Embracing the journey

Alex Catalán Flores (BEc, LLB (Hons) ’16, GDipLegPrac ’17)
15 Oct 2022

My name is Alex Catalán Flores, I'm currently living in London and I work as head of operations for a non-profit start-up called Suvita

Suvita works to try and increase the uptake of child routine immunisations in India. There are around 19 million children in India who are not vaccinated against some of the most common preventable diseases. It really makes me feel special that my work contributes to making progress against that problem.

I studied a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Economics at ANU. Within my Bachelor of Laws, I specialised in a lot of international law subjects, such as advanced international law, and law of armed conflict. I also had the opportunity to go to Geneva to study law of international organisations and that was without a doubt my favourite memory from ANU.

In Geneva I visited institutions that work to solve some of the world's biggest problems and spoke with officials at places like the World Health Organisation and at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. That was a very special experience. It allowed me to think laterally about my own career and what I wanted to do with the knowledge and skills I gained at university.

My degree from ANU helped me get my first job at the ACT magistrates. But it also allowed me to go into management consulting which brought me to Ethiopia, and now London, working in operations.

My advice for future law students would be two-fold. One big thing that I recommend is to slow down. The point of the law degree is the journey, as cliché as that might sound. You want to make sure that you're enjoying what you're doing and that you're engaging with the content, with the professors, and the rest of the students in a way that you find fulfilling.

The second piece of advice I would give law students is to think about your degree in a different way. If you want to go into corporate law and have a bread-and-butter law job, do so - those problems are interesting and the work is very valuable. But if that doesn't set your heart on fire, if there's something about that work that makes you think, 'I don't know if that's for me,' then listen to that instinct. Think about how you can apply your degree in a different way. Maybe you can apply it to problems in the non-profit sector or you can go into entrepreneurship and found a start-up that is trying to disrupt some other sector. Think about how you can use the skills and the capabilities that you learned in your law degree and how you can apply those to different problems

One thing I'm often asked is whether I would change my degree, if I could go back in time. I've thought long and hard about it and the answer is always the same. I would do the exact same thing.

I think what is valuable about ANU is just how malleable you can make your degree, how much it allows you to do different things and the fact that you're not boxed into a particular career. It's about the way that you are taught to think laterally and, most importantly, think critically. That is something that I found incredibly valuable and I would not change a thing.

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