Ross completed his cloud studies while working on a PhD, working full-time at a high school, teaching four units at a university each semester, and co-founding a natural tourism organisation. All while raising six children.
Q&A with Ross Dowling
Can you tell us about your time at Deakin? Is there anything you especially remember?
I completed all of my study online and to this day I still have never stepped foot on any of Deakin’s campuses. What I clearly remember about my study was that Deakin was the leader in tertiary distance education at the time and my experience of learning from Perth, Western Australia was an extremely pleasant one.
What has been the biggest influence on your career?
The biggest influence on my career has been to surround myself with mentors. I sought out people who were very successful in their careers and then simply asked them to help me define mine. The advice and encouragement I received from these influential people was pure gold and I would encourage all other Deakin alumni to ensure they have three professional mentors to help them grow as people both personally and professionally.
Have you always wanted to pursue the kind of career you have embarked on? If so, when and how did you realise?
I have always been interested in two things – the environment and travel. So it was in my DNA to combine the two so I could live my passion to the full. As an environmental scientist I completed the world’s first PhD in ecotourism and from there I became a professor of tourism. My professional career has taken me all over the world advising governments on how to develop sustainable tourism in environmentally sensitive areas. Some of the places I have worked include the Antarctic, Galapagos, Borneo, Namibia, The Sultanate of Oman, the Grand Canyon, and Iceland.
What advice would you give graduates wanting to pursue a similar profession?
The best advice I can give graduates generally is to seek sound tertiary qualifications, look for ways to create your own jobs in established companies, and network through the Deakin alumni and other professional organisations.
What do you believe Deakin University has shown you/given you as a person?
Deakin showed me that it is possible to study when you are a busy professional. I studied for my Grad Dip Ed Admin at the very same time I was studying full time for a PhD, worked full time at a high school, taught four units at a university each semester, and co-founded a national tourism organisation. Having six children also added to this mix!
What are your passions outside your work?
Outside of work I love to travel. My wife Wendy and I lecture on Cruise Ships all over the world. Whilst some people see this as work, I love travel and enjoy seeing new remote places. I also love to read, mainly non-fiction, and also keep fit by going to a gym and walking.
How would someone describe you?
Probably most people would say I was driven, and I think they would be correct. I see the world full of tremendous opportunities and possibilities and I want to achieve as much as I can during my time on earth. I don’t want to be near the end of my life and think I should have done or achieved more.
Is there any advice you would give to a person who is starting our in your career?
The latter half of my career has been as an academic. My advice to a person choosing to start out in this field is to first complete your PhD. Today this is a not negotiable entry point. During tertiary studies it would be good to undertake some tutoring or lecturing so that you have some experience to offer your first post PhD employer. Along the way it would be good to undertake some professional experience working in your chosen field, outside of the University system. So the key is to be well qualified, have some teaching experience, and have some professional expertise as well.
What is something that amazes you?
It never ceases to amaze me that Australia is still a land of huge opportunities. We have been given so much by this nation that I feel it is our duty to ‘give back’ to the world. One easy way of doing this is to make the most of either Deakin’s Cloud Campus or four site based campuses by undertaking study that will either lift our current qualifications, knowledge or skills in our existing career, or alternatively take us into a new vocation where we have greater passion and/or opportunities. The choice is simple really and I am always amazed by those who see this simply truth and then act on it in order to secure a better future.
Is there anything else you’d like to add we haven’t covered?
Deakin stimulates the mind. It awakens the soul. It stirs you into action to take control of your life and fulfil your destiny. I feel very blessed that Deakin helped me forged my dream life and I am very proud to be the Vice-President of the Deakin Alumni Perth Chapter.