Monash alumnus Rod Harris (BE 1969) is a successful engineer, adventurer, and athlete.
He was among the first group of students through the gates at Clayton campus and took to campus life with gusto.
He was very active in the Monash Bushwalking Club, forming many life-long friendships during the group’s bushwalking, rogaining, rock climbing and canoeing excursions. He even met his future wife through the group.
“My academic results improved from struggling in first year to mediocre in fourth year,” he said.
“However, the statute of limitations does allow me to confess, for the first time, that I was responsible for the giant yellow parking sticker placed on the East wall of the Menzies building in 1966!”
After graduation he worked as a design engineer with GangNail, a company that pioneered the prefabrication of roof trusses and wall framing.
“The company’s approach to prefabrication led to large savings in material time and labour but plant managers found it difficult to measure output,” he said.
“I developed a unit of production that is used world-wide to this day for costing and scheduling and to measure output and productivity.”
Rod was promoted to a succession of management roles within GangNail. His work took him to Kuala Lumpur, Belgium, the UK, Seattle and Miami.
His desire to return to Australia saw him take over as CEO of the company’s Australian operations.
After 17 years working in engineering, Rod changed career paths.
“I wanted to try something new. I had experience but no formal business qualification so completed a Certificate of Business Studies at Oxford,” he said.
“I became CEO of a subsidiary of National Consolidated. I then managed a steel mill and quarries in Sarawak, and worked as CEO of Kathmandu, the outdoor equipment retailer, preparing the company for public sale.”
Rod’s passion for adventure and outdoor sports has been a driving force in his life and he admits to mixing his career and travel whenever possible.
In 1971 Rod, along with his friends Ian (BE 1970) and Peter Richards, paddled south across Bass Strait – it was the first successful attempt to do so under human propulsion alone.
He went on to become an accomplished mountain runner, orienteer, rock climber, mountaineer, sailor and triathlete.
He retired he says “for the final time” in 2002 and continues to explore his love of gliding and paragliding as well as bushwalking in the Australian outback.
“The thing I have learnt in both, business and sport is that the difficulties that you anticipate and prepare for don't eventuate; it is the unconsidered that does the damage."