20 November 2017

My Master of Professional Accounting experience

Name: Siyi Lu (Christina)
Degree and Major: Master of Professional Accounting (MPA)

Why you choose master of professional accounting?
This is my last semester. Studying master of professional accounting is one of the best decisions I’ve made. It has changed my life and my thinking. Interestingly, studying MPA was not in my plans before I came to Australia. I did not perform well in my fundamental accounting unit in my undergraduate, and this held me back from choosing to study accounting. But luckily, a few days before the course application deadline, a friend I met in Sydney told me ‘You can do it.' After my friend’s encouraging words, I changed to MPA. Thinking back, I knew I wanted to challenge myself and I knew I couldn’t let my past experiences stop me from pursuing this new and exciting opportunity.

In my first semester, I worked very hard - I completed the self-study questions, attended the workshops, PASS sessions and consultation. I recommend you attend consultations, the lecturers and tutors were very helpful and took the effort to explain the problems until I fully understood. The more consultations I went to, the more interesting I found learning the content. I am thankful to my lecturers and tutors who fueled my interest in learning the MPA units. I also helped my peers to answer accounting questions which boosted my confidence and gave me the motivation to study harder.

What do you learn in this journey?
Critical thinking skills. Before beginning this degree, I tended to follow other people’s opinion instead of voicing my own. I remember my lecturer telling me ‘You have to have your own opinion.’ Most of my essay assignments required critical thinking to evaluate the impact of different accounting policies. Although it was challenging it was interesting because I had to think critically whether the accounting treatment represented a true and fair view in the financials. Now, when I read a news-piece, I naturally start to analyze the content and ask myself ‘what is my opinion?’

What campus life and study advice do you give master of professional accounting students?
1. Don’t forget to give back to the community and use the university resources

Helping others makes me happy. I love volunteering. I joined the university’s V-team and helped out with USU’s amazing programs which developed my leadership, teamwork and communication skills. The Lucy Mentoring, Business Alumni Mentoring and Industry Placement Program, open to postgraduate students, would aid your professional development. I recommend your regularly check CEO’s announcement and Student News to avoid missing any important events. The MPA is only 2 years so it’s important you make good use of the university’s resources.

2. Attend networking events to build your professional profile.

Learning in the classroom is not enough. What is important is knowing how to apply what you’ve learnt in the classroom in a workplace setting. I attended many professional networking events such as EY Future Female Leader Breakfast, International Women’s Day Breakfast, ‘Be...an Auditor’ workshop presented by KPMG. By talking to professionals in the accounting industry it gave me a better understanding and insight into what I wanted my accounting career pathway to look like.

3. Make a to-do list.

A daily to-do list helped me to manage my workload when I had multiple assignments due within a week. It also ensured I had time to continue to participate in extra-curricular activities may it be volunteering or attending professional networking events.

4. Plan your final exam revision early.

I begin my final exam 2 weeks to 3 weeks prior to stuvac. By reviewing content I’ve learnt earlier in the semester meant I still get enough sleep and maintain a healthy lifestyle when exams come around. I recommend you attend consultation prior to stuvac so you have sufficient time to ask your lecturers and tutors any questions you have.

5. Participate in class discussion actively.

To be an active learner is very rewarding. I love participating in the class discussions. Why? Discussing questions with lecturers, tutors, and peers is an opportunity to practice my English and build on my critical thinking and communication skills. I find the more I participate in class discussions, the better I understand the content and so the better I perform in that unit.

Lucy Mentoring Program experience

Name: Siyi Lu (Christina)
Degree: Master of Professional Accounting (MPA)
Placement: HLB Mann Judd

Why did you choose the Lucy mentoring program?

Before I came to Australia, I did research about opportunities on the Business School’s website and found the Lucy Mentoring Program! I told myself “I must join this program”. As an international student, without permanent residency (PR), I realised it could be an obstacle to securing an internship. The Lucy Program not only provided a professional networking opportunity but work-based experience in Australia.

What sort of work-based experience did you undertake during the program?

