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Why German

Careers & Testimonials

Why German - Careers & Testimonials

German Skills Open Doors Now and in the Future

It is hard to say if Australian Simone Young imagined herself conducting the Hamburg Philharmonic and being the General Manager of the Hamburg State Opera when she was learning German and asked to remember the gender of nouns.

We can't predict what we will do in the future, but we do know that we live in a plurilingual world, where speaking more than one language is the norm. Skills in negotiating meaning across cultures and world views are learnt in language classrooms. Skills in German access global opportunities.

Many students have benefited from learning German at school and beyond. It is a valuable skill to have in your portfolio.



SAGSE Scholarship

A unique opportunity only available for senior students of German.

The Society for Australian-German Student Exchange was founded in 1967 by Fritz von Einem Joosten, a former soldier in WWII, who migrated to Australia. Around 2000 Australian students (and the same in Germany) have benefited from the experience that began as a dream of Herr Fritz von Einem Joosten to make a difference to world peace. What a difference one person can make.

The Society is now a nationally registered Student Exchange Organisation (through the VRQA in Victoria) and changed its name to 'Scholarships for Australian-German Student Exchange' to highlight the generosity of sponsors.

In 2011, 17 scholarships were awarded at the 2011 Banquet: AGTV, Allens Arthur Robertson, Allianz, BASF, BMW Group Australia, Continental, GASS Victoria, Fischer Plastics, SAGSE Alumni VIC, Henkell Brothers, Mercedes Benz, Minova International, Remco, RMIT University, Robert Bosch, DB Schenker, Siemens.

Career Pathways for Past Recipients

A look at the careers of some of the Victorian recipients of SAGSE scholarships:

  • Alisson Ward, Vice President HR, Emirates Airlines Dubai
  • Alison Lewis, Professor, Languages Discipline Chair, University of Melbourne
  • Angus Canvin, former Secretariat to the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, European Parliament
  • Bruce Whittaker, Senior Partner in a Banking and Finance legal firm in Melbourne
  • Caroline Brothers, Journalist and Editor, International Herald Tribune (global edition of the New York Times) based in Paris
  • Andrew Holden, former Editor of The AGE newspaper in Melbourne, appointed in 2012 from a position he had in Christchurch, New Zealand.
  • David Holwell, Head of IT Business Relations at Siemens in Munich, Germany
  • Elaine Tarran, former Head of Languages, Scotch College, Melbourne
  • Elizabeth Hartland, Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Melbourne
  • Karen Steidle, Client Managing Director, Royal Dutch Shell account at IBM Corporation, currently based in London
  • Lee Traynor, Lecturer, Centre for Applied Linguistics, University of Hannover, Germany
  • Michael Kertesz, Molecular Microbial Ecologist, Associate Professor, University of Sydney
  • Michael Pearce, appointed first Honourary General Consul for the Federal Republic of Germany in Melbourne in 2012
  • Nicola Roxon, first woman Attorney General for Australia
  • Paul Grabowsky, Pianist and Composer
  • Peter Laussen, Cardiologist at the Boston Children’s Hospital USA.
  • Stephen Connelly, former Deputy Vice Chancellor International & Development, Vice-President, RMIT University
  • Toby Carrington, CFO Siemens Health Care Asia Pacific in Singapore
  • Wendy Davenport, former First Secretary at the Embassy in Berlin, now at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship in Canberra working in the International Policy Division as director of the Middle East, Asia and Trans-Atlantic section
  • Phillip Hopkins, currently a freelance journalist and former journalist for The Age has been chief sub-editor and news editor on the foreign desk, chief sub-editor and night editor on business, and Victorian business reporter. Philip has degrees in German, Russian and Politics and a Master of Arts in European Studies. 

List compiled in 2011 and updated May 2013

Australian German Association Goethe Educational Development Fellowship

Recipients of this generous research scholarship are drawn from across professions.

