Jane Hamilton is the new Dean & Head of the La Trobe Business School. Business Newsroom sat down with her to ask her some questions about her long-standing relationship with LBS, her new role, taking on challenges, how she relaxes, and more.
Where do you come from and what brings you to La Trobe University?
I was a student at La Trobe University, at the Bendigo campus. Back then it was still the Bendigo College of Advanced Education, which became part of La Trobe in the 1990s. After finishing my degree I joined the staff as a tutor, and gradually worked my way up. I have been associated with La Trobe for about 30 years. I took an opportunity to work at the University of Technology in Sydney from 2000 to 2005 because I wanted more experience and exposure with my research. But after that, I came back to La Trobe because it is a great place to work.
How will you be approaching your new role as Head of School?
Being part of the LBS for nearly 30 years means that I’m very familiar with what we do. However, this is a new role for me so it gives me the opportunity to help LBS find a new direction for the future, and we’re working on a strategy to help us do that. We want to keep everything that’s good about LBS and build upon that. This means providing education that meets students’ expectations for the new world of work, help students get interesting jobs and prepare them for anything that might come to them in the future. I want all LBS students to have a fantastic experience with us.
In terms of research, LBS has great strengths in several areas. We have a number of research centres, and we would like to see them flourish. In particular, the two largest ones, the Centre for Sport and Social Impact and the Research Centre for Data Analytics & Cognition, are well connected with outside parties. We also have many academics that are experts in their fields and very highly rated internationally. Several of our research disciplines are rated above world standard and I would like to support them to keep continuing their good work.
Several of our staff come in as early career researchers. I would like to help them develop their skills in research so that they too can have a career in research. I would like them to have a satisfying career, feel connected within the school, have the possibility to engage with business and the community around them and allow them to produce research that is meaningful in a variety of ways. Their work might impact the way people do business, it might impact on the academic research field, or impact on people’s personal lives. There is a wide range of research happening within LBS and we need to support that to make our research output even stronger.
What do you know now that you wished you knew when you were a student at university?
I just loved being a student. Up until then, it was the most interesting thing that I had done, it was a joy to challenge myself and learn new things.
I wish I would have had a little bit more self-belief. When I started doing research I was so nervous about standing up in front of people and presenting my ideas. I didn’t know whether I had done a good job or not. Looking back, I did a good job and I just wish I had more confidence and more belief in myself.
Have you always been ambitious?
Yes and no. It’s not so much about ambition. I never thought I would be in a particular position, I wasn’t ambitious in that sense, but I do enjoy taking on new things and I think all ambitious people do. I think ambitious people enjoy the process of learning. Taking on a new position like this is where I get that joy of learning. When you’re a student all is new, and then when you’re in a job for too long it can get a bit stale, so you need to give yourself a new challenge and that’s what I like to do. You take on a challenge, you master that, and take on another challenge and you master that, and that constant stretching helps you develop.
I didn’t know that I was going to end up in this position, going from an LBS student to becoming the Dean & Head of School for LBS. It was quite a journey and I probably didn’t know what I was going to do, but every step of the way I challenged myself and took on that stretch, and it was very rewarding. I learnt this process over the years so probably if I knew this back then I would have taken more steps earlier, but that’s life.
What do you do to get rid of stress?
Lately I have been going for runs and I have been really enjoying it. If I don’t feel like running, I’ll go for a walk. I enjoy getting up early and going out. It helps me to get into work fresh and feel prepared for a long day ahead.
During my weekends I like to go outside and work on our bush block, walk around in nature, something like that. I don’t do very ambitious things, I like to do something that is out of work and outside. Just get basic, not having to talk to people or think about things too much. It gives me that contrast with my job.
I like to take at least one day during my weekend where I turn everything off so that I can just have that break. I work quite long days during the week, and sometimes you need to do some work on the weekend to get ready on Monday, but I do try and work really hard during the week so that I can have a bit of space on the weekend. Taking a break is important.
Last question, if people come across you at the coffee-machine, what’s a good conversation starter?
“Can I get you a coffee?” and I will always say yes! A simple “how are you today?” is also fine, ask me what I think of the cricket, or the footy. That will get me engaged in a conversation.
Professor Jane Hamilton was appointed as Dean and Head of La Trobe Business School in April 2018 and brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this important leadership position. Jane is a Professor of Accounting and holds a PhD from Monash University and a Masters of Accountancy from the University of New England, having completed her undergraduate studies in Bendigo. She brings a unique perspective to the role of Head of School, having worked at La Trobe’s Bendigo campus since 1989. Jane was Associate Head of the Business School from 2015 to 2018 and had responsibility for regional campus operations, international partnerships, and third-party teaching. As well as her experience in senior management positions, Jane has a distinguished record of teaching, research and partnership engagement at both La Trobe University and the University of Technology, Sydney.