My work-based experience was fantastic. I worked in HLB Mann Judd, an accounting firm in Sydney. I gained work experience in Tax, Audit and Corporate Advisory. I am grateful I had this opportunity as having just completed my Taxation and Auditing units, I was then able to apply this knowledge and gain industry experience.

I worked with the Corporate Advisory team, where I helped them interpret Chinese financial statement and related documents. I realised as an international student, that being bilingual adds value to the firm. I also helped with research and analysis on merger and acquisition, an area I hadn’t thought about previously.

In the audit team, I helped to conduct audit planning using auditing software. Also, I had a chance to visit clients and undertake substantive testing. I applied what I learnt from the auditor training session with my accounting knowledge to generate the annual report.

In the tax team, I helped with researching the employee share scheme and presented my findings to my tax partner. I also attended an individual tax return training session.

On top of the work, the firm had many interesting activities happening. I attended the audit pre-busy party, netball competition, and morning tea session. It was a great opportunity to immerse myself in the Australian work environment.

What challenges did you face in the program?
The challenge was that I wanted to undertake greater responsibilities and tasks but at this point in time I lacked the experience and skills to do so. From this program, I decided the next step of my career development would be to gain the Chartered Accountant (CA) qualification. In the first few days of the work-based experience I asked myself “how do I grow and develop my work relationships and adjust my work ethics to fit with the firm’s culture?” I decided that if I continued to be friendly, be eager and willing to help, listen to instructions carefully and ask questions, that I would be fine.

What did you learn from the Lucy mentoring program?
I am so grateful that Mariana is my mentor. Mariana is a great leader and is always very energetic. She took me to the NSW Tax Institution and shared her experience when she chaired the board meeting. Mariana has worked in HLB for 17 years and has volunteered in the tax institution for nearly 10 years. What inspired me is not just her ability to contribute to her firm but her willingness to give back to the community. Mariana taught me to never stop learning and how important this is in career development. Mariana inspires me to continue to learn and grow my knowledge.

I was lucky to join mysoundingboard, a program of HLB, which empowers business women. I followed these business women in LinkedIn, and came across a post about a woman who works in trademarking and was helping an African refugee to launch her startup - one of the members of mysoundingboard replied to her post “If you need any help, just tell us”. To see people use their expertise to help those in need, instantly gave me a smile.

This is my last semester, I am curious to see what my career will look like. I need to get my CA and want to learn more from this qualification. I know I’ll face obstacles but that’s okay because it’s all a part of the learning process. What is more important is that I have a positive mindset and find ways to overcome failures. Before this opportunity comes, I must prepare well. I hope in the future that I am able to use my experiences to mentor and empower women to pursue their career goals.

What advice do you give students who want to apply for Lucy mentoring program?
1. Take note of the application deadline and mark it in your calendar.

2. Do an action plan. I checked the Lucy Program a semester before applications opened and formed a set of action points. For the program I needed a credit average or above, demonstrate leadership potential and effective communication skills. So, I attended on-campus volunteer activities and took on leadership roles voluntarily in group assignments and events.

3. Help others in the work-based activities. By helping others, I gained support from my colleague. I had a chance to have a meal with the audit manager who has worked as an auditor for 10 years. It was great to talk to professionals because it gave me direction of what my next step is and how to best present myself in a professional setting.

13 November 2017

Student Feeds: the solution to every poor hungry student!

Are you the typical embodiment of a struggling uni student?
Are you constantly swamped with uni, work and a social life that you don’t have time to cook?
Did you just spend $20 on an UberEats meal?

If you answered yes, just know that you are not alone. And that I have the perfect solution for you!

Student Feeds is a start-up I have recently established where we provide $5 healthy meal preps to students specifically in self-catered accommodation. By producing in bulk and selling to consumers in bulk, we hope these meals can improve the affordability of student living. We are student-driven – organised by students for students. This means all our operations and future expansions will aim to involve students as the core of our business; whether this be in employing students, delivering to students’ doorsteps and establishing a personal relationship, or in generation of marketing and product development ideas. 

