Life beyond Radford

Mentor If you’d like me to be your mentor please contact Collegians to arrange a meeting.
Last updated 10.04.2017

Trent Clews-de Castella

Class of 2007
OCCUPATION Chief Executive Officer, Executive Director, Co-Founder at PHORIA
Lives Melbourne, Australia
Attendance at radford Years 6-12
House Boronia
Work history
  • CEO, PHORIA, 2014-Present
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What does life look for you now?

Pure joy!
Work for myself with some of my oldest friends by my side. Requires a lot of hard work to keep all the balls in the air, however I have never quite experienced something as rewarding as this.

Tell us what you are passionate about?

Inspired by the potential impact of these new digital tools we now have at our fingertips. Excited by the prospect of scalable social impact through the medium of immersive media.

When you were young, what were you hoping to be when you grew up?

An iron chef!

What is your favourite Radford moment?

This sounds awful but... lunchtime handball sessions.

Do you have a particular role model or inspirational figure from Radford or now?

Steven Kounnas!

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

After enough wondering around, I finally landed on the pursuit of doing what I love. From there, the rest started to fall into place.

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

Yes and No… As Steven just highlighted, who has even the faintest idea as to what they want to do with their life?

When I was young, I always had an enthused interest in new technology. In fact, I recall spending months of savings to purchase the first ever MP3 player, it had only one earpiece and played only 30 seconds of ushers U-turn, it was dope. This would have to be the thread that has led me to where I am today, what new tools are out there and how can we tap into their potential to improve our lives.

Leaving college as a man who could have easily been diagnosed with ADD in his youth, I quickly gravitated towards new and unknown domains that simply kept me engaged and fulfilled, with the occasional LAN party. Nothing has haunted me more than the thought of being stuck in an office cubicle for weeks on end, work piling up and life wearing me down.

When I started study, it was a combined degree of commerce and economics. After my first six months and having evaluated future job prospects for a qualified economist, I quickly pivoted my degree in the opposite direction and decided to study people, not broken financial systems.

So, quite naturally, the inner attention deficit child in me had begun pursuing a more risky, dynamic and engaging path in trying to build a Company in Scann3d.

Psychology was a thoroughly enjoyable path and I quickly found that there was a certain level of emotional intelligence in everyone, something that extended well beyond the measurement criteria confined to high school number and university letter.

Throughout Uni, I began to develop a keen interest in 3D printing, Scanning, VR and Music, having often wondered how I might some day meld these hobbies together. After a few years, I began to see if I could connect the dots for consumers and businesses interested in these similar spaces, which basically resulted in networking, discovery and ultimately putting me outside of my comfort zone, giving presentations at events, making cold calls and eventually leading a team.

Today I still follow the pursuit of happiness and am fortunate to be doing it with my best friend by my side as we tread our own path and having an insanely enjoyable time along the way.

Looking back two years ago, there is no possible way I could have ever conceived that I would be where I am today and I know that the same can be said about me in 12 months from now. At the end of the day, I come home from a days work, feeling enthused by my team, inspired by the new opportunities and passionate about the work my team and I produce.

What advice do you have for current students?

Not that I would have ever considered myself much of a role model, it would still be great to share a few of the key stories and moments from my youth that heavily impacted and transformed my trajectory.

I will never forget the succinct and meaningful advice that my older Sister Krista Clews-de Castella shared with me on my first day at Radford “Be kind Trent”. Before I left to jump on the school bus, Krista was relaying some of her own experience having just completed year 12 the year prior. “You will change a lot throughout high-school and college, find new friends and learn new things about yourself. However, the one thing that people will remember you for is if whether or not you were a genuinely nice person.”

Looking back, it is such simple advice that you would have expected to be misplaced by a naïve and pre-pubescent teenage boy.

My early years at Radford were incredibly tough for me, I felt like an awkward misfit that was not comfortable with the circle in which I had found myself, primarily because I was not comfortable within my own skin at the time.

A popular saying that springs to mind goes, a teacher once presented a question to the class, asking them what they wanted to be when they grew up? When the teacher was going through everyone’s responses, she had seen that a one of the students had marked down “Happy”. The teacher then approached him saying “Tom, I think you misunderstood the question?” To which he replied “Miss, I think you misunderstand life.”

Instead of asking yourself where you should be heading in life? Try asking instead, what brings you happiness?

For a solid three months, I dread the process of having to go to school each day, feeling isolated and alone having attracted the unnecessary attention from a group of antagonists from the year above. Suffering from a mild bout of depression at the time and with no close friends to confide in, Radford felt more like a juvenile sentence in which I would meander to and from each day.

What need was there for kindness when you felt ostracized from the community in which you were meant to identify with? What chance was there of finding happiness when I grow up, when every day was shrouded with dread?

My heart sincerely pours out to every young adult that has at one point or another had to face their own internal struggles, challenges and fears. I know our whole year group had a myriad of their own. Whilst the darkest of days may be incredibly tough and an extreme escape may present an easy alternative, I can assure you that there is a deeper and even more rewarding life experience that awaits you on the other side. Forcing you to challenge your own limitations and level up in the face of adversity.

Towards the end of the year, I had made great progress mentally, I was enjoying my studies, formed close bonds with new friends (many of which I am still close and even share a career with today) and heck, even managed to figure out how to speak to girls.

Radford was a great a school at the time, although I might not have realized it, had I reached out to my teachers or class mates in pursuit of the kindness in which my sister described, I would have been warmly received.

Now, I have watched Radford grow as a school, expanding in size, staff and reputation as the premiere private school in the ACT. Whilst it is a school that is excellent at preparing you for university, boasting high grades, fees and alumni to boot. I would not to be quick to assume that its classrooms lessons left you equipped to embrace the harder challenges of life.

Somewhere along the line, our definition of success became blurred, future goals became about money and isn’t it funny how the desire for power and wealth has increased the speed at which we believe we need to work? I see so many friends lost in careers paths that are designed to supersede their peers in yet another rat race. Only to find that that their disengaging and stressfully pursuit for perceived status result in boredom rather than moving in a direction that is conducive to happiness, freedom and kindness.

We have all been exposed to the same definition of happiness, in which mathematicians and scientists analyze half-baked algorithms and formulas that they believe adds up to their equation of happiness. We need to redefine what success means to us, we need to redefine what happiness means to us. Lets not make happiness and success about the size of our homes and paychecks but about the size of our hearts and friendships. Lets not make it about it gratification but about gratitude.

Instead of thinking about what you want to do, think about who you want to be?

Do you want to be more self aware, do you want to be more conscious, do you want to be a better person, do you want to be a difference in the world.

I know I do,

Be kind, you never know when that person might need it most.

Blindly pursue happiness, if you enjoy what you do, success will follow

Oh and please do us all a favour…Explore the new and emerging tools now available with Virtual and Augmented Reality. These immersive industries will drastically transform the world as we know it, with the next generation of doers and thinkers having the power to solve some of the biggest unanswered challenges we now face.

Parents - Greatness is not achieved by off-loading your children each morning to be raised by an elite private school and no child likes being the last one picked up at night.

Teachers - Accomplishments extend well beyond merit, I would love to see recognition for achievements in emotional intelligence.

Radford – Please commit a strong focus to mental health, not just for your students, but for the teachers and supporting staff that make up the community.

The Truth hurts far less than a lie to ones face. Show Compassion for those from other nations and cultures, they deserve the right to live here just as much as ANY Australian. Respect yourself.

Where are you now?