Ryan O’Hare headshot

Can you give us an overview of what you currently do?

I am CEO of Keypath Education Australia and Asia Pacific. In 2014, I decided to go out on my own and set up Keypath which is now one of the fastest growing online educational program management companies in Australia. It all started from the belief that busy working professionals needed greater access to quality online degrees from the world’s leading Universities, in order to prepare them for the future of work. And now, 7 years later we have become a $80m dollar business with over 250 members of staff. We also manage over 30,000 students from over 80 countries around the world.

How did you end up where you are today?

I have always had a passion for travelling. When I was studying for my degree at UU, I went on a placement year to France. I was placed in a secondary school in Marseille as an English language support teacher - as part of my degree included studying French. I think this is where my love for education also began. I loved the idea of making a difference and having an impact on young people’s lives. My entire career after this point has gone through different aspects of education and learning, some in corporate learning and others in universities, but always within the field of education.

Almost immediately after graduating I left Northern Ireland. I joined a graduate programme with Invest Northern Ireland called the ‘Explorers Programme’, which took me to France and from there the USA.

I then emigrated to Australia and took up a job with Pearson Australia Group as their National Learning Solutions Manager. I worked there for 5 great years and that gave me the belief that I could do this myself. So I left Pearson, bought myself a laptop and started searching for investors and partners to fund and establish my own business and that’s how I got to where I am today.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

One of my biggest achievements is of course my business, Keypath; I am very proud of and believe in what I do - which is supporting people to improve their lives and furthering their careers through education. Also, the fact that I can hire hundreds of people into my business from all over the world, giving them the opportunity to grow and providing them with an environment to do what they want to do.

However, my biggest achievement to date has to be my kids and family. When I arrived in Australia all those years ago, I only had a backpack with me. So, the fact I was able to build this life in Australia for myself and my family from nothing is something I am extremely proud of.

What are your top tips for students of UU, to get the most out of their time at university?

My top tips for students would be to get as much out of university life as you can. To avail of all the University has to offer you, to join as many extra clubs as possible. Some of it might not be for you, but everything’s worth trying. I’d also highly recommend picking up courses that take you out of your comfort zone. Being able to think outside the area you are studying is a skill that can really benefit you in your career. Skills such as: critical thinking, problem solving, teamwork, communications, languages and media are all highly valuable skills to have. It’s amazing how many people we interview who are technically competent, but don’t have the human-centred skills required to work in an organisation.

Also, if you get the chance to have a placement, take it! My placement year did two things for me – it got me into education, and it also started my love for wanting to get out and see the world. Put yourself out of your comfort zone and immerse yourself in as many things as possible.

What general advice would you give recent graduates?

My advice to recent graduates would be to start building your network immediately, and remember your university alumni network is certainly a great place to start. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there to find people who have similar or opposite interests to you, you never know when that connection can benefit you in your career.

Be constantly learning, be curious and don’t be afraid to ask questions. It is also important to be proactive and please don’t give up when people tell you no.

What are your plans for the future?

As we are now a public company there is lots for me to learn, so I am going back to study and to learn all about government and risks etc.

I gravitate to putting myself in challenging situations. So, I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I do know I will be doing something different in 5 years’ time, either in the role I am in, or a different role that’s challenging me again.