Lives with Purpose – Alumni Profile

Kumar Raghav Jha uses his marketing and communications experience to give under-represented and disadvantaged job seekers the boost they need to integrate into the Australian corporate world. Powered by a deep-rooted passion for philanthropy and an unflinching set of values, UNSW alum Kumar is determined in his mission to open doors and pave the path to success for diverse communities of budding employees and entrepreneurs.

Valuable lessons learned at UNSW

When selecting a university for my postgraduate studies, I was impressed by UNSW’s reputation and top 50 world ranking. It was just as important to me that UNSW’s own values echoed the ideology of my birth country’s hero Gandhi, in championing the importance of education, supporting equality and behaving with kindness. 

I learned how to use my knowledge and energy to empower others who are less fortunate. Knowledge is the key to so many opportunities and it needs to be shared unselfishly. The Dean of Arts and Social Sciences at the time, Professor Susan Dodds, was very focused on the School’s mentoring program and I thoroughly enjoyed working with her and the mentees we supported. It became habitual for me to give 20% of my time to community service. Over the past few years, I have begun working in that space full time, and I couldn’t be happier.

Loving what you do – a career with purpose

Community service is the motto of my life. Walking the path towards equal opportunity continuously drives me. My dream is helping refugees, migrants and Indigenous communities achieve success by reaching their career and personal goals, and giving them the access, the platform and the tools needed to do so.

Highlights on the career journey

My first job was promoting a 5 Star hotel in India. I struggled for the first month but then picked up the pace and became a Team Leader six months later. Following that, I worked with Radisson and Citibank in a marketing capacity. After completing my Master of Public Relations and Advertising at UNSW, I started my own ad agency (Agency 42) where my team and I created TV commercials and graphic design work, which I loved.

Along the way I got involved with Vinnies and helped to raise funds for the homeless for seven years. I was also volunteering at Marine Rescue, NSW State Emergency Service and other charities. Over and over, I kept seeing a gap which could be filled by a job-ready program designed to help students, refugees, migrants, and Indigenous people prepare for, secure and thrive in suitable roles.

For that reason, in July 2020 I founded Opportunities Australia. Our team of 70 volunteers help jobseekers with resume writing, interview preparation and securing jobs. A few big corporates here in Australia have agreed to hire from our candidate pool. Our aim is to make 500 people job ready each year and to place them in relevant roles, so they can achieve personal and financial success.

More recently we have been contacted by more people from overseas and we are beginning to support them remotely via mentoring and the job-ready program. We also help startups founded by these participants to get established and grow, by providing support in the areas of business strategy, IT, marketing, legal, HR, finance and even coaching on how to deliver a compelling sales pitch.     

Problem solving at work

I love solving the issue of job mismatch. I like to upskill candidates in the soft skills additional to their education, which helps prepare them for the roles they want to pursue. I bring in language and HR experts to get people up to speed with local market job requirements and expectations, so they are better equipped for their next challenge.

When I first came to Australia, my communication and soft skills weren’t particularly strong, but I was lucky enough to be mentored by close friends to get to where I am. It’s been an incredible learning curve and something I am eager to share with others to build their confidence. My team are amazing!

Building resilience

Whilst there are obstacles along the way, I keep my ultimate goal in mind every day and continue to expand my vision. The more work we do and useful connections we make, the more we gain clarity on our objectives at Opportunities Australia, and how we can best serve these diverse and disadvantaged communities.

Interacting with such a wide array of jobseekers keeps me on my toes and motivated. We are a not-for-profit organisation, so we provide all our services to our clients and corporates for free. Some well-known corporates like to run job-ready programs and tick the “diversity and inclusion” box, but what I would like to see from them is better follow through, breaking the mould by hiring from more diverse backgrounds. They could be using their ample resources to make financial investments into projects such as ours and build the support mechanisms necessary to onboard people well and set them up for success.

There is so much talent, ambition and willingness to learn amongst our candidates, but many corporates are unfortunately still too “safe” in their hiring practices, even in a talent-short market, which is so disappointing. Bias is a widespread obstacle and one which it is necessary to overcome if improving diversity and inclusion is to be more than just a token effort.

Proudest achievements

It has to be founding and running Opportunities Australia. Seeing the pride and huge smile on the faces of people when they say thank you is priceless! We have forged valuable connections with companies like Salesforce, Deloitte and EY to run job ready programs. We have also had the NSW Minister for Skills & Tertiary Education, Geoff Lee MP, at our first Aspiring Entrepreneurs event to present completion certificates to the graduates, which is a wonderful validation of both their efforts and ours.

Advice for current UNSW students?

Dream big and work hard at it every day. You will surprise yourself as to how far you can get. Keep philanthropy in mind no matter where you work or what you do – you can always find a way to help others along the way. I am always amazed by UNSW Chancellor David Gonski AC and his great work in education. I recommend following in his footsteps!

How can others get involved with OA?

We are always on the lookout for collaborators and mentors to help our clients prepare for work and find suitable opportunities for them. Many are open to contract work as well as permanent roles. Interested parties can also help out our aspiring entrepreneurs to establish their businesses and pave a path for success by sharing knowledge, resources, introductions, funding and investment opportunities.

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Kumar Raghav Jha is the Founder and CEO of Opportunities Australia

Degree and year of graduation:  Master of Advertising & Public Relations, 2011