It's hard to pick just one. We've had students go on to elite incubators like StartMate and others who have been employed at industry giants like Google, Atlassian, Cisco, Microsoft — and of course, The Hacker Exchange!
At the moment, I'm loving watching the journey of one returned student who has launched a space satellite startup, bent on helping the world manage global warming extreme weather events using prolific satellite data.
I adored going to Tel Aviv because it's not only an interesting startup hub but also a rare adventure.
Tel Aviv startup culture prizes resourcefulness, creativity, and global mindset as a result of Israel's relatively small population and geographic isolation from trade partners — which Australians can learn a lot from. They also tackle similar agricultural predicaments farming swathes of desert, so anyone interested in AgTech can really learn a lot there.
Israel also has more startups per capita than anywhere else in the world, so innovation is steeped in their psyche. You can literally have an educated conversation with a random person on the street about startups — and they'll probably be able to introduce you to someone relevant to what you're trying to achieve!
But to answer the question, I'd like to go on every program, because each destination has its own flavor and insights. Silicon Valley is next on my list as the startup mecca. I've been to San Fransisco before but never with inroads into the startup ecosystem.
Steve Jobs said, "Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower." The Hacker Exchange works in the beautiful space of bringing together different leaders and innovators, to guide them towards their goals at a formative stage of their progress. And who better to do this than a company that is effectively creating its own new genre of education — and enabling traditional tertiary education to tag along for the ride.
I'm proud of my team every time a returned student launches a new product or company or engages with the alumni community to pay it forward — because that is the culture HEX has created.
I believe the most important factor for successful companies in the 2020s is hiring great people — full of ideas and interests as well as skills — and harnessing their individual strengths. Give everyone enough support to achieve the company goals, but enough license to do it their own way and have a voice. With awesome people, this is the way to get the most out and give the most back, in terms of job satisfaction and contributing to a community purpose.