Jack Pead: Ivanhoe Grammar School (2006), Senior Business Development Manager
Posted: 03 August 2023
Jack Pead started at Ivanhoe Grammar School in Melbourne in Grade 5. He graduated in 2006 and in that year, served as Captain of School. Jack was deeply influenced by the philosophy of Ivanhoe which has been a part of Round Square since 1996. That philosophy, centred on character and experiential learning, has helped inform his worldview in the areas of adventure, the environment, and particularly his love of international and intercultural learning. This in turn has helped shape Jack’s personal and professional life.
During his high school years, Jack had the option of joining the RS club, the DofE club, the St. John’s Ambulance club, or the Cadets. He opted for the Cadets.
“I didn’t plan a military career, but I saw the Cadets as an interesting social learning experience. I was interested in how a group of people can work together to achieve something; how you can learn to trust each other and leverage each other’s strengths. I really enjoyed it and learned a lot.”
The choice of cadets is an early example of Jack seeking out new experiences that will help him to learn and understand more about the world; a characteristic that has become a recurrent theme in his life to date.
Jack tried kayaking in Grade 7 and soon became enthusiastic and skilled. He competed in whitewater slalom. One day he spoke to the teacher who ran the kayaking about the possibility of going on a Round Square exchange to a school in Western Canada where he would have the opportunity to challenge himself on some of the world’s most exciting rivers, and perhaps even complete the Canadian Whitewater Training Course. However, Jack would be offered a challenge of a different kind. His teachers came back to him with an alternative.
“They told me that they had found this great exchange with Stanford Lake College in South Africa. It took me a while to get my head around that as it was so different to my Canadian dreams, but I trusted their judgement and in the third term of 2004, I boarded the plane for Johannesburg where I was picked up by my exchange family and drove north for several hours into Limpopo Province.”
Jack had only travelled outside of Australia once before, to New Zealand, which was culturally familiar, so this new experience was eye-opening and encouraged his lifelong curiosity about intercultural learning.
“I think Stanford Lake College had been founded in 1998 and it was one of the very few mixed-race schools in the country. It was amazing to see how the students got along. They were aware of the history and politics involved but at the same time they were just young people growing up and enjoying each other’s company.”
Jack threw himself into everything that was available. It was a profound cultural experience and opened Jack’s eyes to the possibilities of learning from different cultures. He also came to love the countryside around the school.
“In 2007 I started university. This was at the height of the so called “War on Terror.” There was a focus on what was being called a clash of civilizations between the Muslim and Western worlds. I wanted to understand more, so I took Islamic Studies as part of my arts degree and then decided to major in Arabic.”
Graduating from university, Jack started working in finance, but it soon became rather stale. Perhaps as a result of the service work that Jack had undertaken at Ivanhoe, he told his employers he was resigning to look for service work in Lebanon with Syrian refugees. The firm didn’t want to lose him, so they suggested a posting to Saudi Arabia and Jack accepted.
“Ex-pats tend to hang around together in Saudi Arabia, but I could speak Arabic and I was curious to understand and appreciate the culture beyond the often-negative Western stereotypes. I became close friends with one Saudi fellow at work and he invited me to join his circle of friends. In Saudi Arabia, as in most Gulf states, a young group of men will typically rent an apartment where they will hang out, it’s almost like a club. It’s called an istiraha and they’ll smoke, play cards, watch soccer games, and just talk about the state of the world. I became fully integrated into this group of young friends and they even took me to clothing stores to buy the appropriate robes. They really wanted me to be one of the gang. The whole apartment building would consist of men’s istirahas. The women would have their own building across the street.”
Jack wholeheartedly embraced his new environment indicating again, his developing international mindset.
Jack was the only Westerner in the office of the investment bank, this combined with his Arabic proficiency, meant that he was exposed to a much higher level of the business than normal for someone his age. His experience and interest in international learning led to him moving to the US and enrolling in a master’s degree in public policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. While in Boston, he met his wife Daniela who is from Mexico and currently working on a PhD in gender, peace and security focusing on the way that women’s groups are providing the most effective political opposition in Latin America.
Jack’s interest in the environment was nurtured by his parents.
“I remember going to climate rallies in Melbourne with my mum in the early 2000s. So, when I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I was attracted to join the consulting and investment firm Lazard because they were advising the Australian government on implementing a carbon tax. Later, the focus of my master’s in public policy was the environment. I worked with a US federal agency called Bonneville Power which basically manages all the hydroelectric installations in the northwest of the US. We looked at how to redesign the electricity market to make it possible to integrate more renewable sources. For example, we studied the way that hydropower could be used to fill the gap when calm weather meant that wind turbines couldn’t operate.”
Upon Jack’s graduation from Harvard, he and Daniela found that their relationship was blossoming. Jack needed to find a job if he was to stay in the US and signed up with a New York investment fund where his focus was developing solar power projects in Chile. From there Jack joined the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade where he became the de facto chief of staff to the Consul General in New York. Moving in these circles, Jack got to meet the Governors of various US states and several of the big names on Wall Street.
Jack moved back to Australia with Daniela at the end of 2022. Jack is now working with an energy company called Engie which is focused on batteries and energy storage.
The love of the environment encouraged by his parents and nurtured in the beautiful countryside during his exchange at Stanford Lake College continues to inform Jack’s personal and professional life.
Asked what advice he would have for students today; Jack echoes the teachings of Kurt Hahn.
“I would encourage everyone to do something that takes you out of your comfort zone and just give it a go. Going into the unknown can be scary but it comes with its own built-in benefits. You get rewarded for overcoming that apprehension.”