Shruti Arya completely embraced the AGSM experience while completing her MBA (Executive), which she started to redirect her career onto a more meaningful path. She thought an MBA would be a good way to widen her skill set, gain a better general understanding of the business landscape and maybe even uncover a new career path.
But after originally starting an MBA at a different university and getting frustrated about having to juggle a full-time marketing job with a rigid study schedule, Shruti was unsure if she’d made the right decision.
Still on the fence, Shruti instead decided to enrol in the AGSM @ UNSW Business School MBA (Executive) program. She’d heard good things about the program, and the flexible program structure appealed to her.
“After one subject, I was hooked,” she says. “It was a completely different experience because, while we learned all the things you’d expect about business and management, the focus was on personal development and self-improvement.”
“The key learning for me was that you can't be a leader without any followers – being a leader isn't about you. It's about helping other people grow. And that was what the very first subject at AGSM taught me.”
Shruti also said the calibre of her cohort helped her remain extremely engaged throughout the program. There were diverse professions and levels of experience in the room, but the common goal was to progress themselves and be something greater, with the support of experienced professors.
“Everyone was determined and supportive while on their own journey. They were significant leaders in very senior positions, who became really good friends,” she says.
“Despite being on different career trajectories, we all had a shared goal – we all wanted to be better. The AGSM program and faculty had a way of bringing that out in everyone.”
The structure of the MBA (Executive) program suited Shruti perfectly. She was able to progress at her own pace and immediately implement her learnings at work, growing both personally and professionally along the way.
With a background in marketing, primarily in the quick service industry, Shruti moved to more senior roles in financial services and health technology while working through her MBA. But she still wasn’t satisfied.
“There was something in my head saying that something was not quite right. I felt like I was making the rich richer, especially when I went into financial services,” Shruti says. “I felt like I didn’t have a purpose. I kept asking myself, ‘what am I doing?’”
Then a somewhat serendipitous redundancy forced Shruti to really reassess. She decided to take a career break while she completed her MBA so she could discover her interests and passions.
A serial networker, even before enrolling in her MBA, Shruti loved attending AGSM events. It was here she told Rachel Guest, AGSM MBA Student Specialist, about her career confusion.
“Rachel reminded me about the AGSM Careers Team and encouraged me to get in touch with them to get the help I needed to progress to the next step in my career,” Shruti says.
“After a few discussions with Kirrily Middleton, an AGSM Career Counsellor, we were talking about my passions and I wanted in a career. So essentially they helped design what I wanted to do based on what I was actually interested in and what I enjoyed in my previous roles.”
Shruti started reaching out to her AGSM alumni network to understand more about potential opportunities.
“We don't know all the jobs out there, right? Talking to people and being vulnerable allowed me to create a checklist of what I needed from my next role – it was like I was manifesting it.”
And the opportunity to make the ‘MBA triple jump’ soon came her way. She was challenged to change career sector, function and location, when offered the position of Change Management Consultant at Apis, part of Accenture. This involves working on change and transition strategies for Federal Government agencies.
Her current project is in response to the Royal Commission into aged care, working on high-impact reforms and internal transitions for both Services Australia and external providers.
“When I heard about the role, I realised it ticked so many boxes. From there it was so quick. From application to an offer, it was less than two weeks,” Shruti says.
“It's still in the private sector but working for government. So its for a higher purpose. I think that's what really hooked me. A lot of things fell into place, the people were great, the job was right, and by the time the role came up I was clear on what I wanted.”
Shruti valued the connections she made during her MBA journey and wanted to see more of them outside the classroom. So she started organising regular meet ups for AGSM MBA Alumni in Sydney.
“It started as a couple of dinners, and then we decided to make it a regular catch up to help build high-quality connections amongst attendees,” she says.
“We've been running the meetups for six years. There’s always a different group of people, and as we kept progressing in our careers, we even started a speaker series.”
The ‘Experts Among Us’ series gives people the opportunity to share their success and unique insights with their peers.
This confidence in her AGSM network also helped Shruti when she moved to Canberra. The AGSM Careers team introduced her to fellow alumnus Ajaya Shrestha, who also worked at Apis.
“It wasn’t that we worked at the same company, it was more that we had that same AGSM mentality. I know we’d gone through the same experiences, and that we’re both open and here for growth.
“If I had questions, I could talk things through with him and get his advice. Being in a new industry, new environment and new city, it was nice to have someone with shared experiences providing you guidance.”
Even though she’s been through a lot of change, Shruti feels more stable after actively choosing her new career path. And she says the support she received from the AGSM Careers Team, and what she learned during her MBA and from her alumni peers, played a big part in that.
“Working with the Careers Team helped me understand what I wanted. And now that I’m here, it makes me want to work harder,” Shruti says.
“There’s AGSM alumni doing fabulous things and making a global impact. So I feel like anywhere I go, I could reach out and connect with alumni. My experience is that alumni have been open with their time because we have something inherently in common. And when you bring that out, great things can happen.”
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