Joshua Cabaj

Joshua Cabaj

Joshua Cabaj

  • Year completed 2018
  • Current position Business Development Manager, Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade)
  • Degree(s) Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Arts
  • Major(s) Japanese studies

Career summary

Joshua has used the skills developed through his Finance and Japanese Studies majors to fuel his professional success as a Business Development Manager with the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) in Osaka, Japan. Austrade’s Osaka post operates the Australian-Consulate General in Osaka to support Australian businesses looking to succeed in Western Japan, while simultaneously promoting trade and productive foreign direct investment into Australia.

Career pathway

2020 – Business Development Manager (Investment Analyst), Austrade, Japan
2019 – Graduate Employee, Nitori Holdings Co Ltd, Japan
2018 – Freelance Translator and Transcriber, Appen, Australia
2017 – Trainee in Global Mobility Tax, PwC, Australia
2016 – Study Abroad Program (in Japanese Studies, Economics, International relations, Politics, Management), University of Tsukuba, Japan
2016 – Intern, Clients and Marketing Management, PwC, Japan
2014 – Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Commerce, Monash University

Why did you choose to study a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Arts with Monash University?

During high school, I had a growing vision of what I wanted to do in business but equally had a love for languages and a desire to understand foreign cultures.

Before commencing my tertiary education, I had the opportunity to participate in the Year 12 Extension Program, offered to VCE students with an interest in undertaking a first-year university subject.

Through this program I was able to study for one year at the Caulfield campus, doing Japanese. It provided the perfect gateway into learning about Monash and university life, and understanding how it all operates.

After researching and looking through all the options available at various universities, I was attracted to the structure of Monash’s double degree program, especially the Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Arts. I started at Monash as an undergraduate in 2014.

How are the Bachelor of Commerce and the Bachelor of Arts different?

As a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Commerce student, you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in a huge variety of subjects.

My Commerce major was in Finance. We focused on interpreting financial documents through deep analysis, which requires a lot of number-crunching.

The Arts aspect of my double degree was more qualitative in nature, as the arts sequence has an emphasis on utilising academic resources and journals to make logical assumptions and ultimately putting this into writing as a final report.

Even though the two were very much dissimilar, they complemented each other well and I am glad that I ended up pursuing both courses of study.

In my current role, both aspects are highly demanded. One aspect of my job involves looking at how numbers translate to future strategies and plans. At the same time, I use the skills from my Arts degree to use academic resources and news reports to form logical assumptions. Without my Arts degree, my overall mindset would have been far shallower.

How have the skills you learnt during your double degree prepared you for your career?

One of the big things demanded of me throughout my time at Monash University was to have self-initiative and the ability to address issues on my own. In addition, I was constantly asked to go out of my comfort zone and not be afraid to try new things and be prepared to make mistakes

I came into university determined to try new things. During my 12 months of studying abroad especially, I challenged myself through living on my own and becoming more independent.

When joining the workforce, it’s essential to have strong teamwork skills. At Monash, there are many opportunities to do group assignments, where you have to be in a team with people from a range of backgrounds who might think differently from you, or be from different cultures or different age groups. It was a great foundation to learn how to work with a variety of people, and be able to use their strengths to ultimately create new value.

How important was studying a language to your career path?

In 2016, I had the opportunity to study at the University of Tsukuba, through a scholarship offered by the Walter Mangold Trust Fund. Arts provided the stepping-stone to this overseas opportunity, and everyone was supportive.

A common condition to study overseas is that you’re learning the language. By studying Japanese during my Bachelor of Arts, I automatically met some of that core criteria. If I did a single degree in Commerce, I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to study abroad in Japan.

In Japan, my overall goal was to improve my language proficiency. The other major aspect was to learn more about the culture, while at the same time be able to come out of my comfort zone and meet other international students to broaden my way of thinking.

I was able to undertake business subjects as well as Japanese language classes which was an enriching experience and probably one of the highlights of my time at Monash.

Additionally, it was my first time living on my own and going overseas, so it was a big step in my life, and I most certainly learnt many things, like independence and time-management.

I was also able to do an internship in Tokyo, working for a global professional services firm. I usually worked three days a week, and twice a week I would be attending my regular classes.

It was difficult at the start to balance out my life and multi-task and to have the right time commitments to fit everything in. I was tired every day after coming back from work and I just had no desire to study, but after a couple of months I realised the importance of time management and after being able to plan out my days and prioritise what was most important.

For local Japanese companies, being able to speak Japanese is highly advantageous. They really value it, especially if you come from overseas.

In my current role, I’ve recognised that not only being able to speak Japanese but having a strong cultural appreciation makes a big difference in business. My study overseas experience definitely gave me an edge.

How important were the Monash Arts staff in helping your studies?

Dr Jeremy Breaden, Dr Naomi Kurata and Dr Shimako Iwasaki provided tremendous support during my scholarship application to study abroad, as well as providing me with useful feedback during my time at Monash.

In particular, Dr Iwasaki was able to give me a great first impression about what university is like. She was able to provide introductions to many of her industry contacts which she has known for a long time in a professional setting. Dr Iwasaki recommended I attend a seminar with PwC, the professional services firm. She was able to provide me with a good introduction and the opportunity to meet key business contacts working in the Australia-Japan business sphere.

Through these key contacts, I secured an internship in Japan. Without the assistance of those staff, I don’t think I would be where I am at this present moment.

Monash is a leading educational institution that holds a solid alumni base with a powerful global footprint. As a young professional, it’s immensely beneficial to have an immediate Monash connection.

What is your message to current/future students?

Without a doubt, you should have a go at undertaking a double degree. Two disciplines can appear to be very different, and at times you might not think they will leverage one-another. However, you’d be amazed at how two fields of study can complement each other, and the kinds of exposure to different experiences you can gain.

If I just did a Commerce degree, I most definitely wouldn’t have had the chance to meet my supportive mentors in the Japanese faculty.