Hi, my name is Mangala and I’m currently in the third year of my Bachelor of Commerce (Scholars)/Bachelor of Economics double degree.
My ultimate goal is to work for one of the big four accounting firms, but in the meantime I'm doing my best to make the most out of my university experience. While at uni, I’ve been involved in a few clubs and societies, including the Monash Actuarial Students’ Society (MASS) and the Beta Alpha Psi (BAP). I also had the chance to travel to Canberra for the National Student Leadership Forum, which has been the highlight of my university experience!
National Student Leadership Forum
Last year, I was fortunate enough to be selected as a delegate from Monash University to attend the 18th National Student Leadership Forum (NSLF) on faith and values in Canberra. I was nominated by Vice Chancellor Margaret Gardner, and was provided with a generous sponsorship from Monash Business School in support of this opportunity.
The forum was held over four days in September, and focused on the impact of faith and values on our academic and extracurricular activities. It also discussed the importance of service leadership and community engagement, and gave us the opportunity to hear from national leaders and speakers from our area of study.
While the experience was exciting, I was also quite nervous as this was the first time I had ever participated in a leadership forum at a national level. I had little idea on who I would meet and how big the cohort of National Student Leaders would be like, but I made sure to still make the most out of the experience. As part of the forum, I was given the chance to tour the interior of Parliament House, dine with members of parliament, and even had the privilege of meeting Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten! On top of this, I had the chance to participate in events I would never have dreamed of.
One of the highlights of my trip would have to be barn dancing for the first time. We were taken to a traditional shearing shed and we were encouraged to dress up. Having never done something like this before, I was grateful that they provided beginner lessons!
By the end of the night, I had grasped some of the basics and enjoyed dancing to some of the traditional Australian outback songs, such as ‘Home among the Gumtrees’, which I remembered quite well from my primary school days. This was a fantastic experience, and helped me form close bonds with the other delegates.
The NSLF provided some wonderful insights relevant to my studies in Business. I had the opportunity to listen to a business panel consisting of David Cooke, Chair and Managing Director of Konica Minolta, and Josef Assaf, founder of Ethnic Business Awards.
David Cooke drew on his experience in doctoral research and spoke about the importance of companies investing in charity. He also emphasised the importance of engaging employees through non-profit causes, highlighting that values and benevolence will lead to profits for the business.
Likewise, Josef Assaf added that hard work and resilience lead to a successful business and also underlined the significance of learning to manage diversity, cautioning that failure to do so may cause workplace disharmony. Something interesting that I learned during Josef’s talk was that 30% of businesses in Australia are owned by international corporations, which means that diversity and multiculturalism really are at the roots of the Australian identity.
Both of these speakers, and my overall experience at the forum, have had a significant impact on how I perceive leadership in business. The main thing that I took away from it was that in order to be profitable, businesses should also be coordinated by leaders who have faith and goodwill.
For me, this forum was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I highly encourage others to look into similar experiences, because the uni is full of them! Not only have I made many friends from all corners of Australia, I have also learnt the importance of getting in touch with my personal beliefs and understanding the mechanisms that influence my everyday decision making.