Course: Master of Internet Technology and Master of International Business
Institution: University of Wollongong (UOW)
Current position: Marketing Manager, IP Payments
Christophe Capel admits that he’s not one to dodge a challenge. “I’ve always liked to be across several skills,” he says, explaining his decision to undertake a Master of International Business at the University of Wollongong (UOW) after completing a Master of Internet Technology while on exchange there. He just knew, he says, it was the place he wanted to be.
“Business and technology is a really powerful combination,” says the French Grande Ecole d'ingénieurs (ESEO) graduate. “I can talk with both sides and ‘translate’ ideas and projects in a particular way.”
Passing from technical to commercial studies, however, wasn't without its stresses. “My first course was finance and at the time I didn't really like numbers – they are a totally different ballgame and I had that ‘oh my God’ feeling at the beginning,” he laughs, adding that his previous experiences at UOW and ESEO taught him to adapt quickly to new situations. “I really, really loved the Master of International Business,” he says. “We had successful professionals with ‘hands-on’ experience, giving us real-life case studies and examples. One of the best subjects I did was Procurement Management; it was just so insightful.”
Living on the state-of-the-art campus in university accommodation meant Capel could spend a lot of time in the library and his diligence paid off handsomely: he gained a distinction average in both Master’s programs. In 2011, five years after graduating, he was awarded the Commerce & Business Alumni Award from UOW for demonstrating leadership, academic success, innovation and creativity, and community spirit. “I was really, really proud,” he says, “it was very special.”
Capel is now Marketing Manager for IP Payments, an award winning Australian payment processing solutions company boasting clients such as L’Oreal, Fox Studios and Fitness First. He came on board as a Business Solutions Manager but has impressed his bosses and quickly moved up the ladder. “I’d always wanted a job with responsibilities, to manage a team,” he says. "I wanted to use my IT and business skills and work with a company with potential for growth and innovation.“ The company, which has offices in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, recently won the “Most Innovative Financial Application” award in Asia, beating off competition from the who’s who of the IT world. Awards seem to seek out Capel; he was instrumental in helping Iris Interactive, a previous employer, win three Australian ICT awards in 2010, including the “Best of the Best” ICT innovation.
He maintains that he wouldn't have landed the jobs he has without the “good toolkit” he took away from the University of Wollongong. “It was an really amazing experience,“ he says, adding that it’s not just about learning from the studies but as much from the changed environment and the exposure to different cultures. On his first morning in Australia, Capel mistook Vegemite, Australia’s favourite, salty breakfast spread, for creamy, sweet French Nutella and slathered it over his toast before almost choking on a big bite. Nowadays he says he actually likes Vegemite – in small doses!
“I created really strong friendships and networks with people now living in Mexico, Japan, France and the US. Working with so many different nationalities and cultures trains you to be an effective communicator and leader.” They are, he says, skills which are more and more pertinent in a globalised world. “It is not uncommon to sit in a meeting with 10 people and have most of the attendees not be Australian. So everyone has a different accent but we all work together and get the job done,” he says.
For anyone considering a course in Australia, Capel has one piece of advice: “Grasp this unique opportunity in your life and make the most of it. Australia is a wonderful gem, with many facets that will bring you a wealth of experience, skills, souvenirs, and lots of future benefits.
“In how many places around the world, do you get the chance to study/work in an innovative and booming economy and still be able to enjoy going to the beach in a half-hour after work/study?“