Having lived at a self-catered accommodation this year, the biggest struggle experienced by myself and many of my friends was cooking for ourselves. Cooking every day is time consuming and costly, which can distract us from our university responsibilities, resulting in unhealthy lifestyles. I’ve witnessed so many of my friends succumb to $20 UberEats and regret it afterwards. It also occurred to me that some of them did not have the skills to cook either, so I would often cook bulk meals once a week and give my leftover meals to my friends, who acted as though I was saving their lives.

Another motivation for creating Student Feeds was because I volunteered at Bellyful NZ last year. This organisation makes hundreds of meals a month and delivers them to recent mothers in need (e.g. with post-partum depression or babies in hospital). I loved taking part in bulk meal preparation with great volunteers for such a worthy cause and identified that in fact students may also be a cause in need of cheap, healthy meals.

I think a huge barrier many budding entrepreneurs face is taking the first step to create something new. Ironically, we’re too scared to fail and this self-doubt means so many ideas never come to fruition. This is me, but I forced myself to buy 100 meal prep containers off Ebay on a whim so I was obliged to use them. Student Feeds was created after pondering over the idea for a week, and it has only been getting better from there. 

Our first goal was simple: make $1 of profit in the first week. We managed to surpass this over 100 times over. Our sales have continued to double as more students have discovered our start-up, and due to pre-orders and brand exposure across self-cater accommodation, we sold out 46 meals in 2 hours. 

I will soon be needing to hire more students and expand our team. We would love to develop an app, get intellectual property protection, a physical premise, and to expand to more accommodation as well as across the campus.

This is where we would LOVE your help! We are currently in the running to win Best Student Startup in the Startcon Australasian Startup Awards. Please help us improve student living by voting for us here (voting closes November 17, 2017). If you would like to keep up to date on our progress, feel free to follow us on Instagram @studentfeeds.

By Cindy Burgess, Bachelor of Commerce student at the University of Sydney Business School

6 November 2017

Learn from each success AND failure: Know thyself

We do not learn from experience
We learn from reflecting on experience
John Dewey

Reflection is a way to look at your past encounters and behaviours from a new perspective to improve your future actions. Employers now want a more resilient workforce to promote organisational well-being. They recruit employees who don’t become demotivated in the face of adversity and uncertainty, and have the openness to learn from their mistakes. Self-reflection is an amazing way to create a better self-awareness and resilience as it helps you to recognise and understand your strengths and areas for improvement. 

Benefits of self-reflection 

  1. It will assist you in identifying your professional and personal strengths and weaknesses
  2. Keeping a self-reflection log will aid you in writing a superior resume and cover letter
  3. It will improve your interview skills (Particularly Behavioural Interview. See my previous post for how to answer behavioural questions)
  4. It will help you write better reflective essays, reports and presentations for your degrees
  5. Self-reflection promotes self-empowerment as it helps you understand and control your emotions, and help you act on incidents rather than react on them.
  6. Taking the time to pause and think will help you create innovative ideas
  7. You will become more collected and articulate

