South Australia is a beer loving state – so much so that the South Australian Government listed the Coopers Brewery as one of our Heritage icons. Established in 1862, the Cooper family has worked hard to serve the community - much like the University of Adelaide, which was founded just 12 years later. But it is not just our shared history that connects us. What may surprise many is how the University helped put the Doctor in Dr Tim's.
A self confessed accidental brewer, Dr Tim Cooper did not predict the journey that would lead him to his current role as Managing Director of Coopers Brewery. Whilst he was immersed in the family business from early childhood, even joining his father Bill on Saturdays to check the brew, entering the business was not a natural progression. There was no expectation that he would follow in his father’s footsteps. In fact, during the turbulent times of the 1970s, Bill encouraged his son to pursue a different career.
With a world of opportunity before him, Dr Cooper decided to forge a very different path, studying a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery at the University of Adelaide. After graduating in 1980, Dr Cooper set his sights on the United Kingdom, where he worked as a registrar in medicine and cardiology. His work could not have been further away, both in distance and detail, from the Coopers Brewery. Despite this, the Cooper tradition would ensure a strong link to South Australia, and in 1986 Dr Cooper was asked to consider a future with the brewery.
Torn between his profession and a chance to join the family business, Dr Cooper took a year off to study brewing science at Birmingham University. Although crowned top of his class, Dr Cooper wasn’t quite ready to give up medicine. So he earned himself a Doctor of Medicine for research in cardiopulmonary medicine – a qualification that would later inspire the naming of Dr Tim’s Traditional Ale beer range.
In 1990, Dr Cooper made the most difficult career decision he would face – he gave up medicine and finally returned home to face a new challenge.
"It was a very difficult decision to return. I was only two to three years away from completing my training and becoming a qualified cardiologist… For the first three or four years after joining Coopers, my wife Barbara and I wondered whether we had made the right decision, but everything appears to have turned out for the best," says Dr Cooper after his return to the company over 22 years ago.
To help him better understand his new set of ‘patients’, Dr Cooper returned to the University of Adelaide, and graduated with a Master of Business Administration. Since joining Coopers Brewery, the business has gone from strength to strength. From 1999, Tim oversaw the construction and design of the new brewery and headquarters at Regency Park. He also did South Australians proud in 2005, when he helped Coopers overcome a hostile takeover bid from an international label. This ensured the company remained solely Australian owned.
In 2008 Dr Cooper was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for service to the brewing industry, particularly through environmentally sustainable production and manufacturing practices, to professional organisations, and to the community. He has also been a source of inspiration for South Australians, demonstrating that it is never too late to take a different journey in life. In fact, it might just lead you home.
Through our teaching, our graduates, and groundbreaking research, the University of Adelaide positively impacts life around the world.