Academy Xi Blog

Student Spotlight: Grace Mantilla

By Academy Xi

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Interior designer turned visual merchandiser Grace Mantilla is carving a new career in digital marketing. A creative at heart, she’s now helping a non-profit build their brand and online presence. 

Read our chat with her as she shares her story and journey in the digital marketing space.

Tell us about you Grace, your personal and professional career? How did you start? 

My first professional dream was to become an Interior Designer which I managed to achieve when I was living in the Philippines. When I migrated to Australia in 2010, I struggled getting in the same field. To gain work experience, I decided to apply for a role in retail. I became a sales associate and found myself getting naturally appointed to become the in-store Visual Merchandiser. I was blessed with a manager who recognised my skills and urged me to follow that path. Since then, I have been doing Visual Merchandising as a full-time role, as well as contracting individual projects as a freelancer.

What made you decide on upskilling?

I have always been a learner, a consistent student, as my friends would call me. I like to learn new things and challenge myself. Every time I feel that life gets boring, I entertain myself through education. Before the pandemic hit, I was already contemplating on upskilling and hoping to carve a new career path. When the world took a stand still in 2020, I took that as an opportunity to pick a course to study and enrol. I found myself getting immersed in Digital Marketing.

Why did you choose Xi and what made you choose your course?

I was initially interested in learning UX Design. I remember going to one of Academy Xi’s info nights in Sydney to dip my toe in the water. However, I found the learning curve steep, so I decided to switch to Digital Marketing. Plus, a friend of mine suggested it too. 

There were a lot of online courses offering Digital Marketing. I attended a few free intro courses with different organisations and read reviews about several institutions before deciding. I found myself genuinely interested in learning Strategies, Content and Social Media – three areas where I would like to focus my attention. 

To be honest, I cannot even remember why I chose Academy Xi. All I know is that it felt right and somehow the institution made me feel that I belong. I love how they have built a good community of learners and mentors.

The course was very extensive, and I learned more than I expected. It was exciting!

Tell us what you enjoyed most about the whole experience

I found myself looking forward to our Monday night sessions with my classmates and mentor. It was tough to understand the theories at first, but the activities and assessments helped in applying what we have learned so far. The part I enjoyed the most was  the team projects where we worked with real-life clients. I was excited to put my learnings into action! Whilst it was nerve wracking to speak and present to a client, it was rewarding at the same time. Those mini achievements meant so much to me and our team, as well as our mentor.

Were there any personal or professional obstacles that you had to overcome to complete your studies?

I was very blessed to have supportive family, friends, and teammates. Apart from a few concepts and theories that are harder to comprehend (I’m looking at you Programmatic Advertising and Finance Calculations), I feel all went well while I studied. Our mentor was approachable and always ready to give me a hand whenever I get stuck.

Tell us more about what you’re doing at the moment. 

While working part time, I am participating in Academy Xi’s Outcomes Program and hoping to land a role in Digital Marketing. I am starting to expand my network connections on LinkedIn and connect with like-minded people (If that is you, hit connect and send me a note! Here’s my LinkedIn profile!). Oh, and I do yoga daily. It is one of my new year’s resolutions to practice every day for a whole year. Wish me luck!

Has the content you have learnt been useful in your career? Could you give an example of how/where you used the knowledge learnt?

All the content that I have learnt is useful in building my career as a Digital Marketer. It has given me confidence to carve a new path and continue my journey. To keep myself busy and to continually apply my learnings, I am helping a non-profit start-up company build their website and brand awareness online through social media. If you are curious, follow Alt Coffee Beans on Instagram and Facebook to see our progress, although it is very much in its early stages. 

What are your plans for the future?

I am focusing most of my energy on landing a role in Digital Marketing and working on the non-profit project. Whilst my priority is to land a full-time role, I am also open to internships and expanding my experience in an office environment. Continually learning, getting better and sharpening my skills.

Any advice or tips you would like to pass on to our current and future students?

If I am to give any advice for future and current students, it would be to never give up. Yes, it is a cliché, yet one that is also true. Education is an achievement that cannot be taken from you and continuously learning is a gift. Every step you take towards your goal is worth it. Believe in yourself and soon you will find that you are a better person today than you were yesterday.  As for tips? Ask. Always!

Interested in any of our Digital Marketing courses? Whether you’re looking to upskill or completely change your career, we have the right course for you. Explore our Digital Marketing courses today.

Academy Xi Blog

The chatbot keeping your mental health in check

By Academy Xi

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Startup Mental Health Crisis

According to a medical study by the University of California, nearly 50 percent of business founders have self-reported mental health conditions. The same study also revealed that founders were more likely than the general population to report substance abuse and bipolar disorders.

What’s happening to our entrepreneurs?

