In touch with … Carla Dias Wadewitz

As director of Flinders’ new MBA, Carla Dias Wadewitz will be preparing students for the future of work – and the world. We caught up with her to discuss her remarkable career, and how she moves her feet to calm her mind.

What is your role and what does your work focus on?

I have just recently changed roles within Flinders University.

I’ve been a lecturer in Innovation & Enterprise (INNO topics) in the College of Business, Government and Law, and have helped deliver innovation industry programs to companies through the Flinders New Venture Institute, Flinders University’s entrepreneurial organisation.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to coordinate Flinders’ new MBA program. I was thrilled to be asked, so readily accepted, and now my role will see me engaging with postgraduate teaching faculty, students and external industry stakeholders to ensure that the new courses are designed with industry and for industry, guaranteeing that our graduates are ready for any professional challenge and their future workforce.

I’m also really excited to be able to deliver the new Defence Entrepreneurship Program that will be offered through the new MBA.

Can you briefly describe the journey that took you to this point in your career?

It has been a really interesting and rewarding ride that’s for sure!

After completing my Bachelor of Business Administration in 1999 at Catolica School of Business and Economics (CLSBE), I started my career as a management consultant and travelled the world delivering projects focussed on redesigning and improving corporate innovation strategy and technology solutions across many diverse industries. My last consulting project in 2002 (just before embarking on the journey to study my MBA in the US) was in Adelaide, where I met my husband, which completely (and luckily) changed the path I was on.

I completed my MBA in Australia at UNSW in 2004, and after that, worked as a Contracts and Finance Manager for the South Australian Government which then evolved to a role as Investment Manager with Playford Capital (the entrepreneurial venture capital arm of the government at the time). My drive for innovation and connecting the entrepreneurial ecosystem grew exponentially and I thank that role for allowing me to learn about investment strategies and methodologies but also to connect me with key stakeholders of the innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems in SA and across Australia.

I then spent a decade as an Investment Banker in Europe, where I got shown the ins and outs of finance and understanding business transactions at a much deeper level. At the same time, I was lecturing in Entrepreneurship at CLSBE, consulting with the United Nations (FAO) for funding of projects in AgTech and delivering innovation acceleration programs to companies and start-ups.

When I returned to Australia, I embraced the challenge at Flinders to teach INNO topics to students from most Colleges across the University, while also delivering indudstry innovation programs to large corporations, small and medium sized enterprises, and start-ups.

All this diverse experience has shaped who I am today, both personally and professionally – I like to think that person is pretty understanding, accepting and inclusive!

What is your go-to fact to share about what you do?

I love to teach and I love to engage with industry, normally through the delivery of innovation programs but also through events, work integrated learning opportunities for students or research projects where the exchange of knowledge and the opportunities for collaboration consistently arise.

I love to connect the dots of the ecosystem so people can work together and SA and Australia can prosper.

What is something you are most proud of?

I love helping people, both professionally and personnaly, and I am proud of that. I am always thinking about using innovation and technology to improve people’s lives and that makes me really happy, in combination with my amazing family and group of friends.

I am also proud of my ability to juggle things on a daily basis. I congratulate all my fellow multitaskers – it certainly is not easy, and I think a lot of us forget that!

Getting up around 6 am to cook lunches and recesses and then juggling teaching with delivering programs to companies, attending work related industry events, taking kids to sports and activities, cooking and completing house tasks, while at the same time responding to personal and professional emails and messages or returning calls is a gigantic challenge and leaves you with very little time to breathe, reflect or to do some physical exercise! And the fact that it is ongoing is something that I think we all should feel proud of.

I believe resilience and passion for what you do will keep you going while still being able to smile! But there is a very sensitive balance and that is super hard to achieve when you multitask.

What does a normal day look like for you?

There is no typical day for me and that is another reason why I love what I do. I can be teaching or delivering a program to companies or entrepreneurs. I can be in meetings with fellow academic colleagues, with Flinders NVI team, students or with industry stakeholders. I can be writing a book chapter or journal article.

No day is the same.

I also love the flexibility that Flinders provides across the three Uni campuses (Bedford, Tonsley and Adelaide CBD) which is quite practical for someone like me doing several different activities across Adelaide.

How do you like to relax or spend your spare time?

I am at my best when I am dancing. Certain music really makes me feel alive and it is the best way for me to de-stress. So, when I can, I do Zumba or other dance classes.

My passion for music became stronger when I was 9 years old and usually after school studied piano in a music conservatory for approximately 10 years. So, these days when I can sneak into my son’s bedroom, I still use his piano to remember the days when I had time to play and compose music. I also love to sing but my singing voice isn’t great!

Apart from dance and music, my husband and I juggling our kids and all their (many) activities! We’ve got two children, 12 and 15, who both love their sport and their hobbies, so we spend a lot of our time shuttling them from soccer to futsal to basketball to tennis to table tennis, and when they’re not at sport, they love chess, so go to trainings, games and tournaments for that as well!

So, there’s not always a lot of time after all that! The time I have left is usually spent catching up with family and friends, or I like to read the news to keep up with relevant industry and academic developments.

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