Did you make it? What got you there? 0



View Profile
What was the secret ingredient that made you successful?

The Vice President of Ogilvy, one of the largest ad-companies in the world said this week he would rather hire graduates with lower grades than those who had firsts at university.  A dramatic contrast to how we are all taught to think – that those with the highest grades are the most appealing.  So I ask you to reflect on your career today.  Did you make it because you got high grades or because of your hard work and street smarts?  


What was the secret ingredient that made you successful?

“The logic is inarguable: the best people to hire are those undervalued by the market,”  said Rory Sutherland in his article for The Spectator.


His prime example drew from the theory presented in the book and movie Moneyball. the story of the baseball manager Billy Beane.   The story gave evidence that showed that the metrics historically used to determine the value of a baseball player did not best correspond to his value on the field.  In the movie, Beane made a series of hires which turned the cash-strapped Oakland Athletics into a surprise success.

“So, in the absence of any evidence that degree-class is a predictor of value, why don’t businesses follow Moneyball and hire more inventively?”


In fact, Sutherland mourned the incredible lack of hippies, potheads and commies exploring themselves and enjoying their youth.  


If we look at names we know, who have risen from a wide variety of backgrounds we find both Bill Gates, Clive Palmer and Steve Jobs all ditched their university degrees to chase entrepreneurialism early in life.

While former chief of BHP Billiton, Marius Kloppers has a bachelor of engineering, an MBA and a PhD in materials science.


This discussion raises the conversation for over sixties of “How did you make it?”  Did you succeed because you had a private school education, a university degree, by working your way from the bottom to the top, or because you “had a go and worked really hard”?  And what advice do you have for those coming through University and into the workforce today.

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. My hubby , my 2yr old daughter and I came into this wonderful country with 24 dollars, of which I spent $8 on fake gold bangles on route to Oz. We were luck enough to have my sister to stay with until we were able to rent a unit in East Bentleigh. My hubby got a job the very next week AT PBR- East Bentleigh and rose to a quality manager over the years. He is retired now and I ,after teaching for the past 33 years am semi-retired and tutor for RMH WEEKLY( PRICELESS )HARD WORK, HONESTY AND A WILLINGNESS TO MAKE A HOME IN A NEW COUNTRY LIKE AUSTRALIA HAS GOT US OUR OWN HOME (A WONDERFUL DAUGHTER AND SON WHO ARE EXPERTS IN THEIR OWN RIGHT)ALONG WITH THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GRANDSON AND SON-IN-LAW AND DAUGHTER-IN-LAW TO BE!!!mY ADVICE TO THE YOUNGER GENERATION, Grab all opportunities in both hands and live by the values your parents have instilled in you , but above all look after your family and friends 24/4 and help someone/anyone in need!

  2. To “make” it, you don’t have to finish up the richest man in the street, nor do you have to be the boss of Microsoft. In fact wealth has nothing to do with making it. I consider myself to have made it by marrying a wonderful girl all those years ago. I’ve made it by fathering three great kids, all of them healthy and successful in life. I’ve made it by having a close group of friends, all of whom I can trust implicitly. I’ve made it by still at 78, having a brain that is fully functional, so that I can write like this, (well or otherwise!). And I’ve made it because I can paint and draw for my own great self satisfaction. Jacqui and I may not be rich financialy, but we are truly wealthy – in mutual love and reasonable health!

