Cynthia Chung

Cynthia Chung

Degree
MBA

Current position
Head of Procurement, Nando’s Australia

If you’ve eaten at a Nando’s restaurant, you are typically greeted at the door by a uniformed host who will hand you a menu, a Barci stick with your table number and show you to your table. Your host will show you where the cutlery, plates, sauce bottles and napkins are and direct you to the counter past the works of art on the walls.  Even before placing your order, you will have already experienced several Nando’s Touchpoints.  As the Head of Procurement for Nando’s Australia and New Zealand my job is to source items unique to Nando’s as well as the food and beverage you might typically think of in the restaurant industry.

My role has taken me to many interesting destinations from the chilli farms in Maputo, the tranquil city of Ahmedabad, the bustling city of Guangzhou, Metropolitan Chicago and most recently to the kingdom of Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland).  I have the privilege of working for a purpose-led business which is values-driven.

"One thing for certain, you will not regret investing your effort and time in personal growth and stretching your thinking and learning."

Working with Nando’s has been an incredible journey so far. Nando’s purpose is Changing Lives Together. I’ve had the opportunity to work on the South African Sourcing Hub (SASH) initiative where we look to source items from Southern Africa. That creates employment for disadvantage communities.

Although we are famous for our PERi-PERi Chicken, it’s the people who make the chicken that makes Nando’s a special place. I not only get to eat delicious food every day but I am part of an award-winning team: we recently won three awards at the 2020 QSR Media Awards for Best Innovation (Health), Best Sustainability Initiative and Best Loyalty Program.

The Monash MBA equipped me with the skills to be able to be able to see issues or opportunities from a holistic perspective.

Monash Alumni are widespread and far-reaching – there are so many opportunities for further collaboration which I have yet to tap into. I have continued to keep the friendship and connections of my classmates and it is wonderful to see them all do amazing things all over the world.

In 2019, I applied and was selected to be part of the inaugural Monash MBA Alumni Executive Coaching Program, a 120-day program in partnership with Cirrus.

The program included a Hogan Suite assessment and the Korn Ferry, Emotional and Social Competency Inventory (a 360 degree feedback from my direct reports, leaders, peers and external clients). It was an eye-opening program which helped me think of my career in a more holistic and multi-dimensional way.

I am also part of the Monash Industry and Alumni Mentoring program. I am so excited to be able to contribute to the Monash community and the initial meeting with my mentee has already given me renewed perspective whilst being in lockdown.

I would encourage everyone to sign up for this program - I got so much out of my interaction with my mentee and it gives me a buzz to be able to contribute.

I always knew that I wanted to complete my MBA. However, I wanted an MBA that was reputable. Melbourne has been on top of the most liveable cities in the world list. My sister was studying at Monash at the time and it was a no brainer for me to join her.

I took Leave of Absence from my-then employer to pursue my MBA. After living in Melbourne, I completely loved it here and decided to stay on. In the final semester of my MBA, I saw an advertisement in the newspaper (jobs were advertised in newspapers in those days) for the Ford Motor Company. In my final semester, my employer gave me one day a week to attend lectures and time off to complete assignments.

The Monash MBA taught me to think more broadly. It exposed me to a global way of thinking and more importantly how my decisions potentially impact other parts of the business. Having an MBA allowed me to change industries relatively effortlessly.

The Late Emeritus Professor Peter FitzRoy was an outstanding teacher and mentor. I was fortunate to be in his Strategic Management class which was the capstone of the MBA.

While Professor FitzRoy was a highly respected international academic with vast experience and expert knowledge, he remained so approachable - I vividly remember the intellectual discourses in our group discussions. He would challenge our thinking and analysis with his great sense of humour.

Professor FitzRoy was also my referee when I applied for my first job while completing my MBA.

Three tips I would give current Monash MBA

  • Build relationships, take time to forge deeper bonds with your classmates
  • The beauty of the MBA is the experience of the cohort and the richness of the discussions which you cannot get from textbooks – make sure you come prepared to contribute
  • Take advantage of the resources available to you. The goal is to learn as much as you can and grow ensuring you are exploring and stretching yourself

If you’re thinking about coming to the Monash Business School to study an MBA, I would encourage you to do so. The Monash MBA is ranked in the world’s top 100 and top 3 in Oceania and I would say offers a great return on investment.

One thing for certain, you will not regret investing your effort and time in personal growth and stretching your thinking and learning.