Q&A with Jamie Thurston Wyngaard – Steps to Career Success
Scouta had an inspiring 10min Q&A with Bettr‘s Chief Community Officer, Jamie Thurston Wyngaard. From sneaking into extra lectures to the importance of networking – we find out the secret sauce to his version of success.
Scouta: What and where did you study?
Jamie: I studied Biotechnology at UWC.
Scouta: What motivated you to study this?
Jamie: Oh, I was a nerd. I am a nerd.
In Biotech there aren’t many boundaries, you are literally on the forefront of science, where you can do anything. Every week something new happens in science. But, I also always used the opportunity to attend other lectures – I’d make a buddy with someone studying law or accounting and join them in their lectures.
Scouta: What was your first paying job?
Jamie: In high school, as a cook for a catering company. I like cooking. I didn’t really do it for the money, I did it because I wanted to learn how to cook.
I also got a job at university on campus as a student assistant and the computer & science department. I didn’t do it because I wanted to be an assistant I did it because I wanted to work for the university corporate, I wanted to get noticed by the institution.
Scouta: What was your worst job and what did you learn from it?
Jamie: I have never had a terrible job. I believe that everything I have done, and will do, I can learn from. I had an internship as an Assistant Microbiologist with a food & beverage company, it didn’t inspire me, but I left knowing more clearly what I did want to do.
Scouta: How did you end up in Bettr after studying Biotech?
Jamie: You don’t have to do and be what you are learning, university is more about networking and finding out about yourself. Learning from your degree and applying it to your life.
It might sound like a big jump to go from science to banking but the basis is solving problems.
My role at Bettr as Chief Community Officer is understanding what peoples’ actual needs are and solving those needs. And, if you take that back to science it’s basically the same. In my case, with Biotech, there is a lot of procedure and fact in science, testing 3 times to prove that it actually works.
Now how can I take that and apply that to business?
Applying this to business: Every challenge has a solution but how can I solve it?
Scouta: What has made you successful?
Jamie: Hard work. Networking.
There is a saying, ‘if you are the smartest person in your circle, change circles.’ You can learn more from other people: more skills, more networks, more growth and more opportunities. So, I say find those opportunities. If you are going to sit and do nothing you are going to be one of those people who graduate and say ‘oh, I can’t find a job.’ You need to work for that job, you need to put yourself out there for that job, you need to make yourself the person for that job. It’s a hugely competitive world, where everyone is the same as you. Unless you do something different. So, make yourself different. Make yourself indispensable.
From my side, I started doing whatever I could do that would help me and it shaped me into who I am today.
I’d rather do an unpaid internship and sacrifice the income for a year than work a lifetime being unsatisfied with work.
Scouta: Do you have any stand out work experiences that helped shape you?
Jamie: Teen entrepreneur. The big thing I learned there – don’t look at a problem as a problem, it’s an opportunity. That’s what we’ve done in Bettr, we’ve seen a problem in banking and we have turned it (the problem) into a business.
The other thing I learnt from Teen Entrepreneur, which I always think is super cool is ‘Copy, Paste and Adapt.’ This you can apply to your work and to your life.
Like, one example of how I have used this in my life is making food. I will look at the best chefs, what are they doing? And I duplicate that. If I can duplicate that dish, I’m on the same level. That’s the Copy and Paste. Then I can add my own flare. The Adapt part – and now I create even more things from what I have learnt.
In work, if I am inspired by Elon Musk or Richard Branson I will go and research what they have done and how they are doing it.
Scouta: Your top tips for success
Jamie: Number 1. Understand your strengths and weaknesses. And it’s OK to have weaknesses, it’s OK because you need to be able to identify them, so you can work on them.
Number 2. Work on your weaknesses. (He laughs).
Number 3. I would say network and find opportunities.
Number 4. Google is your friend. If you don’t know something, Google. If you’re in an argument, Google, you’ll either win or lose but you’ll learn something.
Number 5. If you know something – teach. Not in an arrogant way, but, actually, teaching helps you learn. When you start teaching you start doing more and learning more, you will get challenged. Put yourself out there. Make statements. Be bold.