How to be self-reflective

Reflective Journal:
One of the most common and useful way to create self-awareness is to keep a reflective journal. It is different than keeping diary in the sense that it is less descriptive and more analytic. You use less description and more evaluation and action plan in writing a reflective journal. Using a framework can be especially useful to write your reflection log more coherently and constructively. Below is an example of a simple reflection framework:
  • Description (Describe the event): During a conversation with my supervisor in my industry placement program (IPP), she asked me if I knew about the Australian employment law, and unfortunately, I had to say no because I had no Industrial Relation course in my degree.
  • Feelings (What were you thinking or feeling?): I felt a bit embarrassed and unprepared because my degree was Master of HRM and IR, and it’s only normal for people to expect me to know about industrial relations. Consequently, I decided to learn about the employment laws.
  • Action (What did you do in response?): First, I talked to my supervisor about what laws they needed to use most frequently because learning all the laws was impractical in the short timeframe of my internship. Secondly, since the information on the website was extremely descriptive, I created simple tables for every section which was easier to understand and more effective. Third, while I was learning the laws, I checked different completed contracts and forms from my organization’s database to understand the basic application of the laws.
  • Result (What outcomes did you have because of your actions? Was it positive or negative?): I completed 15 employee contracts and 10 statements of contract, and a tier-3 HR query (Back Payment issue) that I didn’t think I would get to do as Tier-3 involves legal issues.
  • Future action plan (What would you do differently next time for improvement): I will learn more about the laws and focus on HIG awards as I am interested in hospitality industry which will prepare me for my potential interviews and jobs.
Ask for feedback:
Soliciting feedback can be another way of creating self-awareness.
  • Ask your team members, peers, friends, managers and mentors for constructive feedback. Be open and make them feel safe to give you an honest feedback by actively listening to them and asking clarifying questions.
  • Read all the feedback given by the faculty on your assessments to improve your future assessments. My journey from D to HD is my analysis of the written and oral feedback from my lecturers and tutors.
Simple regular meditation can be an effective way to pause and reflect to gain greater awareness of yourself. Many people find it beneficial to use a few seconds to focus on their breathing. Being mindful can also foster collected thoughts by lessening your anxiety and stress, and can make you focused and hence, productive. There are several techniques of meditation that you can find on our University Website that I found useful to clear my head and to understand myself and my intentions/needs better.

Increase your emotional vocabulary:
Reflection can backfire and add to your stress if you struggle to express your feelings using the right words. Moreover, it will not reveal any significant information about yourself if you cannot go beyond using the words “good” or “bad” or “happy” or “sad”. You can expand your emotional vocabulary using 100 Ways to Describe How You Feel.

What to reflect on

You can reflect on your work, classes, teamwork, presentation and even behaviour! Ask yourself questions like:
  1. Are you actively participating in class? Is there anything that is hindering your participation in class? How can you change it in the future?
  2. Are you contributing in your team? Do you find it difficult to deal with a team member? How do you think you should approach him/her next time to be more collaborative? What will you do if you encounter similar situation in the future?
  3. What is the most challenging thing at your work? Why? How can you overcome this challenge? What is the easiest thing at your work? What strategies make this work easy for you?
Reflection can be challenging sometimes, especially when we reflect on negative experience. However, once you learn by reflecting on these experiences, you will have better control over yourself and your future.

Written by
Anindita Roy Bannya, first year Master of HRM and IR student at the University of Sydney Business School and Careers Leader with the Careers and Employability Office.

11 September 2017

Where will postgraduate study in international business lead you?

Master of International Business graduate Jiaqi Qin shares his journey to undertaking postgraduate study, where he is now and why he chose to study international business at the University of Sydney Business School.

Jiaqi Qin
Master of International Business

Where has your postgraduate study led you?

I am currently working as an analyst and sales manager trainee in a trading company. The company is a subsidiary of JD-link Co., a listed international logistic company in China.

My first role is as a business analyst – i.e. doing research on the business environment, trading policies and market situation of other countries to form references for the decision maker. The company is planning to do investment in the ASEAN region as a rising number of Chinese firms, especially those of labor-intensive industries, are moving to south-east Asia. The investment echoes the Chinese government’s Belt and Road strategy. At this stage, we are focusing on the market opportunities for building materials (steel, cement etc.), home furnishing, agribusiness, and consulting service in Vietnam.

My second role is as a sales manager trainee. The company is trying to do some trading business based on its logistic infrastructures. It has started with import milk from Australia, home care products, wine and other FMCG. Its business model is not mature, so I am focusing on its model design and sales channel development.

Why did you choose to study international business at the University of Sydney?

China is the biggest exporter in the world. ‘Made in China’ has become one of the most well-known phrase of Chinese goods found around almost all the corner shops in the world. And who made it happen? Merchandisers, traders, business man, those who engaged in international business. Ever since I travelled abroad in 2010 (to Australia) and saw how exporting business was booming, I told myself I want to be part of that. To me, getting the products we have to another country is cool, and the profit is very attractive. Since then, I worked hard to forge all the skills I thought a businessman should have: language ability, business knowledge.

