Q & A with Philippa Duffy

Philippa Duffy (TC 2004) is a former Senior Student, Board member and helped establish planitgreen, Trinity’s sustainability program. She has lived, worked and studied across the globe and is currently an Engagement Manager at McKinsey. We caught up with Philippa to get her take on life at and post Trinity, and her tips for living a healthy and happy life.

1. While at Trinity, you represented the College in eight sports, which must be some kind of record! You were also Trinity Sportswomen of the Year twice. Why did you get so involved with sports at the College? What other activities did you enjoy while at College?

While I'd always played sport in New Zealand as a kid, at Trinity I loved that I could try new sports in a supportive environment (even learning the Aussie version of "footy"), and in the process get to know folks across different year groups. One of the other things I relished doing at College was serving in a variety of leadership roles to advance the College community, including the role of Senior Student. 

2. How have you stayed involved with Trinity since leaving the College and what do you think makes the College special? 

Regardless of where I've lived I've always stayed in contact with College friends. Indeed, last year I was back in Australia for a fantastic Trinity wedding, where we belted out songs as if we were all back in the JCR. When I lived in Melbourne I also helped set up planitgreen, Trinity's sustainability program.
What makes the College so special for me is its focus on providing a large and liberal education, and the sense of community. 

3. If you could go back and study at the College, is there anything you would do differently?

Having glanced at the Fleur-de-Lys book, maybe a few of those fluro costumes! On a more serious note, I wish I'd kept a weekly gratitude and reflection journal. I've kept one for the past five years, and it helps me reflect on whether I'm really living the life I aspire to, and capturing learnings.

4. What can you tell us about your career journey thus far? What do you enjoy most about your current role?

It certainly hasn't been a linear journey! While I got admitted as a solicitor, I ultimately joined McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm. After serving clients across multiple industries and functions, one of my mentors encouraged me to pursue my passion for working in education, given I'd loved my time on the Trinity Board. So, I joined Pearson, the world's largest education company, travelling the globe visiting everyplace from South African township schools to Mexican online universities. Despite these enriching experiences, I really wanted to deepen my business and leadership toolkit, so I accepted a place at Stanford in their MBA and MA Education program. 

Currently, I'm an Engagement Manager at McKinsey focusing on large transformations for healthcare clients. I love the impact I get to have - at the moment I'm working on a project that should fundamentally improve healthcare for low-income, vulnerable and ageing populations.  And I also love working with super smart, fun people; and the real focus on building capabilities - for my clients, for my McKinsey teams, and for me. 

5. You have worked in London, the Middle East and currently live in the United States. What tips do you have to any students/alumni looking to launch a career overseas?

There are so many different ways to do this but looking back what served me well was:
1) Pursuing educational opportunities overseas - attending a US based university on an exchange or for graduate degree or a short course can be a great way to expand your network. 
2) Join global organisations - while I started in the Australian office of McKinsey I had the opportunity to move to any of their 120+ offices worldwide. 
3) Over-index on Give vs Take - Adam Grant in his book (Give and Take), argues that givers are more successful, and what makes them special is that they are generous networkers. If doing a favour for someone in the Trinity network takes less than five minutes you should always do it. Karma transcends oceans. 

6. What do you enjoy about living in San Francisco? Is there any plan to move back to Australia in the future?

Professionally, I like that San Francisco is a magnet for top talent and innovative ideas. People are constantly asking the question, "What if, … ?". 

Personally, I love San Francisco because I met the love of my life here, Howard. San Francisco offers a lot: great cultural diversity, a foodie's delight, the ability to be in an urban setting, but in 30 minutes be out in the forest hiking. Howard and I love exploring California together too - skiing up at Tahoe, hiking in the Sierras, wine tasting in Napa, and surfing at Santa Barbara. With so many San Francisco transplants, folks are really excited about making new friends here, even if your accent is a little different.

At the moment, no near-term plans to move back, but Howard and I are planning a trip to Australia this year. 

27 Feb 2018
Category: People