Lecturer Hires MBA Student To Take On His CEO Role

Simon Hammond and Will Slater now lead branding agency 50 Crates together.

A Swinburne lecturer has hired an entrepreneurial MBA student to replace him as CEO after a 12-week unit made him confident he had what it takes to lead his company day-to-day.

Entrepreneur Will Slater signed up to a Master of Business Administration (Executive) at Swinburne to open himself to new opportunities and has landed the job as CEO of branding agency 50 Crates.

Slater started in the role in July after connecting with 50 Crates founder Simon Hammond, who is also an Adjunct Professor at Swinburne and co-creator of the Branding and Creative Innovation unit in the Master of Marketing.

Slater spent ten years running his own businesses, completing a Graduate Diploma of Project Management and Graduate Certificate of Business Administration at Swinburne before his MBA (Executive).

“I really wanted to couple my practical skills with some more theory, knowledge and background for whatever the future might hold.” he said.

Slater said he was interested in Hammond’s views on applying psychology in a business setting and asked him to meet for a coffee to learn more.

‘We started having some conversations and discovered we were very aligned in the way we see business and life. There was an instant connection,” Slater said.

Coming to the end of his degree, Slater was on the lookout for his next work opportunity and said connecting with Hammond “was a pretty fortunate turn of events.”

Having spent a lot of time with postgraduate students for his 12-week unit, Hammond says he can assess their skills and suitability for a job better than in a traditional interview format.

After discussing past business endeavours and hopes for the future, Hammond knew Slater had what it takes to lead the company day-to-day.

‘When I met Will, that’s when I made the decision to step back from being CEO. I’m always looking and when I found him, I thought, “now’s the right time”.’

Hammond says he is ‘always on the lookout for the next great talent’ and appreciated the university’s focus on bringing people and technology together. Other alumni who have joined the 50 Crates team include junior designer Maddie Day, who graduated from the Bachelor of Design/Bachelor of Business, and strategic planner Millie Drysdale who graduated from Master of Marketing.

Slater is running the 50 Crates’ agency day to day and leading new business opportunities, strategy and product development.

50 Crates strategically supports organisations to help them discover why their brand matters in today’s society and how they can tell their story in an interesting, creative way. Slater is looking forward to incorporating a lecture theatre into 50 Crates’ new office to deliver education and training to their clients.

Will’s advice to other students looking for new opportunities is to be proactive by ‘taking a chance and putting yourself out there.’

‘I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some fantastic lecturers across my journey at Swinburne who have really helped my development. Going out of your way to build those relationships is the best way to identify new opportunities.’

Doug Estwick
Doug is an author for MBA News and Fixed Income News Australia. Doug has been a media and communications professional for more than 10 years, including working as an editor for News Corp's Quest Newspaper group.