After my graduation, I had an opportunity to work in a furniture manufacturing company as a sales assistant in the international marketing department. That was the first time I got involved in real life export business: meeting distributors, supervising the packaging process, answering enquiries, making quotations... I could be a good export agent with all these practices, but will that be enough? I found myself with a lack of a comprehensive sense of international business: we use distributors but why? Why do they matter? We use Certificates of Origin to enjoy the concessions under the Most Favored Nation policy but how exactly does it work? How will it affect the business in the future? I spent a great amount of time doing daily routines, which made me a good part of the department. However, how about leading the department? Can I do that? Would I have a mindset to form a business strategy? To explore business opportunities in a brand new country? I couldn’t answer those questions. And I don’t think in a short time my job could offer me these answers.

Then I started my research on a list of degrees from all different countries. Luckily I found the Master of International Business (MIB) at Sydney Uni. The introduction of MIB was like the first eye contact of my beloved girlfriend and I still remember that I told myself that day: I think I find the one.

What was most valuable about your learning experiences at the University?

Methodologies. Studying at USYD was very different and challenging work for me as I have never studied in a Western university before. The differences almost “got me”. The mechanism encouraged me to explore everything basically on my own. I was joking: “what on earth had I paid my tuition for since I have to do all of it by myself?” Nevertheless, this was the most valuable thing USYD offered me: methodologies – i.e. methods to approach and solve problems. I appreciate it so much after I started working. A business degree won’t really give you a lot of practical skills like an engineer degree, but it gives you methodologies you can use to learn, to talk, and to think. Technologies evolve while methodologies last. The methodologies I learnt will benefit me for the rest of my life.

How has the Master of International Business prepared you for future opportunities and is helping you to achieve your career goals?

The Master of International Business gives me a more comprehensive understanding of international business. With all the research and analytical skills I acquired during the degree, I can explore industries and markets in an efficient way. Industries are different, but the ways to run businesses are pretty similar. I found such ability opens a wide range of opportunities for me. Besides, MIB installed in me a good sense of teamwork, professional mindset, business manners, multicultural communication, which would be critical in an international business career.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying international business at the University of Sydney and embarking on an international business career?

There were people asking me what exactly have I learnt from MIB? I told them if you are looking for a specific skill, don’t even bother to do MIB. MIB is a journey to show you what you can do. It will give you a sense of how to be a business consultant, an export manager, a government foreign affair officer, or a director of an international team. It is a rehearsal of your professional life, so you can choose what to do in the future. What you will have is the learning experience with all the resources, projects, cases, teamwork, multicultural environment provided by MIB. These works are exactly what you are going to face in your international business career. Try to make the most of them so you will have a wider horizon and more options in the future.

8 September 2017

Job Smart: A Success Story

Name: Haoxiang (Victor) Gu
Degree and majors: Master of Professional Accounting (MPA)
Position and company: Marketing Coordinator at St John Ambulance Australia (NSW)

Why did you decide to participate in Job Smart? What attracted you to the program?

I first met Job Smart when it just started in my first semester. As a brand-new student, I had no clue about this, also, brand-new program. The reason I chose to participate, to be honest, was the rewards/prize for completion of each phrase. That was a local working experience. How fantastic it is! And more importantly, it was totally free to join. So, why not?

What was the best thing about Job Smart?

Rather than delivering academic knowledge, Job Smart granted us a great opportunity to equip ourselves with more professional and hands-on work-required skills through its series of training. I am from a non-English speaking background, so you can imagine how hard it was for me to deliver a professional workplace presentation whilst standing in front of all the “big bosses”. Thanks to Job Smart’s pre-placement training, I was able to deliver a satisfying presentation in the end and the managers were all impressed by our work and happy to provide an extended term.

What are some of the greatest lessons you've learned from the experience?