Nine out of ten startups fail. Entrepreneurs experience enormous pressure — not only from investors, but also from their staff, customers, and families. They carry the weight of the entire business on their shoulders. The startup culture has a hard time accepting and talking about failures. If entrepreneurs aren’t “killing it,” then they’re likely to be struggling alone.

The fail fast mantra doesn’t help those founders who fail slow and ultimately burnout. The entrepreneurial burnout is real and can land founders in the ER if they’re not careful. Avis Mulhall, founding CEO of Australia’s first disability-focused technology incubator, warns people not to put founders on a pedestal and envision them as the pinnacle of success.

As someone who has experienced a burnout, Avis explains that entrepreneurs are just like everyone else. “They have the same struggles, the same fears and anxieties. The difference is that they do it anyway and they don’t let fears or anxieties hold them back.”

Technology is propelling businesses into the future faster than ever before. While the speed of technology and the rate of change may cause an entrepreneur to fail, it may also offer a solution. And that solution comes in the form of a virtual assistant, a chatbot that will listen to the stories of failure and lend a helping, artificial hand.

The Rise of Chatbots

Do machines dream?

Chatbots date all the way back to the 1950s when computer scientist Alan Turing created the first machine intelligence test: the Turing Test. Computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum used this test on computer program ELIZA to trial the first ever conversation between a computer and a real human. ELIZA is considered the first chatbot and has led to the rise of chatbots in the 21st century. Today, the ELIZAs of the world work for companies behind the scenes, often as the customer’s first point of contact.

Chabots are commonly used by companies to provide customers with additional information and help them navigate through a host of products and services. Every month, virtual assistant Siri helps 41.4 million users find the information they need, without having to physically navigate the web.

While chatbots have helped millions of businesses improve their customer experience, at the same time, Hollywood is painting a dark and macabre picture of A.I’s. The A.I’s in iRobot and Terminator have surpassed human intelligence and threaten to kill us all.

But, will the future of chatbots and artificial intelligence really end in fire and brimstone?

More recently, chatbots have found a new reason to exist. And that existence is marked by helping people who suffer from mental health issues find the support they need.

Could a chatbot help guide CEOs through the struggles of startup life and steer them away from an entrepreneurial burnout?

Meet Amelie, the Artificially Intelligent Chatbot

Julian Bright is the founder of, an Australian mental health chatbot that connects people through Facebook messenger with support services and resources. Julian believes technology can play an important role in servicing communities that are isolated and supporting people who just need someone to talk to.

“Having worked in startups, it’s easy to see why mental health issues may be more pronounced,” says Julian. “Entrepreneurs are constantly juggling lots of different things and dealing with the ups and downs of startup life is hard.”

To help entrepreneurs like himself alleviate the pressures of startup life, Julian looked into the rise of chatbots to find alternative ways A.I could provide assistance to humans.

Earlier this year, a study on virtual-agent therapists was conducted with war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress. Research concluded that war veterans were up to three times more likely to reveal symptoms of post-traumatic stress to a chatbot than on a military health assessment.

This study sparked Julian’s idea of using chatbots to help assist people with mental health issues. “That’s where the idea came from: I wanted to understand how a chatbot could be used to help reduce that stigma. And it’s a stigma associated with people not only seeking help, but opening up about their issues.”


Chatbots are designing a new kind of conversation that mimics human interaction and replaces the human touch with an artificial one. But, it’s not just chatbots changing the way we communicate, wearable technology and IoT devices are growing in power and importance. 

Learn more about the latest in technology through our online courses here.

Academy Xi Blog

Why I did the Digital Marketing Course at Academy Xi

By Olivia Bowden

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As the marketing landscape continues to evolve and the industry attracts talent from all backgrounds, the need to have the right skills as a marketer will also be more demanding. 

This was the case for Olivia Bowden, who works in our Corporate Partnerships team, and just recently graduated from our Digital Marketing Transform course. Read below as she shares her journey and experience one month after finishing the course. 

For quite some time I’ve known that I needed to add deep technical skills to my repertoire. It isn’t a question of whether my career journey to date has required certain expertise and knowledge- it has. 

I’ve worked across relationship and project management, public relations and sales. Each of these roles required their own raft of skills but there was a persistent voice in the back of my mind saying, “How do you plan to future-proof your career?”. 

While few of us can confidently say that our current role will be relevant in the future, we can ensure that the skills we bring to the table are. 

“I decided to take control of my future career.”

Although I thought that I’d always had a certain aptitude for marketing, I was also aware of just how much the marketing landscape has changed over the past decade. The average person today is estimated to see 5,000 ads per day. While I had studied public relations and journalism at university in the 2000s, the modern workplace requires marketers to create digital customer journeys, analyse data, optimise campaigns and support the broader CX strategy. I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. 

Like many others, it was the pandemic that gave me the push I needed to instigate a career pivot. I suddenly found myself with more spare time than ever before and by that stage, I had “done all of Kensington” (no, not Brighton). I knew that Academy Xi had recently launched their Digital Marketing Transform course designed to help people become digital marketers – and I wanted in.

