Life beyond Radford

Last updated 10.04.2017

Campbell Smith

Class of 1999
Lives Wollongong, Australia
Attendance at radford Years 7-12
House Acacia
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What does life look for you now?

I am 33 years old and recently married the love of my life Biz. We live in our little 1950’s cottage a few hundred meters from the beach in Wollongong. We grow plenty of veggies, have chickens and wear shoes as little as possible. I’m lucky enough to enjoy a surf several times a week and we enjoy the company of family and friends.

I am a carpenter/builder and own a small business called Timber Grain Project. We build outdoor garden items such as decks, planter boxes, garden walls and pergolas. Everything is prefabricated in my workshop in Wollongong then transported to Sydney and installed on-site. We work with homeowners, cafés and more recently corporate clients. It seems to be successful because of the limited time required on-site compared to the usual building process.

We have just finished our first prefabricated building and have an increasing number of green roof projects. I am very excited about moving into both these areas in the future.

I consider myself very fortunate to have found a good work/life balance (most of the time) and have healthy relationships with the people around me.

What is your favourite Radford moment?

Year 9 camp with Outward Bound was just a fantastic 10 days. I felt very comfortable in that environment which gave me a chance to come out of my shell a bit. The trip gave me a lot more confidence at school for years after.

How easy was it to decide what to do in life?

I don’t think you ever stop deciding “what to do in life”. I probably think of it more as the “direction I’m heading” because the end goal is always changing. New opportunities arise as you and your situation change so I think it’s important to be flexible.

I didn’t see myself building what I do now when I started as a carpenter. I have a direction for my business over the next one to five years but I understand that will probably change or evolve. I think that’s exciting.

Did your further study or career go exactly as you'd planned?

No, everything’s change several times for me.

When I left Radford in 1999 I completed a Small Business CIT/Tafe course at night while working to travel oversea. I managed to travel a few times over 2 years, mainly trying to chase winters to snowboard.

In 2002 I enrolled to study Commerce at Wollongong Uni. This seemed a big decision at the time because I wasn’t a particularly strong student in high school. These 3 years required some effort to stay on top of my study, however if anyone tells you it wasn’t fun being a uni student they were doing it wrong.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) in 2005, took a job in the Institutional Bank area of a large bank, so moved to Sydney. I worked in this role for just over 2 years. In this time I completed a Diploma of Financial Service, however reached the conclusion Banking/Finance was not the industry for me.

2007-2008 were amazing years. I bought a van after leaving the bank and drove around Australia working as I went. I worked in cafes, vineyards, drilled in the mines and finished working for a cabinetmaker.

2009-2011 I completed a Carpentry apprenticeship. Then spent a further 2 years studying nights at Tafe while subcontracting in Sydney to obtain my Builder’s License.

Once I had finished the licensing requirement my Biz and I took 6 months to travel around Europe in a van over their summer. I highly recommend taking the time out to do this. Highly recommend.

We moved back to Wollongong when we arrived home from Europe. Since then I have been self-employed with Timber Grain Project. We are growing and have plenty of opportunities within the building industry to explore.

What do you know now, that you wish you'd known when you were at Radford?

Finishing Year 12 is just the beginning. Experience takes time. Enjoy the ride.

What advice do you have for current students?

Surround yourself with the good people. Don’t worry to much about the others.

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