Hi Deep, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
In 2014, I came to Australia as an international student to study Bachelor of I.T. Soon I realised, I am a people person and cannot imagine myself being stuck in a room staring at a computer screen and therefore I decided to complete my Diploma in IT and shift to studying a Bachelor of Applied Finance instead. At the end of the second year at university, I wanted to gain some volunteering experience. I started to participate in lots of volunteering activities to make new friends, develop contacts and better understand my key strengths and skillsets . “You only get one chance to experience university life so make the most of it. Once it is gone, you will perhaps never get it back.”
Soon I received an invite from University of South Australia's Career Services to start a student-led society which would be called ‘Bright Futures Society’. I thought this was a fantastic opportunity and so I grabbed it straight away. 'Bright Futures' aims to help students prepare for their future careers by linking them with industry professionals. After getting elected as the President, I started to receive emails from Bright Future in the UK introducing themselves. That is when I realised that Bright Futures is UK’s largest student-led professional society. I was amazed by this fact and was determined to make great things happen in Australia.
Start with an idea and keep evolving, it does not matter how small or big it is. Believe in it, have passion and push forward and no one can put you down.
What steps did you take next?
In order to lead effectively I had to do lots of research to identify the underlying reason of why we existed.. When you lack experience, it is like having all the ingredients available but don’t know in which order to assemble it. In our case, we barely had any ingredients to work with, which made the climax all the more interesting. In the UK, we have 22 partners/investors to work with, while in Australia we had to build our contacts from scratch. We received support and help from UniSA Career Services and Bright Futures UK National team but it was up to us as to how to build our own roadmap and execute it.
(Glimpse from Pre-Networking Workshop with CPA Australia & Career Services)
When we got introduced to the UK team, it was already 6 weeks down the line and we had already planned our event, marketing campaigns and so on . The UK team helped us further evolve our plans and strategies. Our launch event was exactly 8 weeks after the 1st meeting which was a big step forward for us. We had famous industry professionals presenting there, and the event went well which helped us generate a lot of interest from students and employers. The event helped 2 students get job offers which was pretty cool. We realised we were going in the right direction, yet this was only just the beginning of things to come.
How did you overcome your initial challenges?
Soon , 4 to 5 out of the 6 committee members graduated after the launch event. Our society was still very young, so it was challenging to scout for high-caliber and talented students. The executive team would think that they are no longer part of our cause once they finish their term and it was someone else' task now,but i made sure that our team set everything up before they left that allowed the next committee members to shift in easily.
When you lack experience, it is like having all the ingredients available but don’t know in which order to assemble it. In our case, we barely had any ingredients to work with.
At the same time I had to train the new committee members about how to effectively communicate the message and vision to the other students and sponsors,how to think differently, and how to be passionate about what you are doing. There are over 90 student societies at UniSA.We needed to focus on what made us different - the positive impact we could make, and start thinking from a student's and sponsors’ point of view. Our students and employers were also engaged with our planning process to deliver the highest value to our members and maximise our sponsors’ investment..
Was it difficult to inspire a new team?
We are all volunteers, not getting paid to do what we do. It was definitely challenging at first to spark the passion for the cause and the society. This is why I believed in our cause and I told them exactly what I felt. I constantly pushed my team to come out of their comfort zone, to make sure that they would grow and improve themselves. I encouraged them to look beyond the short term. Think BIG to grow BIG. I had to create a collaborative environment among our members so different divisions would support each other. Everyone had an equal say for everything.
(UniSA Business School Recognition Event 2015)
At the same time I helped my team with their work by educating and mentoring them. I lead by personally doing a good job which in turn encouraged my team further. I try to inspire our committee members to come up with their own ideas so they would get more passionate in executing it.
Do you constantly strive to get better?
We always want to become a better version of ourselves, we might never reach perfection but at least we would constantly work harder. In our first event, there was no audio system (very embarrassing, right?) and so our speakers had to shout out their speech while we tried to maintain silence in the room. Likewise, students had to speak louder to ask their questions. It was shameful and very demotivating being our launch event. But we learnt from it and started using checklists for everything .If you don’t make mistakes, you won’t learn anything new . It is great to be perfect all the time but you would never be able to grow beyond your comfort zone. Even if we did a very good job, we knew that we could still strive for better results. If you want to grow then be prepared to face challenges. If the job is easy then you probably are not pushing it hard enough.
I am grateful to every individual who has been a part of this journey. You guys inspired and pushed me to grow, work harder and achieve more than ever before.
How did you manage your work-life balance and time management?