  3. From the age of four, my dream was to be a Kindergarten Teacher. Back in the 60’s Melbourne Kindergarten College was a fee paying, Private Teacher’s College. Our parents were struggling to make a living on a farm in South Gippsland, but they worked hard for me to achieve my dream. Our mum, as a girl, attended Mentone Girl’s Grammar–this played a big role in my acceptance at College. She and the Admissions Officer were Óld School Girls. I was an average student at school and am totally convinced that I would never have been offered a place based on my results. Dad suggested, during my first year at college, that I apply for a Commonwealth Scholarship to teach in The Northern Territory. I did this and had an interview during a time that I was having a Practice Teaching Round. I was an incredibly enthusiastic student and absolutely loved my placement. I am totally convinced that it was my positive enthusiasm which gained me the Scholarship, not my results as I failed maths the first time. Sadly, our parents had a dreadful car accident around the time that I received the scholarship, our mum was hospitalised for many months. College would have finished for me without the Scholarship. My husband and I met in The Northern Territory-so another positive outcome. We have three wonderful sons who all have amazing partners, we have one grandson and another on the way. We currently live in the ACT. When we moved to the ACT I didn’t know that teachers need to be 4 year trained to be made permanent. At 48 and feeling very concerned about my cognitive abilities, but it seems experience does account for something. I majored in Special Education and was placed in a Special School by the Department of Education. What an amazing experience, as a result of that, I went to London to teach in a Special School over there when my husband retired. We toured Europe and England during the school holidays but for the remainder of the time we were embraced by staff and our neighbours. I continued to work in a Special School till I retired at 60. Boy that was a BIG mistake and only lasted for one term. I am now back working in Early Childhood at a Special School. Absolute Bliss. I guess my reason for responding to your article is to let people know that it is not necessarily intellect but enthusiasm, a will to learn and succeed in your chosen field, positive work ethics and dedication.

  4. This comment was sent in by Brenda
    I agree that people without a university degree make better employees. I was not great at school ,hated it in fact,and I went on to work at 15 and loved my job to go on to open 6Underwear shops after I had my family and my two boys were at least 6 and8 .i opened 6shops ,Underwear and Dress shops worked like a trougan ,long days buying in Brisbane,racing from one place to another in the heat ,how I remember it ( but lovingly ) .i suppose I was lucky to have at least 1 good staff member,but it was hard work getting the “right” staff in 5 different places.
    I loved my work and had my first shop for 27 years , it is still going another 11 years later, I sold as my Husband moved his business to Cairns and I could not keep flying back to make it all work.
    I loved the Public,and being properly trained as a Fitter ( 2 weeks ) many years ago ,not like now ,one day and girls think they are Fitters.Not so my customers so appreciated me even here in Cairns where I worked at Myer and gave up work just over a year ago.
    I did all the bookwork and wages and tax etc and I learnt the hard way,the best way,all by sheer hard work and love of what I did.( no I was married to an accountant then ) ha ha.

    So through those years I saw a lot of people apply for work ,and I particularly noticed where I worked as a casual waiting for my shop to open the school teachers that were employed for Christmas Casuals could not even add up in their head or multiply without a calculater ,I remember being amused by this as I was the one that did not have the “great ” education

    I now work for my Husband who is an Accountant and he has his own practice ,so I do believe it is all what you expect of yourself and the ” passion ” one has for what they choose to do in their working life. Not a Degree,just loving what you choose to do..

    P.S. I am still mixing with the public in my Husbands office..

  5. I never achieved high marks and only just scraped by in everything, including my teaching degree. Because I had trouble understanding things I understood the difficulties children had and explored different ways of looking at problems. Many times I had kids say to me that they had finally understood something after we have worked on it together. The Department of Education thinks it is going to get better teachers by raising the bar and only accepting teachers with the highest academic scores. The best teachers are not necessarily those to whom all things come easily. Many potentially brilliant teachers will not get the chance to teach and schools will be the poorer for it.

  6. I fully agree with all of the above comments especially with the word PASSION.you need passion and hard work for whatever you do in life .I arrived in this country 47 years ago without a degree not even completing high school as I was married at the ripe age of 16,I flew in with 5 children aged 7 to 14 and my ex husband +my handicapped Mother ,just enough money to rent a house and buy a second hand car. I started work 3 weeks after as a factory worker which lasted 3 weeks and retired as Director of Administrative Services in a large Public hospital .I was the only woman to hold a position like this without a university degree. My 5 children learned the values of hard work and have done well in their chosen career,5 of my seven grandchildren have completed their university degrees and I am now happily retired and still very involved in community work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *