David Handley

David Handley is the Founding Director of Sculpture by the Sea and What Degree? Which University?. He graduated from the University of Sydney with Bachelors degrees in Arts and Law and a Masters of Law from Kings College, London.

Name – David Handley

Age - Well over 22 - which is how old I was when I first started What Degree? Which Uni? in the last year of my law degree at Sydney Uni.

What Degree did you do?
Arts and Law at Sydney Uni, immediately followed by a Master of Law at Kings College, London University, which was a great way to see Europe while avoiding joining the work force.

Please describe your university experience on the whole.
I loved it! University is when the world opens up to you. There is so much on offer and are so many opportunities that the world is your oyster. The secret is trying to distil everything into what you want to do and to decide what is realistic or manageable and then biting off a bit more!

The first of these impossible choices was deciding what subjects to do in my Arts degree.  There is literally the world to choose from. I wanted a wide ranging degree and chose History, Economics, Philosophy and Law subjects – inspired in part by the idea of the Cambridge University degree known as PPE for Politics, Philosophy and Economics. The History department at Sydney Uni is a treasure trove of knowledge and everyone who taught me from Modern German to Ancient Greek and C20th American History was world class, brilliant and inspiring.

When it came to studying I coasted too much but then again, if you don’t do the work no one cares and you simply disappear, just another student to bite the dust (and there are lots of them!), so you have to put in a real effort to get through exams and major essays, especially for the harder law subjects (i.e. most of them).

Then there was the stuff I worked really hard at like playing in a rock band, sport (plenty of rugby), part time work with very average waiting jobs that I actually enjoyed and ushering at the Theatre Royal (too many performances of Cats which probably explains why I like dogs). In my last year of uni I started 'What Degree? Which University?' because no one gave us enough info about uni at school and I thought the best people to do this were uni students themselves. So with this website here we go again, it’s a start and we will keep getting better and better.

What is your current position and company/organisation you work for, and the info of your previous role also.
I’m the Founding Director of Sculpture by the Sea which stages large free to the public sculpture exhibitions in Sydney (Bondi beach to Tamarama coastal walk); Perth (Cottesloe beach); and the City of Aarhus in Denmark. After uni I worked as a solicitor for Minter Ellison for a couple of years.   I never planned on being a solicitor, but at 21 I decided to finish my law degree and work as a lawyer for two years in order to gain more knowledge of the corporate world because I knew that one day I wanted to work for myself.  Being a solicitor taught me a lot about the business world, (trying to be professional) and (because I kept my eyes and ears open) running a business.

What is the worst job you have had?
My last job as a lawyer. It was a small entertainment law firm which sounded cool but actually had very few clients and was going down the gurgler. I was only there for seven or eight months but dead end jobs take the wind out of your sails.

What aspects of uni have you taken with you throughout your career?
Friends, knowledge – well at least some – a love of life and its possibilities AND also a fear of getting stuck in a job that I hated, so I knew I had to work for myself. This was a key reason for trying to come up with my own ideas to start up new businesses.

Would you do the same thing at university if you went back now?
Yes, though maybe I would have worked a bit harder. Plus if I could have found a year up my sleeve I would have enjoyed doing my History Honours year.

That said, thank god Facebook wasn’t around because we wouldn’t have wanted our parties on the www.

Words of advice?
Trust your own instincts, listen to yourself and start making decisions that are best for you. In this way you’ll be giving yourself the most important training for the rest of your life. 

To give yourself half a chance of in living the life you want, be honest with yourself to know the difference between taking the easy option and the option which might give you a shot at what you really want, then go for it.  As Pink Floyd says, "No one told me when to run, I missed the starting gun!"

Some  things about you!
What did you want to be when you were a kid?   A rock star who owned a purple panel wagon.
Favourite holiday destination / adventure.   Swimming, scuba diving and driving around Fiji
Favourite band / artist   Now – Powderfinger and Missy Higgins, Then – The Church and Ed Kuepper.
Cooking specialty   Spaghetti Marinara
Summer or Winter?   Summer any day unless someone is paying for a week’s skiing.
Favourite book / magazine / newspaper  ‘Narcissus & Goldmund’ by Herman Hesse, ‘The Magus’ by John Fowles and 'Vanity Fair'.
Do you prefer to play sport or watch sport? And what/who?   Play – ocean swimming. My favourite swims are Palm Beach to Whale Beach, Bondi to Bronte and The Fiji Swims