He’s the son of one of Australia’s leading restructuring experts, but for James Mentha, following his father’s path into the world of business required some restructuring of his own.
Mr Mentha graduated from Bond University this week with his Bachelor of Commerce, the culmination of two years’ of study and a period of his life which saw the 21-year-old son of KordaMentha co-founder Mark Mentha take time out after high school to gain fresh perspective and face up to some harsh realities.
“I didn’t do very well from an academic perspective, I followed other things at school such as sport and leadership positions and didn’t provide the attention I should’ve to academic pursuits,” he said.
After travelling and working both in Australia and overseas, Mr Mentha found he was unable to move directly into his Bachelor’s program, instead beginning at Bond University College before starting work on his degree.
But even after achieving academic success, including being named valedictorian, Mr Mentha was this week forced to overcome another obstacle – COVID-19 border lockdowns meant he was unable to attend graduation in person, instead delivering his valedictorian speech via video link from his home in Melbourne.
“While it’s massively disappointing that I wasn’t able to be there in person, I think we need to take it for what it is. If I was to go to graduation in person I was only allowed to have three guests because of the restrictions and the risk the university has to manage, but now I’m home I can have my family all together here and we can celebrate accordingly, so there’s still definitely positives.”
He said Bond allowed him to fulfil his potential.
“I always felt that I was capable, but I didn’t have the right environment around me to make the most of my circumstances, that was the great thing about Bond, the environment attracts a certain type of person – while we all have different end points in mind, we all share an ambition and understanding of the value of hard work.”
Mr Mentha said his father had long been an inspiration to him.
“I’m fortunate to have a really great dad and he’s my hero in so many ways.
“Throughout my whole life he’s been a real figure of guidance for me, in so many other ways than just talking regarding business.
“While it probably wasn’t explicitly spoken about, I think the way dad’s journey has eventuated has really resonated with me in terms of the value of hard work and what that can achieve.
“His story, not necessarily just his advice, has been able to provide inspiration for my pursuits.”
From next month, Mr Mentha moves into a new full-time role at KordaMentha, as a business analyst within the organisation’s restructuring line.
He’s realistic about the expectations that come with his family name.
“There is of course going to be some expectation, I can’t control that…I have enough belief in my own ability and who I am as a person that regardless of that expectation, I will give my best – at the end of the day that’s all I can do.
“I’ll just put my best foot forward and make the most of the opportunity.”