After working as a travel agent for eleven years, Leigh decided it was time for a change and enrolled to study at the Carlton College of Sport.
Since joining the Carlton College of Sport through the mid-year intake in 2020 to study the Diploma of Sport Coaching and Development, Leigh Southern has already put his best foot forward in the sports industry.
Last year, Leigh made the courageous decision to change careers entirely to pursue a career in sport.
“I was a travel agent for eleven years. My last job was as a sports and entertainment travel manager, so all of my clients were in the sport and entertainment industry, which gave me the passion for working in high-performance sport,” Southern said.
As was the case for many people in the travel industry in 2020, Leigh was stood down from his job, which is when he decided to look for new opportunities.
“The main reason I decided to join the Carlton College of Sport is for the networking opportunities. I am older than some of the other students at age 33, and I have a bachelor’s degree already meaning I could have done a whole range of other post-graduate studies. But I decided that the opportunity to network within a football club was what I needed to do, so I joined Carlton College,” he said.
In addition to completing Semester 2 of his diploma at Carlton College this year, Leigh has also landed a full-time job in sport.
“I currently work for the Melbourne Stars as the Team Operations Manager for both the WBBL and BBL. I managed to get a contract with the Melbourne Renegades last year where I went up to the WBBL Hub for two months. While I was away, one of my contacts at the Melbourne Stars went on maternity leave and I decided to apply for the job,” he said.
“A highlight for me was being thrown straight in the deep and driving some of the players to training. I had Marcus Soinis, Glenn Maxwell and Adam Zampa in my car and I was just thinking how surreal it was that I was driving these cricket stars to training. I also love being able to walk around at the MCG and be involved in the high-performance environment.”
When asked how his time studying at the Carlton College of Sport has prepared him for his current role, Leigh came back to the networking opportunities.
“Being around the College and talking to guest lecturers and staff who work day-in and day-out in a high performance environment, and getting to have conversations that you usually wouldn’t get the opportunity to have definitely gave me an idea of what to expect walking into the job,” he said.
“Carlton College gave me the insight into what else goes on behind the scenes rather than just the travel, which is what I knew, and what you see on TV.”
For all of the people looking to get into the sports industry, Leigh’s advice is simple.
“Two words that I have learnt and thought about a lot in 2020 are networking and volunteering. Coming into Carlton College I’ve had fantastic networking opportunities and I’m looking forward to finishing the diploma and seeing what comes from the networking opportunities within the Club,” he said.
“In terms of volunteering, you might need to do a role that you don’t necessarily want to do initially, but you just need to take the opportunities when they come and get involved. The networks and friendships that will come out of it are unbelievable and it’s where my full-time job came from.”