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Student Story: On the Path to Becoming a Global CEO

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This article is sponsored by University of South Australia

Arvin Navarro was right in the middle of building his marketing career in the United Arab Emirates when his mother asked him an unexpected question: had he ever thought about studying in Australia?

At the time, Arvin’s mother was working as a nurse in Abu Dhabi (as she had for the past thirty years) and his brother was already living in Australia. After many years apart, his mother hoped that if Arvin moved to Australia, the family could be reunited.

Although his family is originally from the Philippines, Arvin had spent a lot of time studying and living in Abu Dhabi and still calls both places home. But the decision to make a new life so soon in yet another country was something he didn’t see coming. 

“Honestly, I wasn’t thinking about moving to another country at that time since I’d only barely started my career. I was getting paid to do what I love and consistently growing as a professional,” he says.

“But, I’ve also always dreamed of pursuing a degree overseas since I was young. I’ve always wondered what it would feel like studying in such a prestigious country like Australia. So, when I considered the advantages of getting a degree overseas and being with my brother, I thought to myself, ‘Sure, why not?’”

Why an MBA?

Arvin knew a postgraduate qualification could give his career a huge boost. He had received his Bachelor Degree in Communication (majoring in Advertising) in the Philippines but hoped to take it to the next level with a degree from one of Australia’s world-renowned universities.

Initially, he planned to only study marketing, but after doing some research and talking to friends and family, he settled on an International Master of Business Administration (majoring in Marketing) at the University of South Australia, due to its international recognition and endless career possibilities.

“The MBA is known to be a great program to develop research and management skills and knowledge of the international business landscape, which are vital in pursuing my dream of becoming a CEO of a multinational enterprise or in establishing my own marketing firm,” says Arvin.

Adelaide living

Moving from big bustling metropolises like Abu Dhabi and Manila to the small, laidback city of Adelaide was initially a bit of a shock for Arvin. But, he has grown to love his new home.

At first, he couldn’t believe how empty Adelaide’s streets were on weeknights and that most local shops close at 5.30pm. At home, Arvin used to stay up late and sleep in, but in Australia, he’s since become a morning person.

“I’m getting more accustomed to a simpler lifestyle and I’m beginning to see the positive side of it,” he says. “I get to spend less and save more money, and I have nothing to distract me from giving my best in pursuing my degree.”  

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Luckily, “Adelaidians” are friendly and happy to help newcomers settle in. Arvin often finds himself chatting with people on the street and sharing his experiences with other students. 

“I love the fact that Australia is a culturally diverse country,” he says. “People from different cultures have the freedom to express themselves here. The idea of Australia as a ‘global village’ is always comforting for an international student like myself.”   

Plus, Adelaide is perfectly situated to explore Australia’s world-famous natural wonders, so Arvin has been able to visit some of the country’s hidden gems.

“Road trips are probably the best thing that you can do here in South Australia. Australia really has a lot of attractions other than those commercialised tourist spots that everyone knows about, and you can only see those on a road trip.”

University life

Arvin has made the most of the opportunities at the University of South Australia, taking part in sport and social events. While Adelaide may be a quiet city, Arvin says he’s more likely to run out of time than activities to get involved in.

He is also constantly challenged through his studies, thanks to the University’s strong marketing faculty. The university is home to the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, the largest and one of the most well-known marketing research institutions in the world. Here, Arvin has taken the most engaging and interesting courses of his academic career.

“Even though I already have work experience in the marketing industry, I always get to learn something new.”

The MBA also provides opportunities to network with successful people in the industry and establish connections that can be incredibly useful in the future. The program also emphasises the importance of internships and has supported Arvin in developing his professionalism in the workplace.   

Advice for students   

Now, Arvin’s down to his final semester and working to secure a marketing position in an international workplace where he can put his new skills to the test. Currently, he works as a marketing specialist/consultant for a family-owned business in Adelaide.  

Whether he ends up working in Australia, Abu Dhabi or the Philippines, Arvin has no doubt that his future is bright and that he is well on his way to achieving his goal of becoming the CEO of an international marketing firm.

“As clichéd as this may sound, I truly believe that a person should never stop learning – as much as they can and in any way possible,” he says. “If an opportunity presents itself, just grab it, even if it takes you out of your comfort zone because as long as you put yourself in a position to learn, it will all be worth it. That’s exactly what happened to me.”