In her first year at university, Bridget Lansell decided she wanted to take a risk and change the direction she was taking with her career.
From studying Science at Melbourne University, the 2017 graduate switched to Monash University to take up a Bachelor of IT and Business — a decision that has set her on a new path with renewed enthusiasm.
As part of her studies, Bridget has joined Monash’s 24-week entrepreneurship program called Fastrack, where she is creating an impact in the local environment through a company called Wonki.
The self-proclaimed “adventure enthusiast” took a break from her studies and startup company to feature in our Alumnae Spotlight series.
Bridget talks about why she made a change at university, the Monash Fastrack program and Wonki, and some advice for the community.
What are you studying at university, and what made you choose this course?
I am currently completing my last year of IT and Business at Monash University, majoring in Software Development and International Business. After finishing Year 12, I had no idea what I wanted to study, let alone what field of work or industry interested me. I knew that I loved maths and science, but I also loved being creative and working on different projects. I never had a female role model in IT, so it never crossed my mind to study it at university. However, after disliking my first year at Melbourne University, studying Science, I decided to take a risk and change to a Bachelor of IT and Business at Monash University. Looking back, changing courses was the best decision!
I highly recommend spending time investigating and finding role models in the space you are interested in…
It is all too common to view university as another qualification to tick off after school. I highly recommend spending time investigating and finding role models in the space you are interested in to ensure the university is an extension of yourself and find what you are passionate about. Even if you can’t find role models like me, trust your gut and take a chance.
Tell us about the Fastrack program at Monash University.
Fastrack is a globally recognised entrepreneurship and innovation start-up program where Monash University students from cross-disciplinary teams solve real-world challenges. The program has amazing support from industry leaders such as Amazon Web Services, Shadowboxer, SuperSeed and many more.
I luckily stumbled across the Fastrack program after completing a unit in entrepreneurship as an elective. Entrepreneurship and the start-up community immediately drew me in, enabling me to discover a passion I never knew existed, as it allowed me to make an impact and solve real issues. I love the nature of entrepreneurship as I can wear multiple hats every day and have a voice in many aspects of the fast-paced and unpredictable nature of start-ups.
Over the 24-week program, my co-founders and I have dived deep into the problem space of food waste, speaking to farmers, key industry leaders in agriculture and customers to figure out how we can contribute to this vast food waste problem we face here in Australia. Our solution is Wonki, which we are very excited to launch soon. Wonki is giving Aussies sustainable products made from revived, wonky and imperfect produce. At Wonki, we want to see a world where food waste is a concept of the past, and we are so excited to be doing our part in creating a circular economy. Last week, the team participated in our first pitch night event for StartUp Victoria for Inspiring Young Founders. At this event, I conquered my fears of public speaking, which was a massive personal achievement.
The Fastrack program has been a very pivotal moment in my life. After so much time in lockdown, I constantly felt like I had no direction or passion in life. Fastrack has opened so many doors, and every day I am so grateful and excited to see where Wonki takes me. If you are completing a degree at Monash or thinking of applying, I could not recommend Fastrack more. It is open to all degrees and is a breath of fresh air and a new way of learning that has provided me with confidence, connections, and immeasurable personal growth.
You’re very busy taking part in programs, studying and working part-time. How do you manage your time?
My friends and family would laugh at me if I told the community I was good at managing my time. Time management is an extremely difficult skill to master and one that I have struggled with since leaving school. We live in a world with constant distractions, and it is hard to focus on one thing at a time; no one is perfect. However, one tip I have learned from a mentor that has helped me enormously with my time and energy is completing regular check-ins with myself.
I have discovered the importance of checking in with yourself and ensuring that your activities and work align with your values so they fuel your drive and energy.
When comparing my courses and subjects, I have discovered it is easier to manage your time when you are passionate about your work and doing things that you are genuinely interested in. Take time to work out your foundations and pillars, which help you assess decisions in your life. A great framework for this is Personal Strap Map thinking.
What advice do you have for anyone interested in Entrepreneurship and Innovation programs?
Start being curious about the space. There are so many amazing organisations in Melbourne and Australia that are helping students become a part of the start-up ecosystem. My first recommendation would be to investigate Startmate. I participated in a student fellowship this past winter which connects you with industry leaders and provides amazing insights into the community.
Another amazing organisation is HEX, which helps students unlock their potential through fun innovation. My inbox is open to anyone who would love to have a chat about the space, so please reach out.
What do you know now that you wish you knew during your time at MGGS?
I would love to stress to every student to use your time at school to explore and be curious about different interests, passions, and industries. Melbourne Girls Grammar provides its students with so many opportunities that can be easily overlooked.
Looking back at my time at MGGS, I wish I had taken more risks and talked to more people within different industries.
Melbourne Girls Grammar has an incredibly supportive community; once you have left, there will not always be someone there to help you. School is the perfect time to take a chance, and I would give anything to go back and learn to code at school, just to create a level playing field. It is my one regret, so please learn to code and push to create a community at school to help each other if it doesn’t already exist.
What are your plans for 2022 and beyond?
In 2022, the plan is to release our first product at Wonki. We are so excited to take our community on a Wonki ride. Please feel free to check out www.wonki.com.au or find us on Instagram (@wonki.au). Additionally, if you are in the space, we would love to hear from you, so please reach out.
University has been a long and difficult ride; with so much time in lockdown, I am very excited to be doing a long stint overseas, travelling to America and Europe. I love travelling, and it was heartbreaking to miss out over the past few years, as travelling is such an important way to question what you have learnt at university and be independent.