Industry Shaker

Kurt Walkom

Bachelor of Commerce (Finance), Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (Co-op)

As a student completing a double degree in Commerce and Engineering at UNSW, Kurt Walkom thought he was on track to become a mechanical engineer. However, the practical knowledge and experience he gained from four different internships taught him otherwise.

It was only after earning a Co-op scholarship and participating in two engineering internships that Kurt realised that he wanted a job that would enable him to see the bigger picture.

“I realised that the business dictates what is created, not the engineering team. So I set about learning to build successful businesses rather than focusing on how to build machinery,” Kurt said.

This marked a pivotal point in Kurt’s career as he veered to a different career path – the entrepreneurial world of start-ups.

Kurt took full advantage of the flexibility of the courses at the UNSW Business School to balance his study and extracurricular activities. He used his Commerce degree as a springboard into different industries and actively looked for business internship opportunities to better understand what makes a business successful.

Kurt’s third internship led him to Marshall Investments as an investment analyst – which provided him with the opportunity to learn more about how to invest in companies. He was quickly drawn to venture capitalist projects and the ability to create high impact investments.

To explore other aspects of a business, Kurt then took up another internship opportunity with global chemical firm Solvay in its strategic marketing division in Lyon, France.

Through his academic and practical learnings at UNSW and participation in a variety of internships, Kurt identified a need in the Australian market to help people invest in shares, compare investment strategies and achieve long-term financial goals such as financial independence. It was during that time that he came up with the innovative idea of founding his own fintech start-up Pearler.

With support from the UNSW Founders program – Australia’s most comprehensive on-campus entrepreneurship program with over 500 start-up projects; Kurt was able to extend his skillset with practical experience and entrepreneurial thinking.

A key learning from Kurt’s experience at the UNSW Business school is that it is possible to test out multiple career paths while studying.

“Exploring different career paths by undertaking a variety of internships while at university is an incredibly effective way for students to discover where their passions lie before they graduate.”

It was only after completing his internships at two engineering firms that Kurt decided that he did not want to become a mechanical engineer. It was only after interning at a global company that he realised that he wanted to create his own start-up. It was only after interning in another country that Kurt realised that he wanted to bring his expertise back to Australia and launch Pearler.

“Internships have definitely complemented my study at UNSW and have influenced my career path as an entrepreneur today.”

UNSW Business School students have the competitive advantage of gaining industry experience and accessing internships through the Career Accelerator program – a suite of opportunities designed to help students build their career skills. To find out more about where your UNSW Business School degree could take you – feel free to speak to one of our experts today.