday balloons. Later that day I discovered that you have to order them in advance – I had no idea as it was my second week in Melbourne and Australia in general. I’d recently moved after living in Europe for five years.

Anyway, I spent the whole night googling and I managed to get the balloons. I was glad I could add some brightness and contribute to his birthday. On that day, I also realised how cool and caring the whole team in Melbourne was.

I remember from my first day being really impressed with the onboarding process. It was on Trello back then. It seemed so organised and fun at the same time and it made me look forward to everything else that was going to follow.

How has your job at Xi changed over the years?

This is the part I like the most about my work as my role has changed a few times. This has given me the chance to explore different areas of the business.

When I first joined Xi, I started as a Campus and Events Coordinator. I was the sidekick to our Events Manager by day and a “Campus Director” by night when we had our evening courses going on after hours.

I loved how dynamic my work was, how many interesting people I was meeting and how much I was learning from them all on a daily basis. During that role I learnt how to own whatever I was doing and to never diminish the value of even the smallest tasks, because it’s all those small details which make great experiences.

I am grateful for my team making me think about my work this way back then. I’ve lived and breathed that insight throughout my work since.

A few months into the Campus and Events role, I transitioned over to being the Events Producer after the opportunity to step up became available. It was hard farewelling my Manager, as I felt like I still had so much to learn from him, but this was also when the Melbourne team came to support me the most. Thanks to them, I was able to continue growing our community through a variety of multiple events and meetups, bringing together people willing to share and learn from each other. 

After a year and half working with events, I had a big change and moved over to our (then) newly established B2B team. I was working with an audience that was new to me – corporate. 

Always open to a new challenge and adventure, I happily jumped into it and I’ve learnt heaps of new skills including business development and how to run online events.

Despite having a great team and manager, I realised how much I was missing the presence of community in my life and that it was in fact what I’ve been so passionate about all this time.

Luckily at Xi people usually get recognised for their interests and they end up where they truly belong. That’s how I made the move into my current role as Community Programs Manager, where I run our community-based In-Residence mentoring program, connecting our students with experts. This supports them to a faster transition into their new industry.

You’ve had quite the journey so far! How did you first learn about Academy Xi?

I started looking for a job in Australia when I was still in Europe. I applied for a role at Academy Xi before even moving here. At the time I’d never heard about Xi – I just found the job ad quite catchy! 

Back then I was looking for work in both tourism and event industries, but I was very keen to work in a start-up.

Two days after arriving in Melbourne from Europe, I had my interview with Academy Xi. I remember I was very jet-lagged but it was the best job interview I’d ever had.

How do you balance your career at Xi and your personal life?

There were times when my work at Xi was my focus – but I loved it because I was in a stage of accelerated growth and learning. I was very excited about having what I had professionally. 

With time, as my priorities in life started changing, I felt more work-life balance in my day to day. I’ve felt that there has always been an option for having that balance – it’s really about how you choose to approach it, how you want that work-life ratio to be.

However, I’ve been so lucky to work with people who I consider my friends that at the end, the border between personal life and work becomes blurred anyway.

How has Xi helped you in your career development?

Xi has always been a place where I could experiment – where I could try without being too afraid to fail. The experiences I’ve had have helped me to discover where I stand in terms of my skills, passion and capabilities. 

Since the first day I’ve had the freedom to do the work my way and when needed, I’ve always had the support of my team. Having such great conditions for applying my creativity, while at the same time having the feeling of safety and support, has definitely been a catalyst for my career growth and development at Academy Xi.

It’s important to emphasise that when I say Academy Xi, I mean people who I’ve worked with in the company. You know the saying that you’re the average of people who you’re surrounded with. Well, my average has grown tremendously after I joined the team and I continue to learn from them every single day.  

If you could job swap with anyone else within Academy Xi, whose role would you want?

If you’d asked me this question a year ago, I could’ve given you a more interesting answer, but at the moment, I am very much in the place I want to be.

However, our Product team does some fascinating things, the way they build our courses. I believe my curiosity would like to explore what it’s like to be a Learning Designer for a day.

What is your proudest accomplishment or moment here at Academy Xi? Or favourite project?

All smiles at the International Women's Day Event in Melbourne, hosted by Stone and Chalk
All smiles at the International Women's Day Event in Melbourne, hosted by Stone and Chalk

Throughout the last three years, I’ve had a few projects and accomplishments that I am proud of. 

One of them is Pitch X Night – a pitching competition for the startups, which was born before I stepped into the role, but I was able to revive it together with the other two amazing Melbourne communities: YBF Ventures and The Silicon Beach. This event involved way more stakeholders and elements than any other Xi event and it’s preparation took at least 2-3 months.

The complexity of it and the impact it had on the lives of the entrepreneurs who were just at the beginning of their start up journey at the time was what made it special to me. Among the winners were some startups that are still on the market now and some of them are quite successful. The ideas that the Pitch X Night and the prizes that the winners received played at least a small part in their success today makes me proud and happy!

Of course, I can’t stop myself from speaking about the current In-Residence Program that I run – this is my favourite project so far. It’s the program I’ve been involved in from the very beginning and I’d love to grow further. Working with incredible people, creating opportunities for their growth, development, showing them that they can make a huge impact on other people’s lives and in the industry they work in, is what gives purpose to my own work. 

Before working at Academy Xi, what was the most unusual or interesting job you ever had?

While studying at Uni in Russia, I had a part-time job as a Mechanical Computer Engineer. I was the only female in the team of men that built personal computer system units and tested them before sending them to the retail shop. 

Marina – you’re on the homestretch now. Some quickfire questions to end our time with you today!

Embarrassing work moments?

I have a really bad memory, but I believe that if I had a really embarrassing moment at work, my colleagues wouldn’t allow me to forget it!

If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see cast as you?

Helena Bonham Carter

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?

Diamond miner

Motto or personal mantra?

Work smart, not hard

Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.

I worked as an accountant for 4 years

You’re happiest when?

When I do what I like, be it traveling, enjoying delicious food together with friends, working on a project I’m passionate about or getting myself into another new hobby!