A native of Adelaide, Australia, Toni Nash has spent his life teaching in some of the least predictable but most rewarding places imaginable. From an Aboriginal outback community in central Australia, to Colombo in Sri Lanka, he is now Head of the High School at ISS International School in Singapore. Still active in charity work, he’s a strong believer that giving back ‘opens our eyes’ to the real world.
Q1: What was your first job?
I first started to work part-time at the age of 15 in the local supermarket. The job involved stacking shelves, mopping floors and packing grocery bags for customers. Basically, all the hack work that the full-time staff didn’t want to do.
Q2: How did you spend your first pay cheque?
I blew the whole lot on buying things I wanted and having a good time with my friends – all the things I could not do until I had my own money.
Q3: How valuable was the experience from your first job to your career?
My first teaching job was at an outpost school in central Australia, about 26 hours drive from my home city. The lifestyle was like camping out for a year, I learnt to go without a lot of things I had taken for granted in the city, like having a proper bathroom and electricity 24/7.
Q4: When recruiting, what makes a leading candidate stand out from the rest?
I look for a holistic teacher, someone that likes to get involved in the many aspects of the school’s life and has a positive outlook.
Q5: Do you believe volunteering is valuable to a professional career? Why?
Definitely! When I have taken students to places like Bangladesh to do work with the orphanages and “Habitat for Humanity”, it have been incredibly rewarding for myself and for the students. It opens our eyes to others we share the world with and gives us a sense of empathy with them.
Q6: Do you believe business has an obligation to “give back” to society?
I believe that all parts of the community should look for ways to give back to it – that’s what makes a community. Otherwise, we are just a group of people sharing some common areas without any positive interactions.
Q7: What do you believe is the best way to do so?
It can be done on many different levels and many companies have great things, like Jeans for Genes days, fun runs, funding kitchens for food preparation for homeless people.
Q8: What motivates you?
Change and new challenges, whether it is a new job in a new place or a different role within the same company. Once I have been doing a job for a while and feel that it is getting too easy and I have it mastered then I tend to look for some change. One of the things I love about teaching is the constant change.
Q9: How do you define success?
When I get up in the morning and really want to go and do my work, then I am successful.
Q10: Have you realised your childhood dream yet?
My dream as a kid was to race motocross bikes on the race circuit. While I rode bikes most of my life, it was not until I was in my twenties that I had the money to race properly on the state racing circuit. I loved it, and it taught me a lot about being the best you can be.