🎤 My Story
Hi, I’m Bron
I research entrepreneurship, enterprise skills development, and career + life design in my role as an academic, and strive to inspire people to use entrepreneurial tools to create meaningful lives and achieve real-world impact.
In 2021 I bought a converted sprinter van and began a journey towards exploring how people can leverage technology and entrepreneurship skills to work from the road.
I’m passionate about sharing what I’ve learnt about remote work and continue to embrace a life of learning. As a business educator, I believe it’s important to maintain up-to-date with the field, and I continue to work as a freelancer and bring those skills to my classroom.
My Career. It’s Been Quite A Journey!
Read an abridged version of how I got to where I am today below.
My Career Journey (A Very Condensed Version)
Flashback to the 90s
The narrative communicated to me as a kid was: finish high school, get into university, complete a degree, get a job and climb the career ladder until you can eventually retire.
Things didn’t turn out like that.
I had no idea what I wanted to do when I left school.
I did know that my strengths aligned with creativity and design, but I’d also studied maths and science (the ‘serious’ subjects), and due to everyone around me entering university programs with titles like ‘Law’, ‘Engineering’, ‘Commerce’, and ‘Medicine’, I thought I better trade my aspirations for becoming a designer and instead choose a sensible trajectory for my upcoming career.
Subsequently, I enrolled in a Commerce degree, which I quickly quit.
I then enrolled in a degree in Product Design Engineering.
That didn’t last long either.
I then transferred to a Mechanical Engineering degree, and within a year felt my creative spirit dying so added an Arts degree to the program so I could do a student exchange program to France. My travels were mostly self-funded through income I’d saved from my part-time job (selling diamond engagement rings to happy couples).
My time overseas was transformative, and I knew that travel was something I wanted to make a part of my life going forward.
21 Years Old & Looking For Direction
When I returned from France I tried to reconnect with my studies, but I longed to return overseas and the thought of sitting in a classroom working my way through thermodynamics equations drove me to hide under my bed covers.
I soon quit my Engineering degree, although forgot to tell the university that little fact, so my results transcript from that time looks like a landslide into failure.
I knew I would never want to work as an Engineer, and spending more years of my life heading down a track that didn’t bring me joy just didn’t make sense.
As such, I never finished an undergraduate degree, but I probably have more undergraduate university subjects on my transcript than most lol.
Throughout this time I was gaining skills through working at a retail diamond store in Melbourne and learning all aspects of that business, including staff training, designing and quoting up diamond jewellery pieces, and sales skills.
Catching The Small Business Bug
With university off the table, and not wanting to spend the rest of my life working for someone else in the retail sector, I needed a new plan.
Completely naive as to what I was getting myself into, I decided to open my own retail store in Melbourne and signed a lease on an overpriced retail premise.
To call it a disaster is a drastic understatement.
The stress at the time was almost unbearable, and there are large periods of time during that part of my life that I can’t remember. I think my mind has blocked them out because they are too painful to recall. There were more than a few nights when I was unable to scrape together two dollars to buy food but was too proud to ask for help.
Back to School!
During my period of retail disaster, I met a woman who was also called Bron (she’s real, I wasn’t talking to myself!).
She told me to enrol in a Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Swinburne University and learn about what I should (actually) be doing in business (rather than what I was doing).
With nothing to lose, I applied and was accepted into the program.
Putting Theory into Practice
The Masters’s program was life-changing.
At the time, the subjects were full of entrepreneurs and business owners (much more experienced than me) and I took every opportunity to learn from them.
I took the learnings from class and implemented them into my business and things started to turn around in a big way.
Through those lessons, I was able to completely redefine the business model. I stopped waiting for customers to come through the door of my store and instead pivoted to a business delivering craft workshops across the country.
I built a website, sent out press releases, managed to get myself on TV, and was running multiple classes a week from multiple locations across the country.
While this sounds great, I wasn’t growing (intellectually) and had a hunger to learn more.
But then something happened. I attended a lecture that changed my life.
The Talk That Changed My Life
One evening in a class in the Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, two Professors from America came to our class and gave a guest talk.
They shared some information that change my life: ‘There are more jobs in academia in entrepreneurship than there are people to fill the roles.’
The reason they gave: people who do PhDs don’t usually run businesses, and people who run businesses don’t usually get PhDs.
In other words, finding people who could teach entrepreneurship from a theoretical perspective, and who also had experience putting that theory into practice, was a challenge. For someone with both skills, opportunities abound.
The guest speakers told the class that a PhD was a ticket to travel the world and that doing a PhD was something we should consider.
Well, hell yes, I’d consider it.
I could do a PhD on stress and burnout, which I was all too familiar with from my own business journey and witnessing others in the field.
Where could I sign up?
The fact that I didn’t have an undergraduate qualification, and hadn’t yet gotten my Master’s degree didn’t stop me from dreaming of this pathway becoming my future.
Determined to earn a passport to the world… I mean, set up a career for myself where I could research and teach, I started making enquiries as to how I could make this happen.
