ANU alumnus Torben Sko is the Chief Technology Officer for the Sam Prince Group, a suite of companies that range from restaurants to a charity to an organisation that is redefining healthcare practice.
Torben completed his Bachelor of Software Engineering (Honours) in 2007 and received his PhD from the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science in 2013. Today, he credits the holistic approach to education at ANU with setting him apart in his career.
“ANU gives you a broad set of skills to analyse and break down a problem. So within software, you appreciate all aspects of design, architecture, implementation choices and their wider impact.”
“As it’s the leading university in Australia, I take a lot of pride in what it is to be a former ANU student. It’s less about the right three letters on your CV and more about the values the university embodies. It offers a more principle-driven approach that I identify with.”
While studying at Lake Tuggeranong College in Canberra, Torben’s passion for film special effects led him to the Software Engineering program at ANU.
“I appreciated the flexibility to do something completely outside the box in a program that was still quite structured, allowing me to scratch the special effects itch at the same time as focusing heavily on software.”
“All the project work was particularly good. In third year we built out a content management system for the National Centre for Indigenous Studies. It was great in that it was a break from the formalities of the traditional lecture structure.”
The PhD started as an exploratory exercise, but early on Torben and his supervisor wrote a research paper that was accepted for a conference.
“The great thing about doing a PhD is that you get to pick something you’re really fascinated in and spend some real time on it. Once you’re in industry that’s not necessarily a privilege you get.”
Early in his career, Torben was involved in a number of start-ups with varying degrees of success. Torben encourages recent graduates to lean into the scary and the unknown as their efforts could well turn into something positive down the track.
“You’re not going to be an expert right off the bat.”
Participating in a Hackathon during his studies opened doors for Torben when the Sam Prince Group went looking for someone to develop a 3D rendition of the human genome. This led to work with a number of companies within the Group and his current role that sits across the entire portfolio.
“It’s hard to predict where you’ll be in 10 years but it’s obvious where the world is going: it’s going towards technology. Technology is permeating everything we do in life. There’s not a part of our lives that isn’t influenced by technology and engineering. So, set yourself up with a career that gives you a front door to any other discipline as well.”