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Written By

Rachelle McCabe


College of Healthcare Sciences

Publish Date

15 March 2024

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Where can an Occupational Therapy degree take you?

Ryan Wynch was an occupational therapy patient as a child and again as a teenager following a workplace injury. These experiences with OT professionals sparked an interested in the profession, with Ryan completing a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy at JCU in 2008.

In Ryan Wynch’s case, his degree has taken him across the country and around the world. Ryan graduated with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) at JCU in 2008, and he is currently working as Global Occupational Health Manager at Google’s Ireland headquarters. And if that sounds impressive, you should read his resume.

Ryan is an JCU Outstanding Alumni and an inventor who has spent much of his career contributing to the occupational health and culture of a host of multi-national companies.

“Prior to Google, I worked in global roles for energy and pharmaceutical companies across several different countries,” Ryan says. “I’ve also worked in diamond mines, on gas platforms as well as in facilities involved in researching, developing and manufacturing Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines.”

Ryan says it was his own childhood and teen experiences receiving occupational therapy that put the career on his radar.

“I underwent OT assessments as a child for issues related to fine motor skills. In my late teens, I had a workplace injury that resulted in a workers compensation claim as well as injury management. This really drove my interest in the workplace side of OT,” he says.

Ryan Wynch.
A screenshot of the Google search engine.
Left: Ryan Wynch; Right: Google is the world's most popular search engine (supplied).

Ryan Wynch is a proud Google employee who has been working at it's Dublin Headquarters (supplied).

The pathway to Google and beyond

Despite his achievements, Ryan says his driving force is hard work, not ambition, and that has stood him in good stead.

“I didn't plan or aim to work for Google in my wildest dreams,” he says. “I am a big believer in hard work firstly, and secondly just being open to opportunity. I approach everything I do with an open mindset and typically say 'yes' probably more than I should.

“I don't believe I was ever the best or brightest in my year when I was studying at JCU, but I was determined to make the most out of life and my career, and that followed me to this day.”

Ryan says that when people move away from a fixed mindset and a plan for life, they might be surprised at where it takes them.

“You've got to position yourself in the centre of the action to reap the rewards. Sometimes it’s not so much about talent, its more about right time and right place,” he says. “The 'right place’ part you can control, timing is a little trickier.”

Being proactive about workplace health and safety

Ryan says his focus since graduating from JCU has always been workplace health, which can look different in different workplaces.

“There is a proactive and reactive part to that. I would say at the root of what I do, my work hasn't changed, but what has changed are the cultures, risk profiles, resources to dedicate to occupational health as well as perceived and actual health priorities,” he says.

“It's really my job as a global manager to find the right fit for the company, depending on all these various factors. I build a health strategy that fits the workplace and culture, it's a little bit of ‘cultural gut instinct meets data science’, with some quantifiable risk assessment thrown in.”

As for his time at JCU, Ryan says he had a fantastic experience studying and living on campus in Townsville. “I often look back on those years as some of the best of my young adult life,” he says.

“If you have a passion and interest in helping people and are looking for a career that could take you into many types of workplaces, then absolutely consider studying OT.”

Ryan says he picked up many useful skills while studying. “You are taught patient-centred practice, empathy, and listening skills. The number of times I have used some of these skills in a leadership team meeting during difficult conversations, or when I am working with one of our workers compensation insurers, has been incredible.”

For Ryan, the biggest plus for OT is that the degree opens doors. “Even if you have no interest in working in a traditional hospital setting, employers are very interested in your patient-centred skills and abilities,” he says.

Next up for Ryan is a relocation to Singapore later this year where he is looking forward to the warm climate and spicy food

Discover JCU Occupational Therapy

Gain the knowledge and skills to work as an occupational therapist.