How One Catastrophist Is Future-Proofing His Career...Upskilling In Digital Media at Macleay

Design Thinking and Digital Media are the way forward, says Paul Cotter, Digital Media student. 

Paul Cotter is not a man who likes to do one thing. If he’s not being challenged and life isn’t giving him joy he will change direction.

After many years in hospitality, working in restaurant management, trying to build culture and maximise efficiency, Paul switched careers. From there he went on to study personal training and for six years worked with people recovering from injury or limitation. Paul still loved helping people but there was still no joy.

Fast forward to Paul at Macleay where he is studying Digital Media and exploring an interest and passion in Design Thinking and its place in our job force today.

I chatted to Paul about what drew him to Macleay and what he hopes to achieve by being here.



Paul Cotter has been a voice-over artist, a restaurant manager, a personal trainer and is now a Digital Media student at Macleay, shaping his future career.


What point/event in your professional life prompted you to return to study?

It sounds a bit whimsical or Marie Kondo, but if I’m not being challenged and life isn’t giving me joy I will change direction. I’m not the kind of person who can just settle for doing one thing.  I don’t want to get to the end of my life and have a long list of things I wish I’d done. I’d been working as a personal trainer for about 6 years (mostly working with people recovering from injuries or dealing with particular limitations) and I realised that, while I loved helping people, it wasn’t giving me joy.  So, I made the change. I have a very curious brain. I always need to be learning new things. As H.G. Wells said: “adapt or perish”.


You mention you were hoping to transfer your skills and adapt them for the digital age, what are you hoping Macleay can do for you?

Open the doors to possibilities.  


What has your experience of Macleay been like so far?

Intense but rewarding.  I juggle full-time work and full-time study and I live alone so if things are going to get done, I’m the one to do them.  I’m a bit stubborn and very determined so I put the work in. When you do that, it’s pretty amazing how far you can go. And when you are in small classes with like-minded, committed people who push each other, it’s a very rewarding experience. 



When you are in small classes with like-minded, committed people who push each other, it's a very rewarding experience.


How do you hope to implement design thinking in the future? Do you hope to shape your own ‘new’ type of job? 

As technology advances, there is the danger of humans becoming less connected.  Connection has been the common thread in all my previous career choices. I started in the theatre when I was 5, so I’ve always wanted to know what motivates people, the subtext, how to influence and change behaviour and how to tell a story that connects us through our similarities, rather than our differences.  Believe it or not, these things are all linked to Design Thinking (but also Marketing, Advertising, Content Creation, UX and Entrepreneurship). Whatever I do, it’s going to involve connecting to the human experience. Luckily, these are the sorts of things we haven’t got AI to do (yet). So those sorts of jobs are relatively safe - for now.


What excites you most about the digital media industry and your future in it?

That the possibilities are endless.  We are limited only by our imagination. That the opportunities exist for everyone regardless of age, sex, religion, orientation or any other defining characteristic. All that, plus the opportunity to finally have a job where I sit down.



Paul writes candid and fascinating content on his blog and portolio, Say Hi To Pablo, inspired by his time at Macleay so far 


What is most fascinating about Paul’s story and many of the shared experiences of Macleay’s students are the interesting personal backgrounds. What I personally find so intriguing about our student body, from the school leaver, to the upskill-er, to the mature age student, are the diverse and chameleonic experiences that have led them to our college. What makes Macleay great is its focus and passion for innovation and change, and who better to fill our rooms than those who have been innovating and changing their whole lives.


To read more about Paul's background and some of his terrific writing look no further than his blog Say Hi To Pablo, a compilation of his musings and body of work.

To read more about Paul's take on career changes and Design Thinking in the modern world have a read of his piece What The Waiter Did Next. 



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