From hostage negotiation to international business, Master of International Law student Austin Whittaker is used to high pressure situations.
Austin has taken on a range of careers, getting his start in special operations units of the Australian Army and NSW police and later managing an international security company and a start-up renewable energy company.
Austin’s work and interest has always had an international focus and he currently consults across a diverse portfolio of project management, international trade, and security and risk management.
“One of my consulting roles involves significant capital purchases of equipment from overseas and I was drafting reasonably complex legal documents based on years of accumulated experience in this area,” says Austin.
As the work grew it became more complex and soon there were contracts worth tens of millions of dollars and involving intellectual property. That’s when Austin made the decision to sharpen his skills and return to university.
But when he was faced with returning to tertiary study after a variety of professional careers, he had some reservations.
“I wasn’t trained as a lawyer, even though I had experience in doing that kind of work. It has also been about 30 years since I have done any formal study,” says Austin.
Austin decided to study the Graduate Certificate in International Law Practice at Griffith University, a part-time online degree designed to equip professionals for transactional and dispute resolution work in a global market.
“For me it was a great opportunity to evaluate my performance and if it was too challenging I could exit with a Graduate Certificate. I completed that degree and I am now well progressed in the Masters,” says Austin.
The flexibility of six-week study sessions, the online tools and resources were perfectly suited to Austin’s busy job which might see him embedded in another country for weeks at a time.
“If you found that your work life was going to get really busy, you could just opt out of the next block and take up your studies again when it suited you,” says Austin.
Studying with passionate lecturers who are internationally recognised experts in their field also has its advantages.
“I modified the dispute resolution clauses in our own commercial contracts during the Commercial Litigation and Arbitration courses which Professors Therese Wilson and Mary Keyes taught,” says Austin.
Austin also got the opportunity to sharpen his negotiating skills in the classroom, an important skill which he uses frequently in his job.
According to Austin, Griffith’s Masters of International Law offers an interesting variety of courses striking the perfect balance between commercial and humanitarian focused themes.
“I am directly involved in international business and the commercial subjects had an immediate impact on my work. But my wider interest in humanitarian issues like International Family Law and Transitional Justice was also really interesting,” says Austin.
Find out more about the Master of International Law at Griffith University. Apply by 11 June, 2018 for a July start.