From a career as a glass artist, to running a tech company, to leading Prospect as Mayor – Matthew Larwood’s post-Blackfriars life is a lesson in going with the flow.
Mr Larwood (BPS’89), the current Mayor of Prospect, has delivered the Occasional Address at this year’s Year 12 Academic Assembly.
“38 years ago, when I was sitting where you are tonight, I never pictured myself standing here speaking to the current Year 12 cohort as the Mayor of the City of Prospect and as a CEO of a tech company,” Mr Larwood said.
“I remember Year 12 very well and can honestly say that, on the whole, I enjoyed my time at Blackfriars. I started Year 12 with a vague idea of going on to study accounting or economics at uni, however, as the year progressed, that career path no longer filled me with excitement or motivation.
“Instead, I became much more interested in what I was learning in art. This was in part due to my arts teacher, Ian Abbott, who instilled in all of us a passion and enthusiasm for the creative industries.”
Mr Larwood went on to study a Bachelor of Design, majoring in ceramics, but after a couple of years, switched to glassblowing. He spent 16 years as a glass artist, culminating in a stint as the Jam Factory’s Glass Studio General Manager.
While at the Jam Factory, he decided to study an MBA.
“This took me several years, as I was working full-time, and also had a young family,” he said.
“However, it was well worth doing, as having an MBA under my belt definitely gave me more career opportunities.
“The first opportunity to come along was to move into construction as a GM – and I leapt at it. As it turns out, this was also not meant to be my forever job, as I was made redundant after four years. At the time, this seemed like the end of the world. However, I called upon those life skills I developed at school, and I was fortunate to land my current job (as CEO at Axios IT) 13 years ago.”
The importance of life skills
Those life skills included resilience, building relationships and being part of a community.
“I think one of the most valuable skills I learnt in my school years was the ability to form and maintain relationships. Some of my best mates to this day are friends I made at school,” said Mr Larwood, who was elected Mayor in late 2022, taking over from fellow Blackfriars old scholar David O’Loughlin (BPS’82).
“This didn’t come easy to me, as I was an introvert and could have just as easily kept to myself. But I intuitively knew that this life skill would be as important as any technical/academic skills I had learnt in Year 12 or would learn at university.
“This skill has kept me in good stead throughout my working life – whether it is forming relationships with new work colleagues, networking or working with customers. It’s also come in very handy in my role as Mayor.”
Mr Larwood called on the Class of 2023 to embrace those life skills – now and into the future.
“Whether you’re heading to uni or TAFE, whether you’ve got a job lined up or plan to start a trade, the academic and life skills you have learnt during your years at Blackfriars will help shape your careers and yourself as a person,” he said.
“It’s important to remember that these are called life skills – and I want to emphasise the word skill. Just like playing sport, or learning a trade, these are skills which you have to practise and work on if they’re to be successful. Some may come more naturally than others, but remember to put in the hard work and you’ll get the results you’re after.
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