Sea change for former Navy officer turned USQ alumni
PENELOPE Twemlow is an expert navigator, having spent ten years travelling the world with the Royal Australian Navy.
After a decade at sea, Twemlow has mapped a new path for her future completing two masters' degrees at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ).
"USQ was a great fit for my demanding schedule," she said.
In between driving and navigating warships, Twemlow studied a dual masters externally while working full-time.
"I had to be available for my role in the Defence Force at various hours of the day for long periods of time so my study requirements had to be flexible to suit my work," she said.
"It was hard work, but I very quickly realised that any loss I experienced in the short term from having to study and not having much of a social life, I would gain in the long term because I would be able to achieve what I wanted to achieve in my career."
Hard work and long hours aside, it was all smooth sailing in the end for Twemlow who completed her Master of Project Management and Master of Business Administration (MBA).
"I always wanted to study project management because I knew it was going to be one of my key skills," she said.
"I did my MBA at the same time because it was the degree people needed to get ahead, to get senior executive roles and I learned a lot, but I use the project management skills I learned at USQ every day."
Thanks to USQ's flexible learning options, she was able to complete her studies from abroad.
With more than 75 per cent of USQ students studying online, course materials can be accessed from anywhere in the world.
In the past, USQ exams have been held in Antarctica, on a naval ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, war zones, remote communities in Australia, and correctional facilities.
I was emailing them at stupid o'clock in the morning and they would always get back to me within a 24-hour period which was really helpful.
"My learning certainly wasn't restricted to the classroom," Twemlow said.
"I had some extremely insightful and knowledgeable lecturers and tutors who were available whenever I needed them."
"I was emailing them at stupid o'clock in the morning and they would always get back to me within a 24-hour period which was really helpful.
"They also provided me additional assistance if my operational work requirements found me lagging behind or needing extra time for assignments."
From under the sea to on top of the world, Twemlow is now the Chairperson and Co-Founder of Women in Power; an organisation whose mission it is to advance the roles of women in industry.
"Without the qualifications and experience I gained from USQ, I would not be in the position I am today, nor hold the accolades that have been afforded to me," she said.
"I was able to take what I learnt and apply it to the real world in which I was working - putting into practice tangible concepts that would make me a better and well-rounded manager and leader."
Outside of her Chief Executive Officer role, Twemlow is a sought after keynote speaker, executive mentor and author.
She volunteers with Team Rubicon, which combines the skills of experienced military personnel with first responders in order to deploy emergency response teams as rapidly as possible.
She is also an Ambassador for White Ribbon to prevent domestic violence against women and children, an advocate for various mental health agencies, and empowers women through organisations such as the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA).
Of her many accolades, Twemlow is the winner of the 2016 Queensland Telstra Business Women's Award for Social Enterprise and Not-For-Profit, as well as three awards at the 2017 Women in Industry Awards and the 2016 APAC CEO of the Year.
"I'm a lifelong learner," she said. "Education is the one tool each of us can use to change our own lives and the lives of other people.
"Take any opportunity that's afforded to you to study and up-skill yourself.
"Don't chase the role you think will make you a millionaire. Chase the role you are passionate about, because at the end of the day if you are spending a minimum of eight hours a day at work, you have to love what you do.
"That's an important part of having a fulfilling life."
With more than 100 degrees to pick from - including Aviation, Engineering, Business, Law and more - USQ could be where it all begins.
Apply now for Semester 3 at USQ. Applications close November 5.