“Getting serious about professional development” - How participating in Paddl Games helped develop Harry Pittock's personal brand

April 12, 2019
By Kim Fernandes

In the midst of his uni degree, experienced Paddl User Harry Pittock has kept himself busy with various Paddl Games experiences. By developing his personal brand and experience profile with these extra-curriculars, Harry managed to land an incredible internship over the summer in his field of choice. We caught up with Harry to understand his experiences with Paddl and why getting serious about professional development is so important!

So Harry, tell us a bit about yourself.

Currently, I’m a full-time student completing a Master of Electrical Engineering at Melbourne Uni. Previously, I completed a Science degree, majoring in Neuroscience. I have always been interested in health and wellness, which inspired my undergraduate major, and have recently developed a passion for electronics. I love seeing theory learnt at uni come to life through small projects I work on at home. One day I hope to marry my interests in health and electronics by working on technology that improves people’s health and wellbeing.

Getting-serious-about-professional-development-Harry-Pittock-personal-brand.jpg

We first met you at the AGL COSBOA Innovation Games (Victoria) 2018. How would you describe your first Paddl experience? What happened on the day?

Going in, I had no idea what to expect! I had some familiarity with the design thinking process but had never participated in something like the Innovation Games. I was nervous, and hearing that we would have to pitch our idea to a large room made the introvert in me stress! However, as soon as the games were underway, the adrenaline masked the nerves as the team got busy problem framing and ideating for our business. We were working with a real estate company to solve their energy efficiency problems. With help from the talented AGL employees, our team walked away with third place and a fancy new keep cup. After the event, I was completely buzzed and couldn’t wait to sign up for another Paddl Games event!

How did you find the concept of Paddl Games as a whole? What were your takeaways?

As a student, the Paddl Games are a truly valuable experience unlike anything offered at university. Sitting down with big business employees, small business owners, and talented students, to solve open-ended problems, is a special opportunity to learn from talented professionals and develop professional skills. The Games are an amazing opportunity to exercise your creativity and develop your collaborative problem-solving skills – both things employers are hungry for. As a future engineer, it isn’t your ability to solve triple integrals that employers are interested in, it’s the skills you develop at events like Paddl Games that really turn heads.

It would be remiss of me not to use this opportunity to thank the wonderful team at Paddl Co. The success of the Games lies in the hard work and passion that the Paddl team puts into each event. The future of tertiary education does not look like the packed lecture halls of universities today, but rather, innovative companies like Paddl Co. who give students relevant professional experience and do so with students best interests at heart.

We then saw you at the Canon COSBOA Innovation Games and Bunnings Paddl Games. How did your experiences at those challenges differ?

Having one Paddl Games under my belt gave me a better idea of what to expect and prepare for. A recommendation to all future Challengers is to put in some effort before the event - research your business; identify some problems or opportunities that might exist in their industry; or brainstorm some possible solutions. Doing this allows you to hit the ground running on the day, giving you an advantage and ultimately preparing you to create something of true value for your business!

Getting-serious-about-professional-development-Harry-Pittock-personal-brand-Design-Thinking.jpg

At the Bunnings Paddl Games, I was fortunate to be asked along as a Paddl Alumni. This was a paid opportunity to facilitate my team using the tips and tricks I’d acquired from previous Paddl events. On the day, however, my prior experience was eclipsed by the brilliance of the team I had been placed in - I witnessed truly effective design thinking play out! The day was a valuable insight into effective teamwork, where each member of the team drew on one another's strengths throughout the problem-solving process. This demonstration of effective collaboration not only landed the team a runners-up prize on the day but also professional connections to a group of talented, like-minded peers.

What impact did completing a ‘Paddl Games trifecta’ have on your job search?

After each Paddl Games, my confidence grew a little more. Before the games, I was concerned that I didn’t have the right experience to secure an internship. Completing a trifecta, however, gave me the confidence needed to take that first step into the job market. The Games also helped me develop my communication, team-work, and public speaking skills, that I was able to sell during interviews. Having extra-curricular activities like the Paddl Games on your CV shows potential employers that you are serious about professional development.

We hear a congratulations is in order - you’ve landed an awesome internship! Can you tell us a bit about how you landed it and what you do there? What’s a typical day like?

Thank you! I was lucky enough to land a gig with a renewable energy start-up company who are currently building a biodiesel plant. The role was advertised on the university careers site and I had to jump through all the usual hoops to get a spot. My role is to aid in the electrical design of the plant. This has involved producing design drawings for the plants power and automation systems. The experience has been a valuable insight into the world of professional engineering - there’s so much more to it than a university degree lets on!

Getting-serious-about-professional-development-Harry-Pittock-personal-brand-Bunnings-Paddl-Games.jpg

Having successfully found an awesome opportunity after participating in Paddl Games, what advice would you give to someone on the job hunt? Are there any key takeaways you’d like to share?

Find out what your weaknesses are and do what you can to improve them, even if it makes you uncomfortable. For me, my communication skills have always been shaky, especially when presenting to a large crowd. The Paddl Games were the perfect place to work on these areas, allowing me to practise communicating in a team context and presenting to a room full of people. A tip I was once given was to ‘get comfortable being uncomfortable’. It’s often those experiences you shy away from that offer the most to your personal and professional development. You’ve got to start somewhere, so put yourself out there, even if you think you aren’t ready - the Paddl Games are a great place to start!

Now it’s your turn!

If you’re looking to build your personal brand and expand your professional network through Paddl Games like Harry, create your Paddl Profile here, then add Activity Cards to showcase your experience, and you’ll be ready to go! Applications for Day 5 of the COSBOA Innovation Games are now open, so get in your application in today!

You can also join our ‘Student & Graduate Opportunities’ Facebook Group, where a community of like-minded Challengers come together to keep up to date on awesome opportunities, organisations and job sectors, and to support each other as they kick off their career journeys!