After completing phase 1, I was qualified for a 2-week experience with St John Ambulance (NSW), a leading first-aid services provider. During the experience, I was allocated into a team of 5, working on projects like competitor profiling, training optimisation, product cost-benefit analysis, etc. It enabled me to demonstrate teamwork, leadership, time management and most importantly, networking, which is what I valued a lot. It was an immense experience whereby someone like me, who was new to the workplace, can understand both the organization and myself well enough and what career path to pursue in the future.

How has Job Smart added to your degree and grown you professionally/personally?

Job Smart was running step-by-step programs throughout the first half of the semester. They were mostly condensed into 1 or 2-hour sessions, which allows you to easily fit into your own study without any clashes. Most of the programs are marketing or consulting focused, which probably won’t be touched on a lot in your own majors.  For example, the position I started with was a marketing assistance, which was not my academic major but gave me a really good chance to know how do marketers work and what is the synergy between accounting and marketing. Marketing requires more out-of-box thinking which needs you to demonstrate sound creativity. And again, marketing is all about networking and socialising. On the other hand, accounting emphasises more on unambiguity and reasonability. It was good to understand both areas well and then decide where you will fit into. Nowadays, I believe that the best employee must be one who is competent in more than one area.

How did Job Smart help prepare you for your career, including landing a job while studying?

Besides the hands-on skills mentioned before, the other best thing about Job Smart I think is the opportunity, or in other words, networking. I wouldn’t have known my company and managers if I hadn’t received an opportunity from Job Smart; neither would I have had the chance to show what I am capable of. Employers would definitely know your capabilities from your “doing” (internship) rather than your “saying” (resume). So, Job Smart opened the door for me and enabled me to put my foot in first.

Would you recommend Job Smart to other students?

Yes, I definitely will. I highly recommend new students, especially international students, to grab this great opportunity and set your first foothold in an Australian workplace.
When the opportunity comes, what you need to do is try your best to impress your bosses. It was only last month, I got an email from St John saying that they are currently looking for a marketing coordinator and that was how I got my current position.

25 August 2017

HPAIR, you've been wonderful!

Imagine this: you’re in a room full of 600 other delegates from over 70 countries around the world, listening to renowned academics, industry professionals and political leaders impart their knowledge, experience and advice to you. Well that’s what I was able to experience this past week at the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations 2017 Asia Conference held at the Sydney International Convention Centre. I had the amazing opportunity to be the student representative for the Business School (the University of Sydney was the partnering educational institution along with Harvard University) along with Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences student Swetha Das and other USYD delegates.

This year’s HPAIR five-day conference was jam-packed with over 80 exceptional speakers, six unique panel tracks, business field trips, interactive panel discussions (and constructive debates), impact challenge competition, and cultural and social events that provides delegates with ample networking opportunities broadens interdisciplinary knowledge and acts as a forum to share ideas in order to enact real social change. For those of you who were unable to attend, I wanted to share what we got to do during the 2017 HPAIR conference.

Day 1 

The first day consisted of the Opening Ceremony where we heard from Mitchell Hunter and Timothy Makalinao (the USYD and Harvard HPAIR Executive Directors) on their advocacy for change, diversity and sustainability, which led them to coordinating the biggest HPAIR conference yet. Next, John Lord AM, the Chairman for Huawei Australia, and David Ritter, the CEO of Greenpeace Australia, shared their stories of leadership and failures to aspire us to make a difference. What really stood out to me is David Ritter’s simplistic breakdown of the four quadrants of the global crisis: Democracy, Inequality, Climate Change, and the Crisis of Meaning, and the steps that can be taken by young leaders of today to spur the remedial process for these issues. 

Day 2

Business field trips here we come! I attended the Australian Department of Foreign Trade and Affairs trip that was located at the Australian National Maritime Museum. This field trip involved a panel discussion of issues pertinent to the Asia-Pacific region, including how Australia manages the challenges and opportunities presented by its relationships with China, India, and countries in the Pacific and ASEAN. We discussed the issues of sovereignty, current trade policies and much more. It was highly insightful to see how the global and regional economy operates in order to promote economic growth and global stability.

