Shawn Andrews is embracing his MBA experience to advocate for change.
Shawn Andrews is the Director of IndigiGig, a company that connects Australian businesses with skilled Indigenous Workers. In 2015, he founded and is the current Managing Director of Indigicate, an Indigenous owned and operated organisation that specialises in the delivery of Indigenous Education programs that are designed and taught from an Indigenous perspective.
Shawn is also the Chairperson of SupplyAus, a 100 percent owned and operated Indigenous business supplying goods for social impact. SupplyAus is a proud social enterprise returning 50% of profits back into Indigenous community projects and suicide prevention activities.
Shawn is a proud descendant of the Mununjali people of South East Queensland and the Palawa people of Tasmania. Shawn has held positions at National Australia Bank, Melbourne Grammar School, and Indigenous Accountants Australia. He is a highly respected Indigenous educator, public speaker, thought leader and is a passionate advocate of equality for all Australians.
Shawn is currently completing his AGSM MBA (Executive) and is the inaugural recipient of the AGSM Indigenous Leaders Scholarship – Continuing Students. AGSM spoke to Shawn about his MBA experience so far and how this will help him to achieve his dream of being a catalyst for change by helping to end Indigenous disadvantage in Australia, and around the world.
Tell us about Indigicate and your current role as Managing Director?
Indigicate is a company with the sole purpose to end Indigenous disadvantage. We design and facilitate on-country experiences for school camps, executives, organisations and for Indigenous young people. The aim of Indigicate is to create a multi-day, immersive, two-way learning journey for non-indigenous peoples to engage with the beauty and depth of Indigenous cultures. We believe that when we bring non-Indigenous people into cultural learning spaces, we can provide them with an authentic experience that will help them understand the strength of Indigenous peoples.
Since Indigicate started in 2014 we have taught more than 60,000 people in six different countries. Our Indigenous-specific programs target our most vulnerable Indigenous young people providing them with leadership and cultural camps, giving them the opportunity to travel overseas to attend Child’s Rights conferences and participate in events that provide opportunities for them to grow.
My role at Indigicate is to drive the growth and strategy of the company, develop the educational teams, and generally ensure the lights stay on. I spend quality time with both our Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants as they continue their journeys. Sometimes this means I need to spend days canoeing up the Murray River, walking through the Alps and even supervising international programs in France.
Why did you choose to study the AGSM MBA (Executive) program?
In 2017, I had the honour of presenting the closing address at the Inaugural Indigenous Conference for Sustainable Communities in Vancouver, Canada. While there, I met Rebecca Harcourt, Program Manager Indigenous Business Education at UNSW Business School, and some of UNSW's Indigenous undergraduates who were attending the conference, supported by UNSW. I developed a deep respect for UNSW's Indigenous pathways programs and the support they offered young Indigenous students. When I decided to do an MBA, I knew immediately that I would choose AGSM because of their connection to UNSW and the conversations I had with the UNSW students in Vancouver. In my opinion, AGSM is Australia’s leading Business School for supporting Indigenous people and is a perfect fit for me.
I also wanted to meet people outside of my normal networks and make some new contacts. Living in Melbourne means I have to travel to Sydney for intensive classes and this gives me an opportunity to expand my network in Sydney and across Australia. AGSM is one of the world's best MBA programs and I wanted to learn from the best.
What did you hope to achieve from studying an MBA?
I really want to develop my management skills and become the best manager I can be. In 2018, I recognised that I was relying on my strong leadership skills to drive our business and my management skills were lacking. It was a tough realisation, but necessary for me to grow and to make sure I was putting in the right structures to enable our teams to grow. As the first person in my family to complete an undergraduate degree I wanted to push myself and show my family and the greater Indigenous community that it is possible to complete an MBA. I want our young people to see that it is possible and that if they want to business leaders they can be.
How has the MBA impacted your career so far?
It’s been a ton of fun and I’ve made so many new friends. These new friendships have also helped my career immensely and have given me a globally recognised Alumni network to work with. The coursework and the educators have also expanded my mindset to new ways of thinking and how to structure Indigicate. Our teams are working better, and their management skills are improving, this has led to an increase in productivity and revenue.
You are also a recipient of the AGSM Indigenous Leaders Scholarship – Continuing Students. What did receiving this scholarship mean to you?
It is humbling to be recognised as an Indigenous leader and it is a responsibility that I take seriously. Receiving this scholarship, means that I can also concentrate on completing my MBA without the financial worry. Not many Indigenous people have the opportunity to complete an MBA and we don't have the support systems in place to assist financially. AGSM’s scholarship program is helping to address this and provide more opportunities for Indigenous people to complete higher education.
This scholarship also has a flow-on effects for our Indigenous communities and many young people have reached out and asked me questions about how they can start a career in business. Hopefully one day I can provide funds for a scholarship so more Indigenous people can complete an MBA.
What are your future aspirations, and how will your MBA help you to achieve these?
I don't dream small and one of my aspirations is to be a catalyst for ending Indigenous disadvantage in Australia, and around the world. Our reconciliation programs and supply businesses will benefit from a deeper understanding of business management and administration. I want to be the best manager and leader I can be, and my MBA has provided me with a broad platform of skills that will enable me to grow and reach my goals.
Do you have any advice for future students wanting to study an MBA and why they should choose AGSM?
Don’t wait for the right time to start your MBA, take the chance to grow and embrace every opportunity.
The networks and friendships that you create at AGSM are incredible! The program gives you the opportunity to work with a diverse group of people you wouldn't normally work with and you learn from each other’s experiences. The coursework is contemporary and relevant to current business issues, and there is a lot of support from the AGSM faculty. UNSW and AGSM have a strong sense of pride for Indigenous cultures and they are respectful and thoughtful. They have always worked with me to understand the cultural frameworks that impact my study and have added value to the AGSM experience.
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