Expanding your business skill-set overseas: Aleisha's story

Aleisha Hewett, Bachelor of Commerce/Economics
Participant in the Global Business Practicum Hong Kong, November – December 2018 

What was the highlight of the Global Business Practicum Hong Kong?

It’s difficult to choose just one, however presenting our final deliverables after three weeks of research, meetings and feedback was a huge achievement and highlight! Exploring the city during the evening and on weekends and experiencing everything Hong Kong has to offer was also a highlight, especially the variety of food (our project team often got excited at 11.30am every day when we would decide on what to eat for lunch).

What skills did you improve upon or knowledge did you acquire during the experience?

During the Practicum I developed a strong foundation of negotiation skills while putting into practice my project management skills. I acquired more knowledge of finance and the banking industry, particularly relating to institutional banking products and services. My group was also fortunate enough to be invited to attend an event held by Women in Fund Finance Hong Kong, where we heard from Kathy Matsui at the China Club. Kathy spoke about her study of gender diversity within the broader workforce and this was very insightful and a unique opportunity that was organised by our supervisor at Westpac.

*Photo Aleisha and other Global practicum 2018 members in Hong Kong

Was it scary to live overseas? Did you experience culture shock?

It was definitely an experience where I found myself out of my comfort zone for the first few days as the Practicum is very different from a ‘holiday’. But as you settle into the routine of working and getting to know the city better, it becomes a great adventure! However, there was definitely some culture shock due to the lack of space as Hong Kong is so densely populated.

What was the project you worked on? Was this related to your Business major? If not, how did you feel about working a project unrelated to your major?

Our team worked on a research project for Westpac Hong Kong based on Technology, M&A and Private Equity trends and firms in Asia. This was partly related to my Information Systems major due to the relation to technology, however it required no specific skills as we learned a lot of these during our time at Westpac. If anything, the project was more relevant to current trends and utilised practical skills rather than theories or formulas. I’ve found this experience to have prepared me well for my future studies and our team was able to really engage with the content we were researching.

Has this course provided insight into future career options?

Absolutely! I was able to experience working in a corporate environment while also having the unique opportunity to do so overseas. This has given me a more open-minded approach to potentially working overseas in the future- something I had not really considered before. Our team also had the opportunity to talk to many of the employees at Westpac Hong Kong about their current roles and career paths. This provided us with insight into the financial industry within Hong Kong and broader Asia-Pacific region and guidance for our own career paths.

What would you tell a student who is hesitant to apply?

I was hesitant at first to apply as I did not know anyone else who had applied or what to expect from the experience, however I made friends really quickly by putting myself out there and embracing the uncertainty. If you have a keen interest in having the experience of working overseas and take a liking to any of the particular cities, definitely apply! It’s such a unique opportunity and everything I learned from the Practicum has been applicable in my studies at UNSW and understanding my career options. There is also the New Colombo Plan Mobility Grant to apply for, which is a fantastic opportunity to make the most of the trip while helping to create links between Australia and Asia. If you give enthusiasm and put in the work during the Practicum, you will find you get the most out of the experience with unique opportunities.