Jon Stokes: alumni profile
You graduated in 2001, what did you do after school and where are you now?
The first thing I did after leaving school was to take a gap year and travel to work at a hotel in Northern Japan. This was an amazing experience (and really challenging at times) as I was one of only 3 foreigners living in the northern region of Honshu. That year gave me a lot of self-confidence that I could make friends, work really hard and survive as an independent adult in any new environment. After returning to study Business at UTS in Sydney, I took another trip (this time as a Ski Instructor in Aspen with my CCGS school mate Michael Seton) which was just lots and lots of fun. Together, Mike and I bumped into lots of celebrities in Aspen but my personal highlight was meeting one of my High School idols, Jerry Seinfeld, in a Ski Boot Shop!
Although I would have loved to be a ski instructor forever, I returned home and built a career in business while working for Nestle and Coca-Cola . It was rewarding to work for big brands like Coca-Cola because I like seeing people enjoy our products in every part of the country, every day of the year. Also, big companies like this provide employees with lots of opportunities for personal development, travel and also support flexible work. Most recently, after leaving Coca-Cola in 2021, I've started my own consulting company (creatively named Jon Stokes Consulting) and I'm enjoying the challenges of small business ownership.
While building my career, I also met my wonderful wife (Jade – we worked together at Nestle) and, together, we're raising two boys (Sammy - 5yrs and Matty - 2yrs) in our little home (our "Castle") in Sydney. So nowadays we spend as much quality time as possible with our boys catching trains here there and everywhere, building cushion houses in the living room, riding bikes and scooters or bushwalking.
What is your proudest moment of your post school life?
While I'm proud of what I've achieved in my working life, I'm most proud of my role as a really active dad. Rather than prioritise my career at all costs, I chose to step back from full time work to focus on shared parenting over the last 5 years. This has allowed my wife Jade to maintain momentum in her medical career (which is more important than ever as we face COVID-19), and it has also given me priceless time at home with my boys before they start school and grow older.
What are you passionate about?
One cause that I’m really passionate about is “Shared Parenting” which has big benefits for mums, dads and kids alike. It is still much more common for women to step back from work to be the primary carer and manage the home. In fact, in families with children aged under 12, 40% of mothers work part-time compared to only 4% of fathers. So I think there is much more we can all do to support and encourage Dads to step back from their careers (even just temporarily) to share more of the parenting and domestic responsibilities. In my experience, this allows Dads to take a career break and build deeper relationships with their kids while also allowing Mums to thrive in their return to the workforce.
As more employers support parental leave for both mums and dads, I encourage all young dads to take the opportunity...its been one of the best decisions of my life!
What CCGS experience or achievement most prepared you for where you are today?
In the face of COVID-19, political and corporate buzz words like "Agility" and "Pivoting" are everywhere. As we face more uncertainty than ever, it is important that we can handle big changes in our lives and we have the confidence to thrive in whatever circumstances arise. With that in mind, rather than any single experience, I think the variety and breadth of experiences available at CCGS had the biggest impact on me.
While at school, I tried to be involved in as many different teams/groups as possible from Outward Bound, to Orchestra, Rugby, International Exchange, Debating and School Musicals. All of these experiences taught me such different skills and helped me build friendships with diverse people. This gives me confidence I can make the most of any situation...including lockdowns!
Tell us about your favourite CCGS memory?
There are so many…but I can’t go past Mr Gill’s History Class. I vividly remember when Mr Lornie (former Headmaster) walked passed the classroom Mr Gill dropped to the floor shouting “Quick…Get Down!” and hid under his desk before slowly reappearing wearing his WWI helmet like a soldier peering over the trenches in the Battle of the Somme!
What is one piece of advice you would give to your High School self?
"Work hard and chase your dreams...but don't get too hung up on exam results, job titles or money...life is about so much more!"