Graduate Profile: Cameron West
Name: Cameron West
What degree/s did you study (and year of completion)?
Bachelor of Applied Science (Exercise and Sport Science), graduated in 2010.
Where do you currently work (sector/organisation) and what is your position title?
In 2011, I started my own business, Pro Training Programs
Pro Training Programs (PTP) gives all athletes access to professional, sport specific training programs written by the best coaches and trainers in their sport.
We have partnered with coaches and trainers from the National Rugby League, Australian Football League, Super Rugby, and other professional sports in Australia. These coaches and trainers have risen to the top of their sport and have proven that they can get the most out of any athlete. Our coaches and trainers include Jeremy Hickmans who is the current High Performance Director with the Newcastle Knights in the National Rugby League (NRL), and Stuart Karppinen who is the former Australian National Cricket Strength & Conditioning Coach.
Professional coaches and trainers work with us to develop training programs designed to maximise sport performance for any athlete. Our training programs are sport specific. This means that they have been designed specifically for the characteristics of the sport.
Describe a typical day/week in your role.
As the sole founder of the company I have to wear a lot of different hats. This means that no two days are ever the same. This variety is what I enjoy most about my work. Every week I like to spend time talking to customers (customer development). As a new business I think it is important to keep in constant contact with customers to understand their needs and how you can improve.
I will also speak to my network of professional coaches and trainers. This is often to create new training programs. Finally I spend a lot of time on website development and marketing.
What are some of the biggest challenges in your current role?
The biggest challenge in my current role is just staying positive. There have been a lot of ups and downs over the past year. And no matter how many books I read that said this, reading it and doing it are two very different things.
To keep positive I now celebrate all wins, no matter how small.
Can you give a summary of your career journey so far? How did you get started in your career? What recruitment processes did you go through?
I started working in digital marketing well before I started at University. I started working as a digital marketer when I was 15 for my parents e-commerce business. At 17 I started my own digital marketing consulting business, SEM Results, providing cost effective online marketing solutions for small business. I continued to work as a consultant while studying at The University of Sydney. When I graduated I juggled a research position with the West Tigers (NRL Club) with my consulting business. I ultimately decided that I enjoyed digital marketing so much that I wanted to work at a digital marketing agency instead of working with a professional sports team as a coach or trainer. I started working with Atomic Search in 2010 as an SEM and SEO Account Manager. Within 1 year I became the Analytics Manager at the agency, developing custom web analytics solutions for medium to large businesses in Australia.
In 2010 I also started working with Volunteer Alliance. Volunteer Alliance is a social networking platform that connects international volunteers directly with CBOs in developing countries. Volunteer Alliance was developed to promote increased transparency and accessibility in international volunteerism.
Volunteer Alliance has provided me with a real career highlight! In 2012 I travelled through Southern Africa for 7 months meeting with local community based organisations to build profiles on the website. It was an amazing experience and as a result the website now has over 200 community based organisation profiles.
Which skills are highly valued by employers in your field? In your experience, what are the qualities of successful candidates e.g. relevant work experience, specific degree or industry qualification, specific skills, networks, extracurricular involvement?
Rather than employers I can talk about skills are highly valued by investors in my field. The most highly valued skills in a new business founder are passion and courage. Technical skills will certainly make your life easier, but there is nothing that cannot be overcome if you have passion and courage. If you are passionate about what you are doing, you can learn anything. And if you have courage, you will be able to do anything that you need to do.
What are your top three tips for university students wishing to enter your field of work? E.g. networking, postgraduate study.
I am probably a bit young to be doling out advice but here it is:
1. Execution is more important than a ‘genius’ idea. Even most of the good ideas have been had before. So what really matters is how you execute.
2. Start a business with a product where you are a customer.
3. Stay positive.
Are there any myths associated with your industry that you would like to debunk?
That all training is created equal.
What you do is more important than how you do it, and this goes for training. That is not to say that efficiency is not important, but it is useless unless applied to the right things.
You can train as hard as you like in the gym, but if you are not doing the wrong exercises with the wrong weights, then you will never get the right results.
The other myth is that every PT, coach or website is an ‘expert’ in fitness. Unfortunately there are a lot of people out there following very poor training programs written by these ‘experts’. They might be improving, but they certainly are not getting the most out of their training.
How do you manage the balance in your life?
My work hours are flexible. Which is both a good thing and a bad thing. I try to treat it like any other job. I set my own hours and then I stick to them. I am really into sport so drags me away from my desk every day for training. That and catching up with friends gives me a great balance.
How do you keep current in your field? (e.g. professional development, membership of professional associations, conferences, networks)I am lucky when it comes to the Exercise and Sport Science of my business because I work with the top coaches and trainers in Australia. My involvement with these coaches and trainers keep me current on the latest training techniques and technologies. For my business I read a lot of ‘start up’ books. I think they have their own genre now. And I really enjoy reading them. Finally for the online, I tend to read weekly blogs. With the speed at which things change this is the only real way to stay on top of it.