Jak Carroll - Surfing Studies at Southern Cross

When did you first start surfing?
I only started surfing 10 years ago when the course started. I came from a non-surfing background when the university decided to start this course so thought I’d better learn. My background was in sports management, which is what I was teaching before this course.  Then they started up this Diploma of Sports Management (surf studies) course, which was initially sports management focused on the surf industry so I took that over and I’ve been learning all I can about the surf industry over the past decade.

What do you love about surfing?
The ocean is meditative in a way, it’s away from all the e-mails and the hustle and bustle. It’s a simple pleasure. From a personal point of view I’m definitely happy that the uni started up the course, I probably wouldn’t have started surfing if not for this course.  So it’s something that’s definitely had an impact on my life. 

What is your favourite board?
I’m a long boarder, I’ve got an 8’6 Thruster board that does the job.

Have you done much surf travelling?
I’ve gone to the standard countries like Bali and Vanuatu, but nothing major. Who wouldn’t enjoy surfing overseas, my favourite spot is probably Sanur in Bali. It’s just a nice little reef break that’s reasonably gentle, I’m not going to get into much trouble there.

What type of education do you have?
I did a Sports studies degree at Canberra Uni back in the 80’s. They started the degree when the AIS got up and running so they wanted degrees in coaching and management for the elite athletes there. I worked in the Industry for a long time for lobby groups, The AIS, the academy of sport, and from there I came into the Uni system.

What does the Diploma of Sports management (surf studies) involve?
There’s 8 subjects and I cover 3 of them, we have other staff who have specialties in other areas that reach into the other subjects.
The course we do is a one year course that is good for people with business skills to take out into the surf industry, we do standard business stuff a lot of marketing and media, plus sports management, and business planning and we overlay that with surfing case studies and examples plus a couple of specific surfing units that look at surfing history and culture which is important to those going into the industry particularly from a marketing perspective to understand the background. We also have another unit focused on the construction of surfboards. Students also do a placement in the industry which is good experience for them plus they get to surf every week down at Surfing Australia’s High Performance Centre. The aim is that they come out of the course a better surfer than when they came in.

Are all the students competent surfers?
We get a mixture in terms of surfing ability, we get a lot of international students who are attracted to the course and may be snowboarders etc in their home countries. Then we’ll get some others who are quite competent. 

What do you love about your job?
At the moment I’m looking out my window and have a view of Kirra and Snapper so I cant complain about that. I can wear boardshorts to work and nobody raises an eyebrow. It’s an interesting industry with the people in it, I find the students aren’t your textbook academically inclined students but they’re very resourceful people who look at things a little bit differently and I learn a lot from them, especially the international students.

Do most student tend to move into jobs in the industry?
We get a mix, there’s 3 paths we tend to see them take, so a third of them will get jobs straight away in the industry, a third will go on to further study and the others who, being surfers, will go travelling and we don’t really know what they get up to.


What are your tips for getting a job in the industry?
There’s 2 things important to doing so, firstly, build a network of people in the industry and do a little bit of volunteer/intern work to get yourself known by those guys, and secondly you do need some qualifications and skills. The industry is calling for a level of professionalism these days, you need to have a skillset whether it be a marketing degree or an accounting degree or even our course.

Where can we find you online?

Web: Diploma of Sports Management (Surfing Studies)
LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/pub/jak-carroll/24/720/203


Posted by: Troy Roennfeldt, on September 11, 2013
Categories: Interviews