Ben McCully joins the EduCo Executive Committee as Senior Vice President for the Southern Cross University Partnership, which operates three campuses – Southern Cross University Sydney, Southern Cross University Melbourne and Southern Cross University Perth – in the three key Australian cities.
Prior to joining EduCo, Mr McCully occupied various roles in the international education sector and gained industry experience over the years. He started his career with international education provider C Management Services Pty Ltd (CMS), a joint venture entity co-owned by Central Queensland University as State Sales Manager. His subsequent promotion to Director of Marketing Services and International Coordination gave him the opportunity to handle the institution’s sales and marketing operations across Australia, North America, the sub-Continent, China and Southeast Asia.
He then moved to the International Design School Pty Ltd, with campuses in Sydney and Melbourne as its General Manager. He served in the same capacity when he joined CPA Australia Ltd with a global remit focusing particularly on China and Southeast Asia before he became College Director and Principal of Western Sydney University International College.
A principled, true-blue regular Aussie bloke
Ben, as he is more commonly addressed, describes himself primarily as a family man who adores his wife of 18 years and his two gorgeous daughters. Ben says that he enjoys a laugh but is very focused and goal-driven. “I can’t sit still (much to the chagrin of my girls) and always have to be doing something,” he fondly relates with a smile.
He has been based in Sydney since 1998 but was born and raised in countryside New South Wales. He grew up on a 100,000-acre farm in Hay, a country town in southwestern NSW where his family has resided for five generations. He relocated permanently to cosmopolitan, fast-paced Sydney when he married his childhood sweetheart and started a family.
“I am focused on my exercise and staying fit. My teenage daughters keep me well and truly grounded. My wife and I went to primary school together and nothing gets past her if things are a bit tough for me.”
When asked about his interests, Ben says he loves rugby. He played first grade in Sydney which eventually “opened many doors for me.” Presently, he has become an avid cyclist, riding from 150 to 200 kilometres a week.
Ben has also developed a passion for surfing. “My daughter Skye and I learned together. Rushing down a face is quite a rush whilst sitting ‘out the back’ with Skye at daybreak never ceases to be special,” he relates.
When asked about insights that he learned as a university student and as a professional, his immediate response was:
Patience is important. You are far more likely to be thorough when you’re patient.
Think holistically. Consider the big picture.
Be accountable. Be compassionate. Stay focused.
Starting the day right
As a busy executive, Ben has to juggle between his various responsibilities alongside meetings with Southern Cross University staff, faculty and students. He generally starts quite early with a bike ride. Keeping abreast with the news and what’s going on around him, particularly on industry events and government policy changes affecting the education sector is important to him.
“I do operate more efficiently with an action list for the day and at least once a week I will make sure these actions are aligned with my longer term goals. Inevitably, the unforeseen has its say and things change,” he points out matter-of-factly.
Having said that, he adds that having many balls in the air at any given time always provides a constant challenge. But he’s quick to add that it comes with its accompanying joys because he really enjoys variety and he’s one that never backs down from a challenge.
On being focused and goal-driven
“I take great reward in seeing team members meet challenges and overcome them.” He adds, “I’d like to think that over my career, I have built enduring professional relationships across several sectors.”
Ben’s educational background consists of a business degree with electives in Accountancy. He furthered his education by completing a Master of Business Administration degree on advice of a mentor. At some point in the future though, he would still like to pursue an Accounting designation.
His foray into the international education industry began in the early 2000s. Ben’s career flourished shortly afterwards. He worked in the finance sector where he had a public university as a client. “They must have thought I was providing a reasonable service as they offered me the opportunity to join them to head up their international recruitment efforts,” he recalls. From there, he worked through most facets of education until his latest appointment as a Senior Vice President at EduCo.
Advice to international students
He dishes out this advice to international students when asked to share his views and the lessons he learned as he built his career up the ladder:
Listen to your lecturers.
Form friendships with other students – they will last a lifetime.
Go to your lectures and tutes (tutorials).
Set and commit to your own ‘non-negotiables’.
Compel yourself to do the things that others won’t.
Be patient and stay focused.
Own this opportunity to shape and mould your future.
Ben hits the ground running after taking on his new role as SVP for the Southern Cross University campuses in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth and says he will outline his short-term and long-term plans soon. “For now it’s about embracing the challenges of this role and meeting our objectives over the next three years. In time, should I succeed in this role, I would enjoy the opportunity of greater challenges but this is not on my radar currently,” he concludes.