DegreeBen Townsend

Bachelor of Computing

Graduation year


Current position

Senior Director of Engineering and Technical Advisor to the CTO


Upwork (

What are some of your career highlights?

My first job was an Analyst/Programmer, and from there I worked my way through different roles including project manager, consultant and enterprise architect.  Highlights of my career to date would have to include starting and running my own company (still going today!), travelling the world as a consultant for an ERP solutions vendor, leading great teams of people to deliver some extraordinary projects, and being headhunted by Amazon which allowed my family to embark on an adventure in the USA, where we have been for the last 4+ years.  Who knows what’s next!

Describe the most enjoyable and challenging aspects of your job

My current role is Senior Director of Engineering at Upwork, where I am the technical advisor to the CTO.  This means I get to see, at close range, the activities of the C-team as they plot the key strategies for the next phase of Upwork’s growth.  Our growth has been accelerated by the increase in remote work caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and my main challenge is to improve efficiency and robustness of Upwork’s delivery processes across both software engineering and product/program management.  I am leading the charge to define and embed those new processes so we can deliver faster, more accurately and with the highest levels of quality.

What are your strongest memories while you were studying at the University?

I moved to Australia in 1990 and struggled with the transition between UK and Australian school systems.  These struggles with the new VCE meant it was a challenge to get a place at Uni (1992 was one of those years where demand for places exceeded the capacity of our universities).  I mercilessly called the admissions coordinator for the Bachelor of Computing (Geoff Boyd) every day, and secured a second round offer at Ballarat.  My challenges to gain admission meant I really, REALLY appreciated my spot at Uni.  I never took it for granted and worked my butt off to do well.  I fondly remember winning a scholarship from Novell Corporation in second year, and also doing a part-time job helping the Unix sysadmin to maintain the Unix network and the Sun workstations we had back in the day. But, by far, my strongest memories are of the community and the awesome teaching staff who took time to cultivate the knowledge which has allowed me to have this career!

Do you have any advice about life after study to pass on to current students?

Moving into the work-world after university can be a challenge, so use your time at Uni to build skills that will help you succeed. University gives you a great opportunity to learn, but it’s also a fantastic place to develop your self-reliance, motivation and drive, because no one keeps tabs on you at Uni - there’s no teacher standing over your shoulder asking where your homework is 😊.

Your success depends on your motivation to do well, to get those assignments done, and to work hard for good results – and this ethos translates well in the work world. I truly believe that it’s worthwhile spending some time at Uni learning to set goals and discovering the best ways to motivate yourself towards achieving them.  Even if you only progress a little bit each day, you’re still moving forward!

The drive and self-motivation I honed at Uni have served me well in every single job I’ve had, and I expect they will continue to serve me into the future.  Never underestimate the power of self-motivation, self-reliance and determination.