Adnan Khan

Bachelor of Arts in Media and Communications
Alumni

Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Media & Communications

Current Position: Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Stitch 

1. What attracted you to studying Arts & Social Sciences at UNSW?

I’ve always been inspired and impassioned by the evolution of storytelling. These days storytelling is influenced by not just society but also by technology and data. My studies have perfectly positioned me at the crossroads between new media and modern storytelling, as I completed a Bachelor of Arts in Media & Communications (majoring in New Media & Film).

2. Did you always have a clear idea of what you wanted to do after completing your degree?

Being a son of migrant parents growing up in the north-western suburbs of Sydney, I was destined for a safe profession (lawyer, accountant, doctor, or engineer). I went into my studies open-minded and really found my place. Little did I know I would then go on to work in advertising and tech (Microsoft) and end up joining one of the fastest-growing technology startups in history at the time (Facebook) in 2009.

3. How did your time at UNSW help shape who you are today?

UNSW is one of the few universities in Sydney that has a real campus, collegiate feel and environment. I made many friends there and had a great time socially while learning as well. From hanging out at the roundhouse watching stand-up comedy, to poli-sci debates, to O-week and more. I’ll always cherish the memories and experiences I’ve had during my time at UNSW.

4. How did studying Arts & Social Sciences at UNSW help you develop transferable skills?

Unlike other Media & Comms degrees, what I loved about the UNSW degree was that it had more of a focus on conceptuality, thinking and storytelling, versus just skills, technology and platforms.
I've had a varied career from working for big tech (Microsoft & Facebook) to ultimately founding my marketing technology consultancy Stitch. Through it, all the technology, platforms and skill sets have all changed, however, what has remained infinitely more valuable and transferrable is the conceptualisation of thoughts, ideas, strategy and the ability to tell stories that UNSW taught me.

5. How did studying Arts & Social Sciences at UNSW help form your view on the world and the contemporary issues we face today?

From the launch of Facebook to the disruption of traditional media and onto the evolution of virtual and augmented reality, the one constant I’ll always remember is the Marshall McLuhan quote my lecturer once gave me, which was “the medium is the message”. Any new invention or innovation in media and technology will bring a change of scale, or pace, or pattern, ultimately introducing new ways for human beings to interact with each other and brands, businesses and governments to either add value back to consumers and people or do the opposite. Now more than ever, this study is essential as we navigate this increasingly complex world and media & marketing landscape.

6. How did UNSW Arts & Social Sciences help prepare you for the workforce throughout your degree?

It prepared me for the fact that disruption is inevitable, and that to be ready for the future you need to disrupt yourself from within. My final thesis for my degree was looking at heuristic music recommendation engines such Last.fm (before a time when companies like Facebook or Spotify ever existed). Early on our lecturers encouraged critical thought and contemplating how mixed and new media changed consumption habits. We now live in a world where consumption of stories and content are dominated by algorithms (think Facebook, Netflix, Spotify and Amazon), during my time at Facebook I saw the user base grow from 100 million to 1.6 billion.

7. How did you get your foot in the door as a graduate, following the completion of your degree?

I undertook a paid internship in financial services public relations during my last six months in university; writing press releases for the likes of Macquarie Bank and other large financial institutions, followed by my proper job, producing and selling conferences. My first initial claim to fame was running Australia’s first-ever Word of Mouth Marketing summit (back in 2006 before it was a thing). I guess word of mouth marketing was the early precursor to social media marketing! 

8. What advice would you give to someone considering studying Arts at UNSW?

It’s rare that any career will follow a linear path. Your career will end up being more like a jungle gym than a ladder and that there are many different paths to grow and succeed in your professional endeavours. Everyone’s journey is different, so find what makes you wake up in the morning and gives you the drive and passion to succeed.

9. What is your most memorable experience from your time at UNSW?

The friends I made, other students, lecturers, international students from other parts of the world with different perspectives all added to the rich tapestry of what was my experience at UNSW. One of my most memorable experiences however was working on a documentary film project about Parkour, and that film received a standing ovation during its premiere!

10. Why do you Love What You Do?

Find your passion in life and make it your life's work to get better and succeed at it. For me, it was media and technology and how the two in combination have significantly impacted our world. If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life.