Alex Eggerking decided she wanted to be a lawyer when she was just 10 years old, but when she finally realised that ambition she found it wasn’t strictly law that captured her imagination.
In the early days of her career, while working at Herbert Smith Freehills, Alex worked in Mergers and Acquisitions and found herself fascinated by the business drivers behind big transactions. A notable deal she recalls was the Wilmar/First Pacific takeover of Goodman Fielder. “I was seeing up close how business worked and it really piqued my interest,” she recalls. “The business of negotiation, the key terms of the deal, working with the regulatory aspects, working with court procedures, running all of that for the client and bringing it all together. I really thrived on doing that.”
This interest extended to seeing how the business of the law firm itself worked. “That was also a really key learning for me going forward.”
Taking those tools and running with them, her life has since taken a very different direction. She is now an entrepreneurial journalist or, as her LinkedIn page describes it, a ‘media innovation consultant’. She says it’s a role that naturally conflates a number of her interests, which range from law to politics, media and business.
She began working in the industry after a move to the US three years ago with her husband. It was a pivotal time for Alex. “I had always had an interest in journalism and politics and originally had thought of being a media lawyer, but had chosen a more corporate role. When moving to New York I thought, ‘If I’m not going to be a lawyer, what other industries might I explore?’ I kept coming back to journalism and media,” she says.
“In retrospect I think I must have been crazy – changing countries, changing roles and changing industries all at the same time. But I backed myself to use the skills I developed as an Australian corporate lawyer and thrive in the fast-paced, new media world.”
It was, however, an extraordinary time to be in the US and work in media and politics. The 2016 election results certainly galvanised many working in those areas, although she says the initial experience was a shock to the system. She was on a bus back to New York as the results started to arrive.
“It was apparent that things were not working out the way everyone thought they would and it was deathly silent,” she recalls. “And then New York a day or two after the election was like a graveyard. People were walking around as if they were in grief.”
One of Alex’s other projects has genuinely contributed to her understanding of grief, but also the importance of people being in control of their own destiny and life decisions. She has been working to produce a documentary about Marieke Vervoort, the extraordinary Belgian athlete, who was a swimmer, basketballer, champion triathlete and world champion wheelchair racer, who won the Gold Medal at the 2012 London Paralympic Games. The film is not only about her sporting achievements, but also about her role as a spokesperson for euthanasia. Diagnosed at 14 with the incurable and degenerative disease, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, Vervoort ended her life in October this year, utilising Belgium’s liberal right to die legislation.
While Alex understands and supports Vervoort’s decision, she says, “It’s such a sad thing that she’s no longer here. The film feels more important than ever now, as her legacy.”
Outside of journalism and film production, while in the US Alex found her talents and interests could be used in multiple areas. After the presidential inauguration, she mostly worked as a consultant to independent media companies and start-ups, helping them to learn how to grow and be profitable, or design and launch new products.
She especially enjoyed the opportunity to merge her creative and business focused sides. One area she has become involved in is podcasts, taking on the marketing and business development director role at Out There, a hugely popular and successful outdoors podcast.
As a complete contrast and, one suspects, to give herself some respite from the cut and thrust of the tumultuous political and media landscape of the last few years, Alex also found herself moonlighting as a drummer in a punk band called The Voms. Yes, as in ‘vomit’.
“We played shows around the New York bar scene, which was very cool,” she says. “I did that up until I was about six months pregnant and then, for fairly obvious reasons, that stopped.”
With the new baby, Alex and her husband have recently moved back to Sydney to be close to family, and she is yet to discover if she’ll be able to sustain the career she began in the US now that she’s back home.
“As Americans would say, it’s a lot of ‘hustle’, it’s not always a regular pay cheque,” she says. “But if push comes to shove it’s important to me to work on projects that fire my mind and imagination, and that I find meaningful.”