Multifaceted, transformative, and ever exciting, the business sector offers a wealth of opportunity that transcends global borders. If you’re an international student studying business, this may have been one of the things that attracted you to such a degree. It was for Ali Syed, Academic Director at Charles Sturt University Study Centres, who moved to Australia several years ago to pursue his Master of Business Administration.
“The management strategies and people-centric approaches I learnt during the degree transformed my leadership career,” he says. With over 25 years of experience in the public-private education sector, Ali now leads a team of roughly 70 sessional and 15 full-time academic staff in his current role.
Speaking to Insider Guides, he shared his top tips for students preparing to launch their careers in the business sphere.
Use a holistic approach
Although students can develop a niche, Ali recommends first strengthening their abilities across core business sectors, such as economics, management, and human resources, to build a solid knowledge and skill base.
“A leader in the current environment needs to have a holistic understanding of the essential functions of business. Niches keep changing so [students] can’t look at specialisations first. They need to [focus on] their [core] skills and grow in those areas. As long as you have your basic set [of skills], your toolkit is there [and] you can add to it at any time.”
Examine from a global perspective
Ali encourages students to consider global perspectives when practising change management. Whether you’re assessing new business threats or opportunities, these factors could instigate change within the sector – and it’s important to broaden your horizons when considering how you will handle and embrace such change.
“If you have a global perspective, the whole world is your oyster,” says Ali. “For example, in India, look at the entrepreneurship model that has come out. A large number of successful people who graduated with IT skills have now gone into their own businesses [there] and this is because they understood that India has a critical strength in terms of low-cost labour in IT infrastructure.”
Prioritise social responsibility
Social responsibility plays a significant role in determining the success of a business: it can bolster a company’s public image, empower staff, and boost morale. That said, it also plays a huge role in determining the success of your own career: “If you don’t take an approach that is environmentally or socially responsible, it could be the end of your career. A person needs to understand – whatever I do, I have to look at the wellbeing of the society around me. If [a product is] socially or environmentally hazardous, a manager should be able to say no.”
Whether you’re preparing for an interview or launching your own business, familiarise yourself with socially responsible practices, such as charitable donations or reducing your carbon footprint, and prioritise them in your planning and decision-making.
Consider an MBA
There are plenty of attractive reasons to consider pursuing a Masters of Business Administration (MBA), including its global scale of recognition and the level of qualification it affords students hoping to fill upper managerial roles.
“An MBA is one of the most prized degrees across the whole world,” says Ali. “With a master’s degree, it pushes you into a higher echelon of being capable of managing [at higher levels]. The more qualified you are, the better your chances of getting a managerial position.”
Consult online resources
Always be in the know and on the lookout for new developments in various business sectors to familiarise yourself with the opportunities currently available and to forecast new ones that may be available soon.
“Students should look at recruitment sites such as seek.com.au and various others such as government [online job postings]. They could look at management periodicals that are being published and articles that are coming out about the future of management, the future of HR, the future of marketing,” says Ali. “The more they read, the more they’ll understand where the industry is [heading].”
Develop your online presence
In addition to consulting online resources to familiarise yourself with business developments, it’s important to ensure that employers can familiarise themselves with you too. A great way to do this is to create an online professional profile that showcases your skills and goals to recruiters. Ali reveals that businesses are increasingly assessing these online profiles to see if a candidate is a good fit for a position.
“Develop a profile on LinkedIn,” he advises. “[Students] need to contact their academic or work-related supervisors to ask, ‘Can you [endorse] me or recommend me on those critical skills that are important in business?’ Formal recruiters are now looking at LinkedIn and the skills match. So, if someone has recommended you and you have seven out of the ten skills that [they are looking for], you already have an edge in the market above others.”
Use a long-term goal-oriented approach
Ultimately, your level of success will be determined by your capacity to meet the goals you set for yourself. So, start setting both short-term and long-term goals as soon as possible. Also, be sure to consider how your short-term goals will aid you in meeting your long-term objectives.
“In most interviews, an interviewer will ask, ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’ This question has become obsolete. Five years is a very short time to think about your career in that sense. A person should have certain goals for themselves and [ideas of] where they want to see themselves not just in five years but basically when they want to finish their career,” says Ali. “Set your three to five-year milestones, but always have the bigger picture in front where you can see where you’d fit in all of these goals as stepping stones to get to the end goal.”