Where are they now – Paul Miller (SPC 1976-81)
December 1, 2020
The College reconnected recently with former day student Paul Miller (SPC 1976-81) who provides advice, support and mentoring to aspiring business owners as an entrepreneurship facilitator for the Ballarat region. He believes more people will start their own businesses due to the impact of COVID-19. Paul looks back on his time at SPC and believes the people you meet and friends you make during your secondary school years are the ones you remember best in life.
Where has life taken you since leaving SPC?
After completing Year 12 at SPC in 1981, I went on to study business at, what was then, Ballarat University. This led to a job working at Shell’s Data Centre in Melbourne. After two and a half years I decided to go back to Ballarat University and do a Bachelor of Arts (as well as complete my Bachelor of Business).
Having a great interest in the Humanities, I continued to complete my honours year and then got a scholarship to do a PhD, which focused on how travel writers portrayed Indigenous Australians in two pivotal times in their history – 1830-1850, and 1920-1940.
While completing my PhD I became a research associate in the School of Business working under Professor Julian Lowe. This led to a career in business development and assistance roles, primarily as a trainer, mentor, and manager of the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme, better known as NEIS, working throughout western Victoria and Melbourne. In 2015 I started work in the same role with the Sarina Russo Group, and recently I became the Entrepreneurship Facilitator for the Ballarat region. The Entrepreneurship Facilitator Program is funded by the Federal Government to provide free assistance to people interested in starting their own businesses and I provide advice, support and mentoring to aspiring business owners. I now live and work in Ballarat once again and love the lifestyle Ballarat has to offer.
How is the coronavirus presently affecting your work and industry?
COVID has affected businesses and start-ups rather dramatically as we all know. I have been working from home since March and running webinars and providing assistance remotely. I look forward to getting back to a COVID normal when we can have more face-to-face contact with clients and colleagues. With a large increase in unemployment over the last six months, starting a business and being your own boss may become a more necessary option for many people so I look forward to helping those people achieve their business goals.
Do you have family ties with SPC?
What are your fondest memories of your time at St Patrick’s College?
I think the people you meet and friends you make during your secondary school years are the ones you remember best in life. I made some good friends and there were some very inspiring teachers and some whose style of teaching you only come to appreciate in later years. Many of the Brothers then were real characters and they always tried to give their best. I was even a boarder there for two weeks which was a memorable experience. Overall it was a great place to go to school. And getting third place in class in Year 8 was pretty good as well.
In my early years I also started learning guitar, taking lessons at SPC. This led to a lifelong love affair with playing music, performing in numerous bands, and writing and recording to this day. Two of the highlights of my performance career have been playing at Phillip Island’s Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix and then the World Superbikes Championships. What an audience!
Which teacher from your time at SPC had the greatest impact on you? Why?
I remember Brother Atton who taught science – he was very intellectual. Everyone called him “bomber” because he used to walk around with his hands behind his back, head forward, always a man on a mission. I think Brother Atton instilled a sense of curiosity in me and I actually wrote a paper on carnivorous plants as an extra curricula activity just because I was interested in them at the time. He was kind enough to read and grade it.
But all the teachers were very encouraging and supportive and always focused on the individual as much as the class. If you were prepared to learn, they were prepared to help.
How has your education shaped your professional life?
A good education gives you more options in life. For me it made me realise that if I put in the effort I got the results, and vice versa.
While we don’t always know what we want to do after school or what we want to be, at least having the foundations of a good education gives you the ability to adapt to what is now a rapidly changing world. And learning, as we all know, is a life-long pursuit and can be a reward in itself.
How has your time at SPC shaped your personal values and your family life?
I think the values that SPC instilled in me aligned with the values that my family practiced – so SPC was a good fit. I think SPC reinforced the values I already held.
If you could pass on one message to the students of today, what would it be?
I believe that the two most important attributes you need in life and in your career are curiosity and creativity. Bring these together and you can apply them to any aspect of your personal and professional life.