Exploring the Future of Work & Entrepreneurship: Building a Creative Portfolio

Exploring the Future of Work & Entrepreneurship: Building a Creative Portfolio
Higher Education careers

Forget the linear career path! In our ever-changing world, a fulfilling career is more about adaptability and embracing your unique skills. This is especially true in the creative industries, where opportunities abound for those willing to forge their own path.

Recently in A Conversation With… Roo Pigott, music entrepreneur, producer, songwriter, and inventor, alongside parent, Tan Kuan Eng and student, Tiffany Ang, the concept of portfolio careers was further explored; the power of embracing diverse experiences and harnessing your creativity to build a successful and fulfilling career.

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The Rise of the Portfolio Career

Gone are the days of a single job for life. Today, individuals are increasingly building "portfolio careers," where they cultivate a range of skills and experiences to generate income from multiple sources. This approach offers flexibility, fosters creativity, and allows you to tailor your work to your passions. Expertly guided by Alison Cantrill from the Higher Education and Careers department: 

“From my perspective, as a career counsellor, this increasingly comes into conversations about how our next steps are just that… only the next step! The old adage of a “job for life” is less relevant than ever before. Switching careers, pursuing new interests and moving between industries is an intentional career journey for many people today. This means that the advice and guidance we provide needs to reflect this shift from a traditional career throughout the lifespan, to more of a life-stage approach for understanding our own career development. As our values and priorities change, so too does our career, which is an integral part of our lives. Non-linear careers are not new, but they are more commonplace and better understood today; in a dynamic world of work whereby how we do work, when we do work and what that work is changes in response to 21st century progress.

In our careers department, we regularly talk to students about the currency of their education in relation to their skills - how that first degree may have nothing to do with what you end up doing in a future career! It is all about the person. Being flexible and open to new learning which is key for personal growth. This seems to be at the heart of creative industries and is an essential mindset for embracing the non-linear nature of careers today.”


Roo Pigott: A Master of the Portfolio Career

Roo Pigott's career is a testament to the power of the portfolio career. From renting a studio to leading the way in new business models for the music industry, he has navigated diverse roles and even overcome significant personal challenges.

Roo's invention of a revolutionary barcode format stemmed from an unplanned event, highlighting the importance of being open to new possibilities and taking advantage of ‘planned happenstance’. Roo's personal battle with injury and ill health demonstrates that failures and setbacks are inevitable, but they can also be valuable learning experiences that propel you forward. The creative industries reward a broad range of skills and Roo's success is built on his musical expertise, business acumen, and technological know-how. He is testament to and an avid advocate for the premise that the world of work is constantly evolving, so a commitment to continuous learning is essential.

The Power of Combining Passions: Tan Kuan Eng's Story

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The conversation also featured Tan Kuan Eng, an Alice Smith parent and founder of Malayan Guitars. Kuan Eng's story is another testament to the power of following your passions and the potential for innovation found in unexpected places. Having studied to be a doctor, Tan leveraged his knowledge of ultrasound technology to create unique handmade guitars - possibly the first in the world to do so.

His guitars are not only beautiful instruments but also technological marvels. The core is carved from a single block of specially hand-picked Malayan Ironwood, one of the hardest woods globally, resulting in a powerful and distinct tonal quality. They feature custom electronics, developed by Tan himself, that generate a wide range of sounds,  perfect for everything from classic jazz to modern rock. These next-generation electronics are in high demand by musicians and are becoming a sought-after feature on concert stages and in recording studios. Guitar designs inspired by Asian wood-carving traditions and Malaysian Batik, offer unparalleled playability and comfort due to its unique head and neck construction. Every single guitar is meticulously hand-built by Tan, demonstrating his dedication to his craft.

Tan's story exemplifies how a diverse skillset and the willingness to experiment can lead to exciting and successful career paths, even if they take unexpected turns.

A Student's Perspective: Tiffany Ang


The event also featured a younger voice - Tiffany Ang, a Year 10 Alice Smith student and band member of SVARGA. Tiffany's story highlights the valuable skills that can be developed through creative pursuits, even at a young age. She and her bandmates didn't just perform at school events - they took the initiative to write original songs for the recent school drama production, "Gargantua."  This experience demonstrates the power of creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving - all essential skills that translate well across various career paths.

The Future of Work: Owning Your Career Path

As automation and the "gig economy" reshape the job market, the ability to adapt and build a portfolio career will be increasingly valuable. By following both Roo's and Tan’s example and embracing a growth mindset, young people can navigate the exciting, non-linear world of work and build fulfilling creative careers.

The traditional career path is forever diverse. The future of work is about embracing your creativity, cultivating a transferable skillset, and building a portfolio career that reflects your passions. These career stories serve as an inspiration, demonstrating that with flexibility, resilience, and a lifelong love of learning, you can chart your own course and thrive in any industry.