Other Learners and Users of German

The Arts

Robyn Archer is a singer, writer , director , Artistic Director and public advocate of the Arts is currently the the Creative Director of The Centenary of Canberra ( 2013) She was recently appointed as Adjunct Professor to the University of Canberra. Robyn is an Officer of the Order of Australia. In February 2011 she sang Brecht an his birthplace Augsburg at the Brecht Festival.

Simone Young is a conductor and currently General Manager and Music Director of the Hamburg State Opera, a position she has held since 2005 and her contract extended to 2015.

Australian World Orchestra inaugural concerts in 2011 included guest conductor Simone Young and many artists who live and work in German-speaking Europe. Certainly, they are all familiar with the German classical music and composers.


James Bradfield Moody learnt German and studied electrical engineering. He is General Manager of Government and International at Australia’s National Research Agency CSIRO and a regular judge on the ABC New Inventors program.


Sir Arvi Parbo AC - Born in Estonia in 1926, Arvi was a refugee in Germany after WWII. He attended the Clausthal Mining Academy in Germany before migrating to Australia in 1949.

Lindsay Fox is founder of the company Linfox, one of the largest Australian-based transport and warehousing groups with operations in 11 countries. The Linfox Group employs 16,000 people, operates 1.8 million square metres of warehousing, a fleet of more than 6,000 vehicles (incl. Mercedes Benz trucks) and carries out distribution operations for leading companies across the Asia-Pacific region. He headed the German-Australian Chamber of Commerce for six years. He was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia in 2008 and the Cross of the German Order of Merit February 2012.


Dave Tacon won the inaugural Walkley Award for Best Freelance Journalist of the Year in 2012

Journalism wasn’t the career he was planning when studying German and film theory in his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Melbourne, although he believes his education gave him important skills and discipline he would find valuable when his career started to take shape. His advice to students who would like to work towards an independent, flexible and global career is to take advantage of any opportunity the University offers them to study overseas.

Dave took his first step towards journalism when he travelled to Berlin for a student exchange placement at Freie Universitaet. He returned to Melbourne to complete his Honours thesis then went back to Germany as soon as he could to search for work.

He found employment in Road Movies studio run by acclaimed director and documentary maker Wim Wenders. While working in production offices and on set as a translator, he learned, mainly through trial, error and persistence, how to use a camera, which led to many international experiences and culminated in the award. Further info about Dave, click HERE.


Kate Allen, Olympic gold medalist in the triathlon in Athens 2004 grew up on a sheep farming property near Geelong. After training in nursing at Ballarat she traveled overseas and met her future Austrian husband. They married and Kate now holds dual Austrian-Australian citizenship, which means she learnt Austrian German. She retired in 2009 after a triathalon in Kitzbühel in Austria. Report

Will Minson, an AFL Western Bulldogs player, learnt German at school and is studying Civil Engineering at the University of Melbourne.


Howard Nicholas, Senior Lecturer in Language Education, Associate Dean (International), Bundoor Campus of La Trobe University. He has wide research and teaching experience in child and adult second language acquisition (German and English) and in the acquisition of German as a first language. He has researched extensively in the area of mobile technologies and education.


Michael George Clyne, AM, FAHA, FASA (12.10.1939 - 29.10.2010) was a leading scholar and an inspirational figure in many fields of linguistics, including sociolinguistics, pragmatics, bilingualism and multilingualism, second language learning, and intercultural communication. He was respected throughout the world and awarded many academic and civil honours: Foreign Member, Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences, Austrian Cross of Honour, German Cross of Merit, Centenary of Federation Medal, Inaugural Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Supervision Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Prize (international prize for German Studies), 1999, Alexander von Humboldt Research Prize 2003, Hon. Life member: Applied Linguistics Association of Australia, Australian Linguistic Society,  Modern Language Teachers Association of Victoria; Patron, Victorian School of Languages. Michael believed in the power of multilingualism to improve the human condition. He once wrote: “I am passionate about languages and giving everyone the opportunity to become multilingual and to fully understand the way in which language is used for good and evil purposes.”

See Why German: German for Your Future for further opportunities.

Please refer also to the German and Careers section on the Germanlinx website.





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