Formalising my Digital Marketing journey

Embarking on a 24-week long journey was both compelling and intimidating. I thought often about how I was going to remain determined, grounded and show grit over a six month-long learning experience. I hadn’t studied so intensively in the ten years since I graduated in 2011. The first live, virtual workshop thankfully quelled my concerns. After ninety minutes of connecting with my mentor and classmates and being shown the breadth of the upcoming course, I felt like I had made the right choice for me at the right time. 

In the six months that followed, our class met every Monday night. I can compare these workshops to going to the gym. After a busy Monday at work, you don’t always feel like walking through the door but you never regret having done the workout. Thanks to a one-of-a-kind mentor (an expert digital marketer herself), I would invariably find the workshops stimulating, absorbing and energising. 

I also began to get a flavour for the kind of digital marketer I wanted to be as we worked our way through modules, client projects and portfolio development. 

Collaboration, real clients, and real team projects

Even though my decision to study again was driven by career goals, the highlight of the course for me was social. I studied with a terrific group of like-minded folk from a range of professional backgrounds. The second half of the course is divided into two, individual client projects (each six weeks long) where Academy Xi sourced real businesses to brief us on a digital marketing ‘problem’ they were experiencing. My first client didn’t have any real marketing strategy whereas my second client needed help to optimise their existing activities.

The highlight of this portion of the course for me was that I had the chance to work in two small groups. Not only did I find this fun but it is also where my greatest learnings took place. Where one of us excelled in visual communication, the other was a brilliant copywriter. One person may wear a predominantly strategic hat and the other would design a full social media campaign. It was this sharing of knowledge and skills that is for me by far the greatest takeaway from the program.

“As I now move into a full-time marketing role, my decision to take on such an intensive program feels validated.” 

It is my opinion that there is no better way to learn than on the job. That said, the Digital Marketing Transform course has set me up perfectly to take up this new challenge and get “on the tools” straight away. I have the confidence and skillset to make an immediate impact.

The driver for me was to help future-proof my career. It took me a couple of years to actually make the decision to upskill but I won’t be procrastinating for that length of time again. I know that the modern workforce demands continuous growth, flexibility and adaptation. More importantly, however, I now know that I am capable of instigating that kind of change for myself.

Whether you’re looking to upskill or completely change your career, Academy Xi has the right course for you. Explore our Digital Marketing courses today.


Academy Xi Blog

5 ways to get the most value from learning opportunities

By Academy Xi

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So you’ve set aside the time for an awesome learning opportunity; whether it be a work training day, workshop, short talk, boot camp, or even a short course. The hard part? Retaining the most important takeaways, and then applying them effectively in the future. A boot camp/workshop structure makes sense for those wanting to quickly implement new skills and learnings; we run you through how to make the most out of newly learned content.

  1. Prepare

What you do before and after your workshop is just as important as what you do there. Prepare for the day by getting yourself acquainted with content, understand key terms, and outline what you want to get out of the day. Go further by outlining a list of areas that you are interested in exploring further, as well as a list of questions you might want to discuss in-class or with the speakers or teachers.

  1. Know your learning style

Everyone learns differently. If you don’t know your learning style, find out here. Once you know how you learn best, set yourself up on the day with the right tools in mind; for example, sit near the front if you’re a visual learner, and takedown diagrammatic notes. Reflecting on study methods and techniques that have helped you remember things previously, is also valuable; what has worked for you previously?

  1. Engage

To remember things, we need to actively engage. That means reiterating and repeating material in a way that makes sense to you, rather than passively reading or listening. Repeating it back, writing notes in your own words, and asking questions are all good ways of engaging with new content. Buddying up and bringing a work colleague along for the learning opportunity also greatly impacts your ability to later apply learned knowledge in new contexts.

  1. Be Present

Ever get through an introduction only to forget the person’s name a couple of minutes later? The next-in-line effect, where you’re nervously thinking about what to say next, inhibits memory. Being present means staying focused on what is happening now, and is incredibly important when learning new things and committing new information to memory.

  1. Reflect

Taking time at the end of the day to go through what you’ve learned, how it’s useful, and how you can implement it in the future is really important. Develop a post-training action plan, building on these takeaways you’ve explored in a given time-frame for action.

The takeaway:

If you’ve decided to invest your time, and money, in a new learning opportunity, it’s imperative that you prep yourself and get the most out of it. The main reason for a lack of information retention at these short, intense learning days, is that to properly acquire new skills and information, one must consistently practice these new skills, in-context.

Many think that passively listening to a talk or reading an interesting article will immediately result in new knowledge. Unfortunately, our brains don’t work that way. To understand new things, and gain new skills, it’s imperative to practice, practice, practice!

Learn more about our online courses here.