Back then, time management was easier said than done. I was studying full-time, working 20 hours per week and running 4 other projects. Every Sunday, I also volunteered at our community temple in the North. Subsequently, my weeks only had 6 days to get things done. I used to live with my family, and so I made sure I spared some time for them. I made sure that I picked projects I am passionate about so I could enjoy what I was doing. I was still learning to say “NO” to more project invites.
I had set myself targets to secure a professional job. By engaging in these many activities, I was able to grow my skills further that helped me stand out. I started out with a handful of curricular activities and things just naturally grew on from there. After a while, I like this was not too much for me to handle as it is became a part of my everyday schedule that I needed to do to achieve my goal. This way, I kept adding more stuff on my plate. It was demanding and challenging but if you did the exact same thing you wouldn’t be able to push yourself and evolve.
(At Careers Project Officer Jimmy Zamani’s farewell party)
What inspired you to keep moving forward?
My parents taught me to never give up and pursue things with a passion. Where there is a passion, there will be success. If I start working on something, I put 100% in it, otherwise why bother? If you love what you’re doing, you will never think ‘Oh it is Monday again, have to wake up early, do this and that’. The biggest motivating factor that kept me going was the passion and willingness to help people achieve their dreams and goals.
Working in the finance industry allows me to help people achieve their financial dreams. I find it fascinating about how global events can impact different economic sectors. Right now, I am focusing on finishing my accounting degree, working in the lending industry and saving up money for future investments. In the next 5 years, I hope to run my own finance and real estate franchise business.
If you want to grow then prepared to face challenges. If the job is easy then you are probably not pushing it hard enough.
What was the most important lesson you got out of this journey?
Fear of failure. Despite having all the right resources in place, most people fail to execute their ideas because they have the fear of failure. Looking back, our probability to fail was very high. Imagine having to replace most of your co-workers every 6 months.
(2016 Bright Future Society Legends)
People will laugh and try to demotivate you or raise some fears in you but you need to have the courage to believe in your idea and keep going. When I shared my vision of making this society Adelaide’s fastest growing student society by 2019, people laughed at me and were saying that we had no enough resource and experience. I told them “Wait and watch, I don’t know the answer yet but I know I am working very hard to get there”.
Start with an idea and keep evolving, does not matter how small or big it is, believe in it, have passion and push forward and no one can put you down. Challenges will always be there and it is up to you to push through it. We are operating for less than 2 years and already making a buzz in town, partnered up with 3 corporate firms – EY, CPA Australia and Kiikstart, having over 250 members, successfully hosted 5 professional events. Imagine if I gave up when people laughed at me, we wouldn’t be here now. Most young entrepreneurial thinkers today are scared of having people laugh at their projects. They doubt themselves too much. Never doubt your passion.
When there is a passion, there will be success. If I am going to start something I will put 100% behind it otherwise why bother?
Do you have any advice for students looking for job?
Everyone wants to enter the biggest companies but why not join SME's? They can give you great exposure to a wide variety of business operations whereas in a big company you only get to work in one division at a time. When I was working in Bright Futures, I had to be on top of all aspects which was challenging but also a great self-development opportunity.
It is a myth that small tier firms don’t get in as much applications but I know many small tier finance firm receiving over 300 applications after posting job advertisements on seek. You have less hoops to jump through and the selection process is fairly easier when applying to smaller organisations. Although networking works the best. It’s not only about who you know, it’s about who knows you! Employers are not just going to give you a job unless you can add value to their organisation. Put yourself out there and prove your worth and the opportunity will emerge.
(EY Career Grad Workshop)
Do you have any final thoughts?
I am just an ordinary student with Credit/Distinction grades, nothing special. Although Bright Futures Society helped me put myself out there and grab the opportunity when it came up.
I constantly pushed my team outside of their comfort zone to make sure they would grow and improve themselves. Same way, I suggest to readers to get out of your comfort zone, and do something which you’re not very comfortable doing. I picked up an Accounting degree as a challenge even though I knew I was not good at it, but now I started to get the hang of it.
I am proud to admit that I made lots of mistakes in the past because that is how we grow. Our achievements are made possible through tremendous team effort. I am grateful for every individual who has been a part of this journey. You guys inspired and pushed me to grow, work harder and achieve more than ever before.
When I had to leave BFS, I felt like I am leaving an 18 months ‘committed relationship’. I felt sad when the day came but like many other successful entrepreneurs having created amazing businesses and then sold it or handed it to someone else, it was my time to move on. I am very proud of our current management team and I believe that they will reach greater heights.
My story with our organisation has ended but I know deep down, that the next chapter in my life as well as for Bright Future Society will be even brighter. Don’t blink or you will miss it.
To find out more about Bright Future society go to http://www.mykindafuture.com/Society.
Check out their facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BrightFuturesSocietyUniSA/
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