How to change careers: Liam’s story

Wondering how to change careers? Liam Mowbray has successfully reskilled – and you can too. Liam was a radiotherapist. Now he’s a vet and runs a cattle breeding operation with his wife. Reskilling into veterinary science has given this Charles Sturt University graduate the means to return to the land. Here’s Liam’s story.

Liam’s first career

Liam grew up on his family’s cattle property at Rainbow Flat, about 100km from Port Macquarie.

Liam Mowbray portrait infront of burnt bushland

“I always wanted to have a life on the land and knew I should be working with animals. But I didn’t have the marks out of high school to get into veterinary science.”

So Liam studied medical radiation science. He then worked full-time as a radiotherapist in a cancer institute in Coffs Harbour.

“I really enjoyed my job, and I gave it my all. I even presented a research project I was undertaking at a radiotherapy conference in New Zealand.”

“By no means did I dislike what I was doing. I was just searching for something else.”

How to change careers through reskilling

That ‘something else’ for Liam was getting back to the land. But how to change careers? Liam realised he needed to reskill.

“I knew I couldn’t just go out and buy large acreage without a career or financial backing.

“So I decided that a cattle veterinarian would be a good fit. It would mean I could offer a service, alongside my own pursuits as a producer. 

“I was accepted into Charles Sturt’s Bachelor of Veterinary Biology / Bachelor of Veterinary Science, based on the marks of my previous undergraduate degree.”

Liam loved the rural focus at Charles Sturt. And the strong communities built around rugby and the Wagga Wagga Veterinary Clinical Centre.

He also loved the opportunity to explore areas where his interests in veterinary and agriculture intersected. These included beef feedlotting, reproduction, nutrition and meat judging. In fact, Liam went on to do honours research in bovine respiratory disease in beef feedlots.

Bushfire devastation

On 11 November 2019, the Mowbray family property at Rainbow Flat was destroyed by bushfire. In addition to helping on the family farm, Liam and his wife run their own Angus breeding operation on the property.

Farmland burning

“Our fences, yards and pastures were left as a moonscape. Within 15 minutes the fire had moved from one end of the property to the other. And by that evening, the entire community of Rainbow Flat had been engulfed. Sadly, many lost their homes and livelihoods.”

Burnt farmland

The impact of the event was incredibly devastating for Liam’s family.

“Initially we spent nearly two weeks in isolation, without power, cut off from the rest of the world.

“Most of our attention was towards putting out smouldering fires, searching for lost cattle in neighbouring burnt scrubland, and frantically trying to stock-proof paddocks and holding yards.”

Rebuilding after the fire – with the help of Charles Sturt

Liam experienced the practical support of the Charles Sturt community at this incredibly difficult time. He was one of six recipients of a $5000 Charles Sturt Bushfire Scholarship. The scholarships provide short-term financial support for students facing hardship due to bushfires.

“We were already in a tough predicament because of the drought. Then the fire left us with large feed bills and the ongoing mental strain of feeding cattle twice a day. It’s difficult to articulate just how thankful and appreciative I am for the Charles Sturt Bushfire Scholarship.

“I spent the initial two months after the fires re-building fences, yards and feeding stock. Because of this I wasn’t working and had no income. To receive the scholarship was a huge relief. It allowed me to stay at home and help repair the devastation.”

Changing careers not a light-hearted decision

Changing careers wasn’t a light-hearted decision for Liam. Nor has it been an easy ride.

“I gave up a very comfortable career and the prospect of starting a family for several years.

“Studying vet science wasn’t the easiest endeavour. The study load is heavy and it takes up a lot of time. But you learn to organise yourself along the way – I became better for it.”

So was it worth it? Definitely!

Liam had job offers from several organisations when he finished his studies. He chose to work as a mixed practice veterinarian in Taree on the Mid North Coast of NSW. Liam’s just one of the reasons why the 2020/21 Good Universities Guide lists Charles Sturt as having the country’s highest graduate employment rate. That’s right, our grads get jobs faster than graduates from any other uni.

Reskilling as a vet has allowed Liam and his wife – along with baby boy Billy – to live close to family and build their cattle breeding operation. Liam has realised his dream of a life on the land, working with animals, while supporting his family.

“After six fantastic years studying in Wagga Wagga, I’m very excited to return to the community where I grew up and to give back in what ways I can.”

Life is short

Liam’s advice to others thinking about changing careers?

“Life is short, so you may as well have a crack.”

If you’ve been wondering how to change careers, find the course that will help you reskill. It’s time to have a crack!