Day 3

University Day! Whilst everyone was capturing photos of the infamous Abercrombie staircase and the Hogwarts-like stature of the Great Hall, I sat in the ABS cafĂ© catching up on lectures and assessments. Fun I know but you got to work hard to play hard. 

Day 3 was also the beginning of the panel discussions for our individual tracks. As an Entrepreneurship and Technology delegate, we deliberated over topics such as AI, machine learning, cybersecurity, Women in the Technology and Entrepreneurship field to expanding business in Asia. Our panel speakers were either working in the technology/entrepreneurial field and were serial entrepreneurs, or working in the Asia-Pacific region with extensive knowledge and relationships, or even a combination of both. This was honestly my favourite part because not only were they brutally honest and genuine in their stories and advice, they debated over controversial issues providing us both sides of the story. We even had the chance to submit questions that was delved into with tremendous depth and insight. 

We moved on to our individual seminar sessions afterwards – I was in the Cybersecurity: Not Your Average Tech Superstar seminar with Michelle Price, COO of the Australian Cyber Security Growth Network Ltd. She highlighted the nature of the current cyber landscape, both the positive and negative risks associated with cybersecurity, and the global magnitude that a cyberattack like the Mirari botnet has. 

Did you know out of all the OECD countries, we, Australians, are the number one target for ransom ware in the world, per capita? Why? Because we are too trusting and have not yet experienced large home-grown terrorism, resulting in our lack of understanding of the associated risks. 

That night, I was truly immersed in a cultural frenzy as it was International Night at the Quadrangle. From cultural dances to traditional songs, we experienced it all and it was definitely enlightening! Nowhere else can you experience a mixture of over 70 countries and cultures in one single space like that. I went home that night feeling a lot more … cultured (HAHA)!

Day 4

My second favourite day, but also one of the most intense experiences I’ve ever had! Day 4 was the Impact Challenge Competition.

I was a part of the United States Studies Centre at University of Sydney case study challenge about Women in STEM fields. We were given a limited time frame (5 HOURS!) to analyse, research, produce a report and presentation on our findings, and demonstrate our innovative thinking through delivering policy recommendations that had the potential to be utilised in the work at the centre. Not only did we need to assess the Women in Stem environment in Australia and the US, but we had to make comparisons to the Asian region, in order to identify the best practices that can be implemented. Unfortunately we did not have the opportunity to present our recommendations, we felt like absolute guns! It was extremely challenging to produce something substantial in such limited time frame but we did it! It truly illustrated to me the power of team collaboration and integration – I’ve never worked in such a more cohesive environment where we able to provide constructive feedback to each other and brainstorm creative solutions. Also, never in my life have I been that productive! It was a whirlwind of a journey that I would gladly like to never participate in again (kidding…but not really)! 

Day 5 

Fifth and final day! 

We kicked off the day with our very own version of a Tedx Talk: HPAIRx, and WOW! We had five exceptional speakers who engaged us to think, debate and take action. Their topics ranged from behavioural action and thinking to the impact of their initiatives to equalise the STEM field for more women to enter. 

We ended the day with our final interactive panel discussion! This time in the Entrepreneurship and Technology track we were able to engage more with our panel speakers to ask more personal questions on their journeys to where they are today and the obstacles they faced along the way. Topics ranged from the role of mentors in career development and the approaches one would implement to nurturing and maintaining those relationships to the differences between the entrepreneurial skills and the entrepreneurial mindset. 

Of course, to truly finish this intensely amazing experience, we had dinner in the ICC Grand Ballroom and then the (long-awaited) after-party at the Marquee. I mean, who wouldn’t want to club on a Monday night with a 9am lecture the next morning! It was honestly so worth it and I wouldn’t give up this experience for anything in the world. I met some amazing people along the way, gained an overwhelming amount of knowledge and advice, and engage in some crazy challenges! I want to thank the HPAIR organisers and the University of Sydney for letting me be a part of the new wave of change. 

By Cindy Ngo, current Bachelor of Commerce student at the University of Sydney Business School