WHY NOT COMBINE YOUR PASSIONS?
Alice Ju knew her passions lay in helping others realise their potential and not in a cubicle under fluorescent lights, so she left investment banking for a career in teaching. But although she had left the world of business, Alice discovered that her entrepreneurial spirit remained. Determined to combine her competing interests, Alice founded Creative Einstein, an educational centre with small, student-centred classes that encourage confidence and creativity. With a focus on fundamentals, self-directed learning and art, Alice has redefined the traditional classroom, helping her students achieve levels of academic excellence they never thought possible.
For Alice Ju, the decision to leave investment banking for a career in teaching was easy. She knew her passions lay in helping others realise their potential and not working in a cubicle under florescent lights. But she left the world of finance to find meaning in the world of education, Alice discovered something else - her long held desire to start her own business - hadn't disappeared. The dream of entrepreneurship that led her to study Economics at UNSW Business School remained.
Inspired by the career choices of fellow graduates - Alice asked 'Why not?' Why not strike out on her own and start a business that combined her dedication to teaching with her business acumen? Why not build a business that placed creativity at the centre of learning?
'For as long as I can remember I wanted to establish my own business - that's why I studied Economics and Finance at university. I found myself at a turning point, deciding between staying in a job I loved or going out on my own and creating something new,' Alice explains.
Her 'why not' moment led to the founding of Creative Einstein, an educational centre established on the principle that all students can achieve academic excellence when given the opportunity to study in small, student-centred classes that encourage confidence and creativity. Alice’s emphasis on teaching fundamentals first and then using self-directed learning to build problem-solving skills - has led her students to great success.
'I've had many students sign-up for my classes because they are either struggling or incredibly bright and need to be challenged. They are bored in the traditional classroom. They hate school...they're disengaged,' says Alice.
'I help these kids rediscover a love of learning. The small class sizes mean no one gets lost during lessons and if someone does have issues it is easier for them to speak up and ask for help. The pressure is off so they can really focus on learning the basics. Once they are mastered - we move onto developing critical thinking skills.'
Alice's belief that creativity is 'necessary no matter where you go' has transformed the lives of her students and defined her business model. In addition to academic subjects, Creative Einstein students also take art classes that nurture imagination and play. Alice instructs her students on how to draw shapes and forms and then encourages them to 'find their own line' - much as she did after leaving the finance industry.
As a member of The Arts and Library Advisory Committee of the City of Canterbury-Bankstown Council, Alice is making sure that the benefits of the arts education her students receive is being promoted to the wider community.
For Alice, the value of an education is priceless and the rewards unlimited. One afternoon each week, Creative Einstein opens its doors to the local community, inviting students from all academic backgrounds and age groups to a free homework help workshop. Alice believes all children should have access to support as they learn.
'The most important things I learned at UNSW Business School were to know your industry, understand your opportunity costs, determine if what you are doing is worth doing, and whether it is good for the community and society as a whole,' Alice notes.
'I've taken those lessons and the business fundamentals I was taught in my coursework and applied those skills to running my own business. I have found a way to be an entrepreneur and have a social impact, all while doing something I enjoy and believe in.'