Thanks to a small team of supervisors who believed in me, I managed to get into a Master of Research, which I later converted into a PhD. I graduated with a PhD in entrepreneurship in 2017.
My description of my PhD journey doesn’t do it justice. The reality was tough. I worked as I’d never worked before.
From day one of the PhD program I knew I wanted to secure a full-time (tenured) academic role, and I did everything in my power to do it: research + teaching + committee member + leadership roles + research assistant work + publishing + conferences + anything that would make my resume attractive on the job market.
I never considered giving up because the life I could see for myself after obtaining the qualification was too precious to abandon.
By this point, I had grown my business (previously disastrous, but now profit-generating and largely on autopilot thanks to tweaking the business model). Through a bit of luck and a relationship I’d built over time, I found a buyer for the business and sold it.
In a job market and field where practical experience and a PhD were highly desired (note. things are not so easy in other fields, and today they are no longer as easy as they were in the academic discipline of entrepreneurship) I applied and got my first full-time academic role as a Lecturer at Swinburne University in Melbourne prior to my PhD being confirmed (although it was submitted at the time).
Two years later, seeking better lifestyle conditions, I applied and got a similar role at the University of Tasmania, where I’m working today. Within three years I was promoted to Senior Lecturer.
I’ve specialised in teaching freelancing, small business and entrepreneurship to university students and draw heavily on Lean Startup methodology and the Business Model Canvas (for business and for personal career crafting).
Always an Entrepreneur at Heart
Alongside my academic role, I’ve always practised entrepreneurship.
I set up a business running writing retreats for academics (first in Victoria, Australia, and then in Ubud, Indonesia) – which was shut down due to that event that changed the world.
During the height of the Big C, with nowhere to go and more hours than I knew what to do with, I taught myself website design and content creation and started a business helping academics get their research online.
There have been many roles and skills learnt along the way (see my LinkedIn profile for more detail) and I hope I never stop learning and growing and sharing those things to help others.
6.2m of Adventure
Desperate to travel but not able to leave Australia due to border controls, I started exploring an alternative way to satisfy my need to be on the move and discover new places.
Which is when I found #vanlife.
With the money I’d made from my side hustles designing websites and producing content, I purchased a beautifully converted sprinter van named Molly.
6.2m long and 3.2m high. The first day I drove her I nearly had a full-blown panic attack, but within a few days, we were old friends and being behind the wheel felt like home.
Van life has been game-changing and now I can’t stop telling everyone I meet how amazing it is.
I’ve since turned my love and curiosity about van life into a research program where I can combine my love of travel with my role as a researcher.
I continue to work as a Senior Lecturer delivering entrepreneurial education to my students at The University of Tasmania (note. anything on this blog is my opinion and not necessarily endorsed by my employer), and writing about remote work and the van life movement.
I’m currently putting my knowledge of blogging, SEO, and love of all things Van Life into practice by working (mostly) remote from my converted sprinter van while travelling Australia and recording my adventures on this website.
I also help people design personal business models for rewarding careers, and/or additional income streams.
Who knew that a girl who dropped out of uni could go on to get a PhD, and design the ultimate academic career (from her perspective at least), while also running her own successful online business.
I’d like to think that my 21-year-old self would think things have turned out ok 🙂
🚐 👩💻 🎓
A brief history of the jobs I’ve held throughout my life (life is never a straight line)
- Delivering newspapers (my first job)
- Shelving books at a library (one of my all-time favourite jobs – surrounded by books and listening to music!)
- Cataloguing files for a law firm working from their basement while listening to JJJ on the radio
- Call centre operator (not fun when you’re hungry and everyone is calling to order pizza from you)
- Telemarketer (cold calling – taught me how to handle rejection and not take it personally)
- Selling diamond jewellery (sounds cooler than it is, after a while, they look as precious as like jelly beans)
- Sales Manager (including training staff and store management)
- Designer/Quoter (diamond jewellery)
- Babysitter (always fun!)
- Retail store owner (for someone else)
- Retail store owner (for myself)
- Workshop facilitator
- Fashion accessory wholesaler
- Small business trainer at a TAFE school
- Marketing and Business Development Manager
- Casual University Educator (Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Creativity)
- Research Assistant (Senior Entrepreneurship)
- Freelance Writer
- Freelance Website Designer
- Freelance Copywriter
- Freelance Content Creator
- Freelance Graphic Designer
- Career Coach
- Business Manager
- Research Assistant (Social Impact)
- Unit Coordinator and eLearning Advisor
- Research Associate
- Lecturer (Victoria)
- Founder (Academic Writing Retreats)
- Partner (Engineering Practice Academy)
- Drop Shipping Business
- Lecturer (Tasmania)
- Senior Lecturer (Tasmania)
- + I’m sure there are some things I’ve forgotten 🙂
Life is rarely a simple path from A –> Z. At every step, we pick up skills and grow (at least that’s the plan!)