Daniel Ritlewski (Germany) - University of Melbourne
Course completed in Australia: Bachelor of Arts (BA Hons.) and Master of Commerce
Institution: University of Melbourne
Current position: Senior Business Development Manager, Victorian State Government
Daniel Ritlewski fell in love with Australia at the tender age of 14 after spending a summer with a host family in rural Victoria.
“The following year I returned to stay with my ‘Aussie family’, spent 12 months at Geelong High school after which I didn’t want to leave,” he says.
“It was the people, the country and the fantastic education system that motivated me to study in Australia.”
Ritlewski admits that he wasn’t exactly sure what he wanted to do, aside from study in a different language.
He decided against the UK and Canada, opting instead for “familiarity” and a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne, which managed to combine all his interests in politics, economics, English and Japanese (he’d previously lived a year in Japan).
In fact, the proximity of Australia to Asia was a big selling point for Ritlewski, a confirmed Asiaphile. “For me, being able to learn ‘proper’ Japanese and practise it was an important aspect.”
Urged on by a lecturer, he became the first international student at Melbourne University to win a scholarship to study abroad, completing the third year of his BA at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo.
“When I came back to Melbourne, I wasn’t sure whether I would get full credit for the course in Japan but I did and that hadn’t happened before either,” adding that one of the things he loved about the university was that kind of “flexibility and common sense”.
He also revelled in the mix of people.
“Such a diverse group at Melbourne University,” he enthuses, naming a host of nationalities he hung out with. “I really enjoyed being exposed to that cultural variety.”
He describes it as being a good environment not just for study but to gain some life experience, to develop “soft skills” (i.e. personal qualities, attitudes such as communication, a sense of humour, empathy, problem solving, flexibility). It was, he says, an “unforgettable” study experience.
After graduation, Ritlewski went on to work for business communications company, Caribiner International Pty. Ltd, and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade at World Expo 2000 in Hannover. He joined the Victorian State Government Office in Frankfurt as a Marketing Manager, before returning to Melbourne with online training company, LearningSeat Pty Ltd. Later, he became an Investment Manager for the Victorian Government liaising with German, Japanese and Australian business communities as well as government departments and agencies. And, he found time to be a Foundation Member and Vice Chairman of the Deutsche Schule Melbourne Inc/German International School.
Returning to Germany, Ritlewski was appointed Vice President at TÜV Rheinland AG, a leading provider of technical services worldwide, focusing on Brand Risk Management, covering anti-counterfeiting services to track, trace and authenticate fake products such as pharmaceuticals, golf clubs, dental drills, toys or printer cartridges. In 2012 he moved back to Australia as Sales & Marketing Manager for TÜV Australia and that same year was lured back to work for the Victorian State Government.
When asked to name the highlights of his study time in Australia the list is long: completing his degree, the scholarship to Japan, tutoring third year students in the Economics and Commerce Faculty during his Masters, being asked to conduct lectures for his professor in his absence, a two month work experience stint with the Japan External Trade Organisation, and, in particular, a parliamentary internship which was part of his political science course. “It was amazing,” he says, “a first year student going to (Victoria’s) Parliament House to meet with a Minister and talk every couple of weeks, but you have to go out there and look for opportunities. It doesn’t just come to you.”
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