Alison Eastaway

Graduated: 2006

Current Role: Director of Human Resources

I'm a Director of Human Resources at a cloud monitoring-as-a-service company which acquired the cybersecurity startup where I was the Vice President of People until April 2021. I live in Paris, France.

Did you always aspire to be in the job position you currently hold?

Yes and absolutely not :) I've always been fascinated by what goes on behind the scenes. When the circus performer takes off their stage makeup, when the TV presenter turns off their mic, when CEOs come home at the end of a long day. People often say to me: you're a VP of People, you must LOVE people, and I say, it's more that people fascinate me.

What have you done since leaving CTHS?

I skipped university in favor of getting out in the real world as quickly as possible. While this choice is a lot more accepted in Australia than my adoptive France, it was still a shock to many of my teachers etc as I'd performed well academically. But I strongly believe there are many many paths to success and the most important thing is to find the one that works best for you. That's the perspective I bring to my role as a HR manager and recruiter, and the change I'm trying to bring to the industry as a whole.

I travelled around working for Club Med right out of high school, living in the Whitsundays then the Bahamas. I lived in Melbourne for a few years, then I moved to Paris to write books for a year, and ended up staying for a decade and building a career. I've been lucky!

Describe your average work day....

The past 6 years I've been working in fast growing tech startups. There is no average day, you might be interviewing executives all morning, jumping into an engineering all hands meeting, solving a labor law issue for your employee in Egypt and on a plane to the San Francisco office the next day. Startups are intense and also extremely rewarding - in the early days their #1 asset is people, which means the responsibility for succeeding or failing is squarely on your shoulders. In that context, HR isn't a support function, it's strategic, and if done well, a competitive advantage.

Please share some words of wisdom for today's students…

Try out a lot of things and don't be too concerned with "job hopping" or a non-linear CV. The world is changing and there will be much more self-directed career paths in the future. Try to surround yourself with great people who inspire you - if you don't know anyone like this, hop on linkedin or twitter and reach out to people, the worst they can say is no. Working with great people is game-changing.

Any shoutouts to a special teacher or subject you think really helped?

In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have quit French class in year 10 :) I think in general I was lucky to have teachers who treated us like adults, and were as invested if not more in our success as we were.

What was the greatest lessons you learnt at CTHS that you have carried with you into your career?

Be kinder than strictly necessary. High school can be a trying time for teenagers. I did well in school but I wasn't always very popular. That can feel isolating, and when you're 16 years old you don't have the perspective to know that everyone is just finding their way through the world too.

What piece advice do you have for students today given your experience in the working world?

I think in an international context, Aussies have this special knack of selling ourselves without seeming pretentious - we're hard working, we like to show rather than tell. That's a real asset. We're also less concerned with unnecessary hierarchy which lets us build relationships quickly, and we're also a little bolder and cheekier which I find serves us well particularly in the tech / startup world.