Matthew Blair decided to apply for Trinity College in his final year of high school, mostly because it sounded ‘fun’. He subsequently found himself having three of the best years of his life, and, after graduating, starting a career with Pitcher Partners in Melbourne.
Matthew didn’t have a clear plan for life after high school, other than to make the most of every experience and have fun.
In his final year of high school, Matthew was elected school captain at Peninsula Grammar.
‘For me it was always about the people, and about being very committed to supporting the community that supported me so much over my five years there. [I had] a lot of fun in my last year of school.’
Trinity College hadn’t entered Matthew’s life or mind at that stage, but he says fulfilling the role of school captain was an experience that put him ‘in very good stead for getting into Trinity, and for taking on leadership roles there’.
He caught wind of college tales after his brother started attending a residential college in Sydney – and it sounded like it definitely met Matthew’s fun criteria.
He ended up applying. And what followed were ‘three of the best years’ of his life, as he puts it.
But it wasn’t all straightforward. Initially Matthew didn’t get the ATAR he was hoping for to get into commerce – the degree he had decided to pursue. But his mind was made up, so he found a way to enter his course of choice. He applied to do arts (majoring in economics) at the University of Melbourne, got into Trinity College, and there, he got all the support he needed to later transfer into a commerce degree.
‘The best part academically was having mates doing similar subjects, so being able to kind of build off each other and do group projects and assignments,’ Matthew explains.
Matthew’s first day on campus at Trinity is still fresh in his mind, probably also because the friends he made on that first day are still some of his closest friends to this day. He found Trinity was an environment where he had all the academic support and healthy competition he needed. And he certainly got the fun he was hoping for. In spades.
‘I threw myself at every sporting event there was because it's so much fun just being with people and competing in those different environments. There's so much time and effort that the student societies and clubs put in, from the Trinity balls to the sports balls to El Dorado, which is a big kind of initiation party. The events I attended at Trinity will stay with me for life,’ he says.
Not one to shy away from healthy competition, at the end of his first year at Trinity, Matthew joined the race to become ... the college jester. It may sound like getting a name for being the funny one, but it’s not that at all. Being a jester is a proper role that comes with big responsibilities. Matthew had to attend every sports carnival dressed as a mascot for his whole second year at Trinity.
‘I kind of questioned why I did it but, back then, making myself go to every sporting carnival, all the musicals, and being a part of every different social environment was something that I'm so grateful for now. You kind of just run with it at the time, and you look back ... it's those little moments that really change your whole experience.’
Attending every sporting event dressed as a mascot took a lot of his time and energy. But it paid off. ‘You're putting yourself out there in front of 300 people, and I guess it gives you a lot of confidence,’ he says.
As if that commitment wasn’t enough, Matthew also put his hand up to be the Trinity College student association sports representative. It was another learning-filled experience and celebrated his love for sports.
At the end of his first year living on campus, Matthew made a last-minute decision and applied for an internship with Pitcher Partners after running into a colleague who was finishing his internship application in the library late one night. Matthew says he didn’t feel ready for an internship after his first year of study, but nevertheless, applied for an internship that very night.
‘That was Friday. Monday I got a call saying “we’d like you to come for an interview”,’ Matthew says.
He was successful in securing the role and ended up doing an eight-week internship in risk advisory with the Melbourne office of the financial firm.
When he finished his internship, Matthew joined the Pitcher Partners risk advisory team as part of their graduate program. Later, he was successful in securing a position in investment advisory, where he’s part of the team that handles transactions and trading. This is where Matthew feels he’s made the most of his skills and passions.
COVID-19 hasn’t dampened his professional ascent, given he was recently promoted to associate advisor.
Modestly, Matthew credits his Peninsula Grammar and Trinity College education for his successes: ‘I’d be nowhere near where I am without them.’ His fun seeking, healthy competitive spirit, and amble decision making certainly played a big part too.
By Antoanela Safca