Tim Lawley

Go overseas when you’re at university, whether it’s a summer abroad or an exchange. You'll remember the experience long after you forget the cost.

At first glance, the Department of Finance doesn’t seem like the perfect match for a Bachelor of Arts graduate.

But 2013 graduate Tim Lawley, who majored in International Relations and Arabic, is using his foreign affairs knowledge as part of a team that provides policy and financial advice to government on foreign affairs, trade and official development assistance issues.

Tim started in the Department of Finance graduate program soon after he finished his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degree, and has been using skills he learned at ANU since day one.  

“When I’m reviewing proposals, a lot of what I learnt at ANU comes in handy as in my day to day work I need to know what's happening in the world and international affairs and the knowledge and understanding I gained at ANU has been incredibly valuable for that,” says Tim

But it’s not only his international relations knowledge that’s helping Tim in his career.

“We do a lot of research into a topic before providing advice to government. It’s a lot like assessments I did in my Arts degree in that you have to study and learn the topic, often from scratch – so all those research skills and different ways of looking at a problem are incredibly useful.”

Being able to approach a problem from multiple viewpoints is useful in providing impartial advice as a public servant, and even the process of getting feedback on assignments at ANU has helped him take on feedback at work.

Reflecting on his time at ANU, Tim says he was drawn to the standout reputation of the international relations program, and that moving away from home in Sydney to Canberra was an “added bonus”.

“I came in with this idea of studying international relations and I didn’t quite know exactly what that was going to be. But it meant that I could pick and choose so many different courses, whether that was the oil economies of the gulf countries, development issues in the indo-pacific region or  the politics of the European Union and America,” he says. 

The Middle East, an area that Tim says has always fascinated him, was a focus of his studies through Arabic and some of his international relations courses. He had an “eye-opening experience” studying in Aleppo in Syria for three months in 2009.

“It was really interesting being in this culture which I’ve read about and studied so much, I got to see a lot of amazing sites and meet some incredibly interesting locals,” he says.

It’s something he thinks everyone should try to do as part of their studies: “Go overseas when you’re at university, whether it’s a summer abroad or an exchange, I think it’s a really valuable experience. You'll remember the experience long after you forget the cost.”

As for his career, Tim thinks his ANU education has him well-placed for an international career.

“Ultimately I would like my career to take me overseas working in the area of international relations, possibly for an NGO or other organisation.”

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Updated:  23 June 2021/Responsible Officer:  CASS Marketing & Communications/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications