At 16 years old Jeffrey Loy left school to work at the railways. Now, 32 years later, he is one of the NSW Police Force's most senior officers and winner of UQ Business School's Director's Award for Leadership.
Detective Chief Superintendent Jeffrey Loy, who will graduate with an MBA this month, was one of ten outstanding students recognised at the annual Top MBA Awards evening held at Brisbane Customs House recently.
Detective Ch Supt Loy joined the Police Force when he was 21 after being inspired by lyrics from 80s hit "Echo Beach".
"They were having a recruitment drive and I had a few friends that I played football with that were joining up and basically I was thinking of that line 'my job is very boring I'm an office clerk' and knew I wanted a job that was a bit more exciting," Detective Ch Supt Loy said.
And it seems the thin blue line didn't disappoint.
From a lowly Constable walking the beat in Sydney's The Rocks, 48-year-old Detective Ch Supt Loy has risen steadily through the ranks.
In 1984 he was awarded the bronze metal for bravery (Royal Humane Society) and the Commissioner's Commendation for Bravery for using a nail-file to rescue a man from a burning car while off-duty.
Then there were the stints in drug and homicide squads in Newcastle, the major crime squad in Tweed Heads, working with the Aboriginal community in Nowra and Batemans Bay and taking on the culturally diverse command of Campsie in Sydney's inner west.
"Working at the Olympics in 2000 was very special - there was such a spirit in Sydney at the time - but the Christmas bushfires in Nowra (2001) were also a highlight for me. They started on Christmas day and went for days. I was in charge of the police operation and not one life was lost, I think that is pretty good," Detective Ch Supt Loy said.
Indeed, his job has seen him take on a variety of leadership roles both within the police force and within the broader communities in which he has lived and worked.
However, it was in 2002 while a Detective Inspector in Nowra - where he helped instigate a number of community youth education and employment programs - that he decided to undertake formal tertiary education and begin an MBA at UQBS.
"In Nowra I was always thinking about doing something at Uni, just for myself, and through a job I got talking to a bloke who said I would be a good candidate for an MBA program, so I started to look into it," he said.
He discovered that most Universities only offered online or weeknight classes, but UQBS allowed him the option of attending classes on weekends (two weekends per subject) which best suited his schedule.
Detective Ch Supt Loy, who now lives in Cronulla with his wife and three teenage sons, said the regular flights back and forth between Sydney and Brisbane over six years were "hard yards", but worth it in the end.
"The benefit of the MBA for me was two-fold, it certified some of skills I already had but also broadened my skill base, particularly in terms of research," he said. "Being a detective research is what I do, but this is a different way of looking at things and a broader range of resources. It has also helped me in my written communications.
"In terms of leadership the program was, for me, about self awareness. I think perceptions and being aware of perceptions are an important part of leadership. We judge people all the time but sometime we don't check ourselves."