George Lawson graduated from the full-time MBA program at AGSM @ UNSW Business School in 1997 and is currently working as the Country Manager for Alipay, which is the world’s largest mobile payment platform that uses a QR code-based payment method and has more than 800 million users in China alone. George’s daughter, Jessica Lawson, is a current UNSW student, pursuing a Bachelor of Information Systems degree. Recently, Jessica was awarded a place on the AFR’s GradConnection Top 100 Future Leaders list and her father couldn’t be prouder. The skills both Jessica and George gained and are currently learning are preparing them for a successful career in the future.

George and Jessica Lawson

They joined me to discuss their respective experiences.

Q. You attended AGSM and now Jessica is studying at UNSW also – what is that like?

Awesome in a word. Jessica spent her first year in college on campus, which was a fabulous experience for her. Her workplace experiences have been first rate, and this places her well for future employment opportunities. She was also selected to be part of the University’s Co-Op program, which sandwiches work experience with study.

I chose AGSM @ UNSW Business School for its excellent brand and also the opportunity to join a full-time cohort, which suited me. The full-time element of the program was an immersive environment that deepened the educational experience, and I’m so pleased that Jessica is gaining so much out of her experience at UNSW as well.

Q. Jessica, you were initially interested in law and then pivoted to information systems. What influenced this decision and what would you like to do after completing your Bachelor’s degree?

My problem at the end of high school was that I was interested in too many things. I wasn’t sure where to start and I was interested in law because I wanted to help people. However, my friends pointed out to me that I was altering the code of websites during class when I was bored, and I was learning to code Python in my spare time. This compelled me to switch to information systems and I hope in my career I’m able to bridge the gap and help people understand how technology works and how to protect themselves. At the same time, I’m interested in how the technology industry can improve trust with its customers and create a win-win situation for everyone involved. Information technology is such a complex topic, but one that I hope to lend my voice to in the future.

Q. What has been your favourite part about studying at UNSW so far?

I love the community at UNSW. I’ve made some amazing friends here and I have really felt like I’ve found my own way. There’s an extra-curricular group for any niche hobby or interest and every society is incredibly welcoming whether it’s to join an activity for one hour or four years.

Q. George, as an AGSM alum, were there two or three key things you learned at AGSM that helped you in your career afterwards or current work environment?

Absolutely. There are three key things I learnt that I use regularly:

First, the importance of group work. The majority of career work activity is in groups and at AGSM I learned the ultimate lesson of how to make the best out of the team that you have.

Second, I learned to deal with large amounts of information and uncertainty in decision making. Courses at AGSM taught me to be selective and focus on seeking relevant information rather than try to cover everything. This took me awhile to get used to but has allowed me to focus on the important information in the workforce.

Lastly, strategic thinking. It focuses on how to structure and organise your thoughts and is commonly used by consulting firms. I use the approach endlessly in the workforce and it is a game changer for me.

Q. Jessica, as a student in the middle of their journey at UNSW, what advice would you give to high school students considering UNSW?

My advice is to make sure you really evaluate different universities, talk to students doing the degree you are interested in and make sure you understand what you are picking. Don’t focus on things like location or where all of your friends are going. You’ll keep in touch with the people that matter. At the end of the day, the things that will make the difference is the culture, the opportunities, and the learnings.

Q. As a father and alum, what would you say to other parents/students considering UNSW or AGSM?

UNSW should 100 per cent be in your consideration set. It is a great campus, has excellent courses and high-quality lecturers and students. It has been a great school for both Jess and me.

To find out more about AGSM @ UNSW Business School, click here.

To find out more about UNSW Business School, click here.

To learn about the Bachelor of Information Systems degree, click here.