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Felicity O’Neill (Fr 2008)

When were you at St Andrew’s?
I was at College from 2008 to 2010.

What did you study and at which University?

I studied a Bachelor of Commerce (Liberal Studies) at the University of Sydney, with majors in finance, economics and human geography. I received first class honours for my thesis in human geography – ‘Mobilising Migration in Goulburn: Movement, relationships and community in a mobile world’.

What are your best memories from College?
Without a doubt, some of my best memories from College was taking to the court/pool/river with Andrew’s colours on. The camaraderie of College sport is a uniquely invigorating feeling, which is pretty hard to replicate. Other great memories are the copious VD’s, Formals and Informals but when I look back, some of my warmest memories was the time spent hanging round College– in the ‘hunge’ in Reid, out the front of Main building and even those late night study sessions in the library cramming before exams.

What did you do at College and/or University that you are most proud of?
I think what I am most proud of is the way I threw myself into both College and University life.  I am certainly not a hero at any one pursuit but I did manage to get involved in a broad suite of extracurricular activities from the nerdy and not always witty Commerce Review 08, to an epic geography field trip down the Mekong, to St Andrew’s netball super sub and bench-warmer extraordinaire!

What have you been up to since you left College?
After leaving College, I spent a couple of years hanging around university finishing off my degree and doing an internship at Russell Investments. After five years of study I still had no idea ‘what I wanted to do with my life’. I really fell into the public service by accident after hearing Matt Gilliland (Fr 08) talking about his public sector grad interviews while studying in Azzuri’s on campus. It certainly surprised my family and friends when I informed them I was moving to Canberra to work at the Commonwealth Treasury.

I spent three really enjoyable years working at the Treasury. The work was very diverse and I had the opportunity to work in banking, agriculture, and regional and tax policy. I spent the last year working as a Policy Adviser to the Secretary to the Treasury, John Fraser. Life in the public service also leaves time for extracurricular pursuits which allowed me to spent some spare time with Kai Scott (Fr 07) steering the United Nations Association of Australia Young Professionals ACT branch.

What are you doing now? What projects are you involved in?
I am currently on a two-year Secondment to the UK Treasury – Her Majesty’s Treasury – in London, working as a Policy Adviser. At the moment I am working in the team providing economic analysis for the Government in respect of the EU Referendum. It is pretty exciting and engaging to see your work splashed out in the headlines each morning.

Strangely, I am not the only Andrew’s woman reverse-colonising the Treasury. Anna Cartwright (Fr 05) has already been here for a year as an Adviser in Financial Services. And she is currently in the process of setting up an ANZAC’s in Government group, which will kick off in June.

Would you say St Andrew’s helped build your life experiences and business career?
What St Andrew’s gave me is the soft skills required to succeed– strong interpersonal skills, a willingness to give anything a red-hot go, and the importance of teamwork.

I am sure though, that as my career matures, the networks Drew’s gives us will help too! When I look around at the pursuits of my 2008 Fresher cohort I am constantly astounded and humbled by their impressive achievements. Emma Colenbrander is living in India expanding the social business Pollinate Energy, Adam Diprose is establishing the South African outfit of Elevate Education, Michelle Carr and Andrew Tulloch are living in San Francisco where Michelle is tearing apart the patriarchal construction industry and Tulloch is bossing it at Facebook. And that is just scratching the surface of our collective achievements.

If you had advice to give your 18 year old self, what would it be?
Looking back, I think it would be to have the confidence to know that I could do anything I put my mind to. I do think there is a lot of unconscious bias that young women leaving school struggle with and you can’t wait for people to affirm your talents. For me, one of the great things about St Andrew’s College was to look around and think, ‘if they can do it, why can’t I?’; the earlier young women get that message the better.