James Osenaris’ Bachelor of Commerce at Deakin set him up for an exciting career working with major businesses such as L’Oreal and Heinz and PZ Cussons.
Interview with James Osenaris
Can you tell us about your time at Deakin? Is there anything you especially remember?
I have very fond memories of Deakin University as it allowed me to gain the essential learning to pursue a career in Business. The breadth of subjects through the Commerce Degree allowed me to experience a wide view of business and understand which discipline I wanted to pursue. I also found the campus to have a great vibe and environment to develop interpersonal skills as well as academic, with plenty of co-curricular activities. I also developed my leadership skills through my involvement in the Deakin Commerce Society.
What has been your journey since finishing your course?
Upon finishing in 2005, I took a short time off to travel as I did not have a break between high school and starting tertiary studies. After that, I was on the hunt for jobs and put my resume out to as many companies that I researched as a good cultural fit. I was able to gain a graduate role as a Sales/Marketing analyst with global beauty company L’Oreal, and was able to work my way into commercial type roles before managing National Accounts in Grocery (I.e. Metcash, Coles & Woolworths). From there, my journey went into Food at Heinz, Beverages at Schweppes Australia and now consumer goods company PZ Cussons where I completed other National Account Roles as well as some time in Category Development along my career journey.
What has been the biggest influence on your career?
I think my time in co-curricular roles outside of school and university gave me a great foundation of business and leadership. It is those experiences outside of the textbooks that gave me the insight into how much I enjoyed being in business. Without those experiences, I don’t think I would have been as rounded, passionate and driven to chase the ambition within my career.
Have you always wanted to pursue the kind of career you have embarked on? If so, when and how did you realise?
It was pretty clear to me at around 15 that I wanted to be in business and leading/developing people through my career. I found myself enjoying problem solving and achieving results which was a good fit for what I ended up doing in my life. I really enjoyed being involved in committees and leadership positions so the natural best fit for those roles was going into business. It all blended quite well for me and has played out pretty much how I thought it would.
What advice would you give graduates wanting to pursue a similar profession?
Respect the textbooks for your practical knowledge as it is very important – but couple those skills with some co-curricular skills that can help you get the edge against others trying to be in similar roles. Healthy competition is important and it’s a key part of business – you are competing against others so how you are going to differentiate yourself from the rest is a question you should always ask yourself. Any experience is good experience and will help you achieve success in any business role.
What do you believe Deakin University has shown you/given you as a person?
Academic knowledge but also the ability to grow as a person. The campus was buzzing with activities and things to do so it wasn’t just all about the textbooks, which is important in today’s environment as being able to communicate and be personable is very important. Deakin also gave me the opportunity be involved in leadership committees such as the Deakin Commerce Society and Deakin Commerce Alumni where I was President of both these committees during my involvement.
What are your passions outside your work?
Over the years I have enjoyed being involved in committees and have also enjoyed radio broadcasting and MC/hosting events, but now with a wife and 6 month old daughter my passion is my family and trying to be the best dad and husband I can be. Sometimes it is hard juggling work and being a parent, so it’s critical that you focus on what is important. It’s fair to say my priorities have changed over the years, but it is important in any lifetime that you stay focused on what is important to you at the time, and sacrifice accordingly.
How would someone describe you?
I would hope to be described as someone who is genuine, driven and passionate to achieve success and growth in people and business. I also hope people that have worked with me see me as someone that wants to get the best of out of them. My mum said to me early in life to treat people the way you would like to be treated so hopefully I am described that way also. Lastly, I would want people to look back on my dealings with them with happiness and also see me as a mentor and someone that made a genuine impact on their life.
Is there any advice you would give to a person who is starting out in your career?
Starting out you are at your most inexperienced, so it’s a very important time to build your soft skills in business. Learn how to communicate, be diligent and proactive and think about how you can raise the bar in your role through good ideas and problem solving. As the years progress you will get more experience so you can call on those experiences to help you grow, but when you’re starting out, it’s more about attitude than anything else.
I also strongly advise to observe other more experienced people around you and take the good things from them to help you, but also understand what things you don’t want to be known for that you can watch out for.
It’s a long career, so it’s important that you learn and develop along the way.
What is something that amazes you?
I think I am always amazed at how fast time travels. As I reflect on my time in Deakin University, it seems like yesterday but it was 14 years ago. I think the learning from this as I have gotten older is to try and live in the moment, not to get too far ahead of yourself but still be passionate for what you are trying to achieve in life.
I am a huge advocate for lifelong learning – we are always learning and developing, so ensure it plays out through your lifetime.