During my first uni orientation week, I sat in a room surrounded by 9 other over-achieving 17-year-olds. As the Director of Studies outlined his expectations of our scholarship cohort, I was a nervous wreck. The expectations were: maintaining a 7.0 GPA, 5-subject course load per semester, participation in international case competitions and involvement with every business student society on campus. To say I had a case of imposter syndrome would be an understatement. Am I smart enough to be in this room? Will I be able to handle the pressure? Is it too late to drop out?
Despite all of those thoughts, I did it.
3 ½ years of uni, 4 internships, 3 Australian competitions, 1 international competition, and 1 new student society later, I realised that despite my imposter syndrome, I was capable of meeting those expectations (other than the 7.0 GPA). QUT was definitely the place for me. Although I still get lost on campus, my last 3 ½ years went a little something like this…
Corporate Partners in Excellence (CPIE) Scholarship Program
My first glimpse at university was through the CPIE Scholarship Program. It was a pretty good deal – more than enough money to pay for your entire degree as well as 2 full-time internships at ASX100 firms.
I completed my first 15-week placement at the Bank of Queensland (BOQ) in their finance team. This was one of my first experiences in a corporate environment. As a fresh second year student, I had no clue which direction I wanted my career to go. But, the BOQ internship got me a small step closer to figuring it out (through the process of elimination). After a few weeks, I quickly realised working in finance wasn’t my cup-of-tea. I started to explore other areas within BOQ. Having built connections across the bank, I started working in the cyber security team as well as the treasury, lending and capital and balance sheet teams. This was a great way for me to gain a better understanding of how banks operated from a high-level and unlock more career options for myself.
My second CPIE placement was at Rio Tinto in their Procurement Team. Having only worked in banking and financial services, adapting to the mining industry was a steep learning curve. Luckily, I wasn’t alone! Two desks down from me sat another CPIE intern, Tony, who completed joint projects with me and became one of my close friends. Working in procurement provided the opportunity to perform incredibly unique and impactful work. My projects ranged from designing sourcing strategies for multi-million dollar commodities to creating Australia-wide internal transformation processes. My CPIE placements also helped me to land internships at KPMG and Macquarie Group.
Yes, these internships look great on paper. But, I took away a lot more than just a CV build. With the stress of full-time work, part-time study and 5-subject semesters in between, I learnt the importance of time management. With working across a variety of industries and teams, I learnt that I enjoy being challenged. With the expectation to succeed in the workplace and the classroom, I learnt how lucky I was to have our CPIE cohort for support.
180 Degrees Consulting QUT
In late 2018, myself and two friends founded a branch of 180 Degrees Consulting (180DC) at QUT. 180DC is the world’s largest consultancy for non-profits and social enterprises. We became part of the global 180DC brand and part of a network including over 35 countries and over 150 university branches worldwide.
At the time, consulting opportunities at QUT were limited. So, the concept of ‘management consulting’ was foreign to most students. With that in mind, the idea of creating unique opportunities for students, where they could work with real clients on real consulting projects, was super exciting.
If you’ve met me, you’d know that I could talk your ear off about 180DC. But in the interest of your sanity, here are a few key highlights:
- Managing an executive team of 15 students
- Overseeing 5 consulting projects for clients including Edmund Rice Foundation, Fifty-Six Creations and Nice Coffee Co
- Forming relationships with 5 different consulting firms
- Running the first ever 180DC case competition in Queensland, which attracted 35 teams and over 100 students
- Being finalists for the global 180DC awards in 2020 (fingers crossed we win!)
QUT International Case Competitions
At the start of 2019, I joined the QUT International Business Case Competition Team. I was involved with organising 2 iterations of the Australian Undergraduate Business Case Competition (AUBCC), and also managed to sneak in an international competition before the pandemic hit.
In week 12 of the semester, Emma, Nhi and I departed for Dubai (ideal timing, I know)! In only 2 ½ days, we checked off the Dubai Mall, the Burj Khalifa, a Virtual Reality Theme Park, a Desert Safari and catch-ups with QUT case comp alumni.
By day 3, it was finally time for what QUT actually sent us to Dubai for: a student showcase. QUT invited university delegates from the Middle East and South Asia to listen to Emma, Nhi and I talk about our QUT experiences. It was our job to convince them to encourage their international students to choose QUT (but, selling QUT is by no means difficult!)
The next leg of our trip had us travelling to the university town of Munster, Germany. We met up with our fourth teammate, Sally, to compete in the University of Munster Case Challenge (UMCC). We were lucky to have sightseeing time before the competition kicked off. We explored Wochenmarkt (the Munster markets) and the Schloss (the Munster castle), ate lots of great food and drank way too much German beer!
Finally, it was competition time: 12 international teams, 3 divisions, 2 cases. The opening ceremony detailed who we were up against: Technological University of Dublin, BI Norwegian Business School and Tampere University.
The first case was for Liba, a German soft-drink company. They were seeking recommendations on how they could differentiate and grow in the competitive soft-drink industry in a financially viable way. We had 4 hours to design our digital marketing and partnerships strategy, before pitching to a judging panel of consultants.
The final case was for DHL. The case required us to improve and assess the customer experience and service channels and to design a 10-year roadmap to the future of customer service. Our team had only 10 hours to design a future-ready strategy, which encompassed the utilisation of messenger bots, emerging IoT sensor technology and big data analytics.
All in all, it’s safe to say my last 3 ½ years have been action-packed. QUT provided me with a truly unique and memorable university experience. These opportunities are available to every QUT student – all you have to do is take them!