We invited Old Flinderian, Gemma Smallfield (Layfield) from the Class of 2008 to feature in our Beyond Flinders profiles. Gemma reflects on school life at Flinders and shares what she's learned about herself and her career path since graduating 14 years ago.
Gemma's advice to our students is timely for our Flinders Seniors of 2022 as they prepare to graduate in the coming weeks and start the next exciting chapter of their lives: "Don’t be afraid to have conversations with people (beyond your parents) who can help you figure out where to go beyond Flinders and the many routes that exist to get there."
Thanks to Gemma for sharing this profile.
Gemma, what does life look like for you now?
I’m a full-time working mum with a beautiful son and wife, living in North Brisbane. I‘m working in the sporting industry, servicing football, and was previously at Football Queensland. In my career, I’ve managed social media channels, looked after corporate partners, and conceived and delivered initiatives and special programs, including the 100th Anniversary of Women in Football, Protect Our Game and the #Good2GIveBack volunteer campaign.
I still thoroughly enjoy playing football (I started when I was 11) and my career took a major turn three years ago when I moved from the world of cleantech lighting solutions to work in the sport that I love.
What was your favourite Flinders moment?
I vividly remember the musicals I was involved in (Calamity Jane and High School Musical) and the fun we had performing them at The Events Centre in Caloundra. It was also great to win a few football games with the girl’s team (Flinders Flames) which we formed and eventually won the competition in my Senior year.
Do you have a particular role model from Flinders or now?
I’ve stayed in contact with my teacher Mrs Susan Lynch who was a great mentor to me during my time at Flinders and was also my homeroom teacher for five years! Her positivity and commitment to the whole student experience is commendable and something I am very grateful for.
I’m also fortunate to have a few mentors from different industries and with various backgrounds who help guide me in managing my career and pushing forward to achieve my goals.
How ‘easy’ was it to decide what to do in life?
Not easy! In my final year at Flinders, I enjoyed my business subject and decided to continue exploring that with a business degree in Management & Marketing. Having an interest in something makes the hard work easier, and along the way learning more about who you are as a person and what makes you happy helps to make the puzzle pieces fit.
When I realised that I’m a people person who thrives on building relationships, it made sense to apply that in a business sense and build skills that would foster this ability. When the opportunity appeared in my favourite sport, it was a no-brainer.
Did your further study or career go exactly as you planned?
I don’t think I had a plan of what my career would look like, however, looking back, I should have known that I would be happy in a role that allowed me to pursue my passion, build my skills and allow me to help others. It has really helped knowing my core values and identifying when they do and don’t align in different situations.
What advice do you have for current students?
As stressful and tough as it may get, enjoy every minute of your time at school. Once you leave, life gets messy and it’s a mission just to plan a catch-up with your friends who may end up living on the other side of the world!
Invest in you and spend time learning about what you like or what you are naturally good at. Don’t be afraid to have conversations with people (beyond your parents) who can help you figure out where to go beyond Flinders and the many routes that exist to get there.