Stephen Sander
Adviser | Blogger
Eccentric Contrarian*
(*since 1983)
Anti-communist political activist, dissident, deserter and defector, political refugee, kitchen hand, chef, waiter, restaurant manager, customer service officer, commercial lawyer, corporate counsel, knowledge professional, blogger, writer, editor, social media consultant, and equality, human rights and social justice advocate – my life and career in a single, and somewhat dramatic, sentence.

After escaping from communist Hungary in 1987, and spending a year in Austria as a political refugee, I arrived in Melbourne, Australia in June 1988. I became an Australian citizen in 1990, and now I hold dual Australian and European Union passports.

In Melbourne I worked as a kitchen hand first while I learned English. Later I was employed as a chef, a waiter, and eventually a restaurant manager. I moved to Sydney in 1992 and continued to work in the hospitality industry as a restaurant manager until 1994.

Someone once said that to follow the path that others have laid before you is a very reasonable course of action, therefore all progress is made by unreasonable [people].
Adam Savage

In 1994 I moved into a customer service role at one of the big four banks, before enrolling to study at university in 1996. I graduated with bachelor’s degrees in law and business, and went on to complete a graduate diploma of legal practice with high distinction.

During the past 15 years I worked with some of Australia’s best business leaders and legal minds as a trusted adviser, practising solicitor, in-house counsel, knowledge management professional, and social media consultant.

My experience extends across alternative and commercial dispute resolution, general commercial litigation, contractual negotiations and disputes, corporate and regulatory affairs, employment law, financial services, insolvency, insurance, and privacy.

I practice first principles thinking, and I have a strong track-record in establishing, resourcing and managing project teams, facilitating diverse views and expectations, and cutting through distractions and organisational roadblocks, to achieve successful business outcomes.

I also have an in-depth understanding of emerging media and technologies, and I am a proponent of strategic knowledge, project management, technology and, social media integration.

I am a consummate blogger and writer, a tireless human rights and social justice campaigner, an advocate for workplace diversity and inclusion, and a passionately creative personality.

Exploring opportunities

In 2016 I will be entering my 15th year with my firm. When I returned in 2007, after a period as in-house counsel at PricewaterhouseCoopers, I didn’t expect I would still be here a decade later. Together with my previous 5 years, first as a summer clerk and later as a graduate and a lawyer, this marks an association spanning over a decade and a half.

My latest near-decade period is a testament to my incredible colleagues, the quality, complexity and variety of the work, and the engaging and challenging environment which kept me happy and satisfied far longer than I ever anticipated.

Nevertheless, my desire to explore new opportunities is growing. Now feels like the right time to start planning for exciting, new career challenges. Consequently, I decided this year would likely be my last with the firm.

I look forward to my upcoming long service leave in early to mid-2017, after which it will be time for me to say farewell.

I don’t have definite plans about what I will do next. Over the coming 12 to 18 months I will explore what opportunities may be open to me, not just in Australia, but also in the European Union, in business, law, knowledge, education, government, the community sector, or otherwise, whether as an advisor or a consultant, or in a permanent executive position.

Given there are career paths now that didn’t even exist a decade ago, while other jobs and professions are slowly disappearing, this is an exciting time to keep an open mind and an agile attitude about my future.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.
Alvin Toffler

I am hoping to find a dynamic organisation, or group of people, to work with who are riding the wave of the realigning global economy, and leading by embracing modern business practices, diversity, social engagement, and technology.

My multidisciplinary education in law, business and marketing, practical cross-industry experience, understanding of social media and technology, curious mind, and hunger for new knowledge and skills would make me the perfect fit for such an environment.

If you recently went through a similar, planned career transition, I would love to hear about your experiences. If you are a recruitment professional or human resources executive interested in discussing possible opportunities, please let me know.