Catherine Shares Her Career Move to Japan and Back Again

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Catherine Paterson joined Protiviti Melbourne as a Consultant in 2006. She left Protiviti in 2008 to pursue a Masters in International Law from the UNSW Australia and upon earning her degree, returned to Protiviti in the Sydney office. In 2010, Catherine joined the Australian Trade Commission. At Austrade, she has held various positions, including a role based in Japan as the Consul and Trade Commissioner. She recently relocated back to Australia where she is the International Education Adviser at Austrade. Connect with Catherine on LinkedIn. 

Catherine launched her career with Protiviti Melbourne in 2006.

“I love talking about Protiviti because I benefited so much from my experience there. I look back at my time at Protiviti with such positivity. I’m in touch with my whole grad group and we all feel the same way in that we had really professional, world-class training that gave us key tools and skills – all of which I still use today.”

SONY DSCIn 2010, she joined the Australian Trade Commission where she’s been able to perform various roles within the organization.

“Austrade is a really interesting organization in that we do a number of things. We help Australian businesses, education institutions, tourism operators, governments and citizens as they develop international markets and promote international education; win productive foreign direct investment, strengthen our tourism industry and seek consular and passport services. We do this by generating market information and insight, promoting Australian capabilities, developing policy, making connections through an extensive global network of contacts, leveraging the badge of government offshore and providing advice and services. Depending on your interests and where your capabilities lie, there’s opportunity to move across different areas.”

When Catherine moved into the role of Consul and Trade Commissioner based in Osaka, Japan, she was fulfilling one of her biggest goals to live and work in Japan. She had been studying Japanese for over a decade and even spent a year living in Japan as an undergrad.  

“In Osaka, we were a team of 11 people and I was one of two Australians. Our office handled everything from trade, investment and education to consular duties, like assisting Australians with their passports, notarial documents and crisis planning for earthquakes and other natural disasters.

It was an interesting time to transfer there because Australia had been working on negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement with Japan for the previous seven years. Conclusion of negotiations of the Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) were announced in Tokyo while I was there. To see that conclude was a huge accomplishment for us. It was a real re-invigoration of our longstanding friendship and economic relationship with Japan. Following the agreement, we have continued to undertake a huge amount of promotion and outreach to our clients to make sure the agreement is being utilized.”

As Trade Commissioner, one of Catherine’s many responsibilities was increasing premium food and beverage trade between Japan and Australia through connecting Australian exporters with Japanese customers, including the high-end food service industry. 

“We are very well-connected in Japan in the food and beverage sector. The reputation of Australian food and beverage is already very well-regarded in Asia for its quality and counter-seasonal advantages. Through strategic long-term initiatives, we have positioned Australia as a reliable, long-term supplier of choice to meet Japanese demand for premium produce.”

After a couple years in Japan, Catherine was drawn to a role as the International Education Adviser for Austrade that would transfer her back to Australia.

“I knew we were developing a new major, long-term strategy in education and so I thought it would be an exciting place to get involved. There’s also been a lot of disruption in the education sector in terms of technological developments and the way education is delivered. MOOCs (massive open online courses), for example, have had a major impact on Australian education and with it, we’ve been seeing newfound opportunities.”

In her new role, Catherine helps promote Australian education both domestically and internationally.

“Australia is currently focused on undergoing an ‘ideas boom’ – an innovation agenda introduced by our Prime Minister to help create the modern, dynamic 21st century economy Australia needs. Our innovative capacity will depend on the talent and skills of our entrepreneurial, innovative people – which education, of course, features prominently. So we are working hard to support the international engagement strategies of our Australian education and training providers.

In my current role, I look after Australian clients based in the Australian state of Queensland. I’m also responsible for liaison with our Austrade education teams in Japan and the Middle East and Africa. We recently held an education event for the first time in Ghana and Nigeria where we had 17 Australian institutions recruit new students. We received a really great response – we saw over 2,000 students meet with our institutions and we’ll be doing it again next year. I’m excited to see what comes out of the program in the next two years.”

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