La Trobe University Living History: Andrew Abercrombie

La Trobe University Living History: Andrew Abercrombie


♪ (Music Playing) ♪ My economics degree was my stepping stone to law, and law was my stepping stone to commerce and ultimately an MBA. So all these things gave me the opportunity to create a business and grow it into a big business. I’m Andrew Abercrombie. I graduated La Trobe in 1976. La Trobe was quite alternate back in 1974. I was very comfortable here, and I liked the multifarious attitudes, individuals, passions. It was a pretty cool place. There was the Agora, this building, and a few scattered around the periphery of the Agora, and that was it. I used to be able to ride my motorcycle to within about 50 metres of the Agora where there was a bike park. That’s how sparse it was. There were frequently large groups of young men and women wandering around the place with megaphones, prevailing upon us all to see the things the way they saw them. At the time I couldn’t give a toss. I was too busy doing other stuff in my life. I was always an entrepreneur. I always had several jobs when I was studying, because back in those days economics was probably only about 12 or so contact hours. So there was lots of other things to do in life, and they were the ones that interested me. If anything I was a bit of the odd man out, because a lot of my colleagues really were fairly carefree and more interested in where the next joint was coming from than where the next job was coming from. I certainly think it’s terrific if younger people can have an aspiration let’s call it, you know, a vague idea of how they’d like their life to look in five or ten years’ time. I think that’s important. You really have to open your mind to opportunities. Be prepared to change very quickly, be adaptable. How you’re going to get there is different for everybody. Sometimes you’re not going to realise that you’ve opened the right door until you’ve opened it. If you accept that University education is a critically important foundation of a great society, which I do, then access is incredibly important. Diversity is also the essence of a great society, and in a perfect world a great society and great Universities give the right people the right opportunity to end up in the right place in life. Philanthropy should help young people who may not otherwise have the opportunity to come to a University to get to a place like this. One of the reasons I’m here is that I really admire what John Dewar has been doing, and I’d like to support him because I think La Trobe offers an opportunity for young Victorians to get a fabulous education. La Trobe has all the characteristics to be one of the finest Universities in the world.

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