Interview with Valerie Khoo, founder of the Australian Writers' Centre

12 September 2013

Valerie Khoo graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Economics in 1991, and has since gone on to be an award-winning entreneur, author and founder of the Australian Writers' Centre and Social Callout. We had a chat to Valerie about her career and how she made the transition from accountant to author.

How did you go from graduating with an Economics degree to a career as a writer?

I studied a Bachelor of Economics majoring in Accounting. So I initially began my career as an accountant and joined PricewaterhouseCoopers. However, I soon realised that I wanted to do something more creative and I always had a passion for writing, even when I was at school. So I decided to study Communications and majored in Public Relations and Journalism.

At first, I transitioned into a career in public relations but began freelance writing on the side. However, I soon realised that I really needed to give full-time writing a go. So I made the transition and I never looked back. I love writing and I'm so glad that I made that choice!

How did the Australian Writers' Centre came about?

In 2005, I founded the Australian Writers' Centre, first in Sydney. But since then we've become a national organisation that provides short writing courses both online and in the classroom. At the time, I was in accounting and I was doing writing courses after hours at a variety of different places. I wanted to create a dynamic and exciting writing centre that can help adults who are looking for a career change, or who simply want to turn their dreams of writing a book into a reality. It's a wonderful business to be in because I'm helping people achieve their writing dreams - many get published or change careers as a result of the courses we run.

What experiences did you have at the University that prepared you for what you're doing now?

I value my accounting and commercial law studies so much. I run more than one business. My other business is, a service that connects businesses with bloggers. If you want your business to succeed, you need to understand your cash flow, balance sheet and legal implications. That's been made so much easier for me because of my university background.

What has been a highlight of your career so far?

Every single week I get emails from former students who are so happy and excited that they've been published, or that they've been given a promotion at work as a result of improvements in their written communication skills. I think that's a highlight and I find it incredibly rewarding to be able to play a small part in making a difference in someone's life.

I was also honoured when we won the Telstra Business Awards and when Dell named the Australian Writers' Centre one of the 10 most innovative small businesses in Australia.

I have a real passion for both storytelling and the business world. So last year, I combined these two passions and authored the book, Power Stories, The 8 Stories You MUST Tell to Build an Epic Business. It was published by Wiley and, so far, has been translated into Portuguese and Spanish.