ARMSTRONG, Shane

Image Shane Armstrong

Degree

Diploma of Teaching (Primary)

Graduation year

1983

Current position

Executive Vice President, President International
Scholastic Corporation New York

Employer

Scholastic Corporation

What are some of your career highlights?

I guess the most surprising career highlight was being made Managing Director of Macmillan Education Australia (Macmillan Publishers) when I was 36 years of age. I was totally unprepared, but didn't know enough to be overwhelmed, which was probably a good thing. Being thrown in at the deep-end was life changing.

After Macmillan I moved to Singapore to run the Times Publishing Group, publishing operation. This period was both an amazing business and cultural learning experience.

The most significant career highlight was being appointed President of International for Scholastic, the largest publisher and distributor of children's books in the world. With revenue responsibility for ($US) 400+ million, it's a long way from Ballarat College of Advanced Education, where I first studied or indeed Ballarat where I grew up.

Working with people and running operations in India, China, Singapore, Latin America, Africa, UK and of course Australia and New Zealand. Diversity is a wonderful thing.

Describe the most enjoyable and challenging aspects of your job

Managing people is always the most challenging part of any business, however it is also the most important to get right. If you get the people part right, success follows.

Jetlag is challenging. I can be in five different countries in one week, so there are times when I am not sure of where I am, or even worse, what I am saying!

The most enjoyable part of my job is bringing books, whether they be digital or print, fiction, non-fiction or educational, to children around the globe. We recently delivered several million books to children in Afghanistan, many of whom had never seen a book before. This was a great feeling.

What are your strongest memories of your time studying at the University?

I suspect some of my strongest memories can't be written about here! I do recall having some great lecturers, Ian Page and Isobel Lawson I recall with fondness, as well as Mal McKinley in mathematics. There were also some not so great ones, but then again they probably didn't think much of me either.

Do you have any advice about life after study?

Don't pass up opportunities. You never know where things might lead, but it is always easier in business and perhaps in life to say 'no' when 'yes' can open a world of possibilities. It is important to believe in yourself, back yourself and take risks. You will never know what might be, if you don't do.

Be politically astute, not political. Politics destroys companies.

In one sentence, what words of wisdom would you pass on to students?

It's not the degree that matters, it's what you do with your degree and your life thereafter that matters most.