“15600. That is the number of hours spent at school from Kindergarten to Year 12. Coming to the end of this time is incalculably significant. While we boast many common experiences, it has been necessary to trace our own individual paths through the School, to fashion our memories and to improve upon our own skills and talents. Although we lament upon the fact that we can no longer build upon this path, we may be contented by the power of memory to connect with our former selves. For these lanes we have each forged will remain with us as we move ahead into the next phase of life”.

So said Zach Kitschke and Danielle Chiaverini as they took to the Illawarra Grammar Centre stage in September 2009 for their Year 12 graduation ceremony.

As School Captain of TIGS that year, Zach graduated to what seemed like a very traditional role in life with a cadetship at Wollongong City Council whilst undertaking a Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Communications degree at the University of Wollongong.

Since 2013, he has a very different purpose in life which he describes as “helping share the Canva story with the world. Canva makes graphic design amazingly simple for everyone, by bringing together a drag and drop design tool with a library of more than 1 million stock photographs, graphics and illustrations”.

As Head of Communications at Canva, he looks after marketing and PR, content, customer service, and partnerships. Continuing his love of writing, he also contributes regularly to Inc.com, Social Media Examiner and the Huffington Post. Since the launching in August 2013 of the business, Canva has had more than 2,000,000 users sign up to its online platform, and has been featured on Mashable, Forbes, TechCrunch, NBC, Sky News, PandoDaily and ABC News 24.

So what does work life look like for Zach? He says that he likes the fact that it is constantly evolving and changing. “I work across our marketing, communications, design, growth, customer service, and operations, so am often jumping in and out of different projects. My day-to-day can involve anything from working on an email campaign to our users, spending time on PR and talking with journalists, shaping marketing for new products, or figuring out how to pull the right people together to tackle new operational challenges.”

Zach recently returned to the Illawarra to speak at the Wollongong Small Business Club and was greeted by an enthusiastic group of TIGS students from Year 11 who, like Zach, are diversifying into the online platforms and digital hubs that are changing the way we communicate. He was very generous with his time and seeing him interact with the students really highlighted the way our lives are changing, even a regional city like Wollongong.

Now living in Sydney, Zach still keeps in contact with his friends from TIGS, such as fellow Captain Danielle Chiaverini, who studies law and international studies at USyd and Vice Captains Ben Morrell, undertaking PhD studies at NASA /MIT and Anna– Lisse Wale now Reid, who, as a young wife and mother, is now juggling post graduate studies at Moore College, Sydney to serve Jesus in Christian ministry.

And as for Zach, he is guest speaking to business owners in Wollongong and then flying to Manila to meet with some of the 100 staff now employed by Canva here in Sydney and overseas, a major growth since the early days when Zach was one of eight people in the start-up. He is certainly ‘moving ahead into the next phase of life’!