Everyday Heroism in Action: Discovering New Horizons with the MBA
Many of us spent our childhood years in awe of heroes like Superman and Batman. The Avengers. Wonder Woman. As children, we thought that heroes were superhumans who won epic battles, and defended innocent bystanders from nefarious villains. In reality, it’s a little harder to define what a hero is. Are people born heroes? Is it a gift? Maybe it’s more accurate to say that being a hero is a job to be worked on over time. An intimidating slab of rock to be chipped away at, to carefully reveal what’s beneath the surface. And the obstacle to be overcome isn’t always a shadowy villain. It’s usually our own doubts about ourselves.
Do you have a dream that you want to achieve, but you’re nervous to start working on? At one time or another in our lives, all of us feel that way. Despite outward appearances, many heroic people are scared and uncertain. It’s difficult to contemplate taking on a new challenge – especially when our lives are already so demanding. If your big goal is to study, how can you take on that kind of workload, on top of our day job? It’s fair to think that a commitment to more education seems crazy. So crazy… that only a hero might do it.
Emily Korir is one of our heroes. She graduated with her MBA in Human Resources Management in 2016. She thought a digital study model would work to her advantage, and she was right. Although she had 3 years up her sleeve if she needed it, she wanted to complete the MBA in a shorter timeframe. She sounds a lot like most of our students! Except for one thing. Emily enrolled in our MBA after finishing 12 months of stroke rehabilitation.
“I’ve dreamt so many nights of that hat. It’s changed my life. And to do it in front of my children – it’s such an accomplished feeling. It’s made us stronger as a family unit. It’s taught my children that if we stick together, we can do anything.” – Emily Korir
Emily was at home one night in 2012 with her family (a husband, 7-year-old daughter and 8-month-old son) when she experienced a stroke. She awoke from a week-long coma having lost her speech (and a lot of memory) and experiencing paralysis on the right side of her body. Gradually her motor skills returned. Her support system of family, friends and health care workers was vital in the rehabilitation journey. After 6 months, Emily could remember her children and count to 3. After 8 months, she could count to 20 and use her phone to type a word. After 12 months, she told her speech pathologist she wanted to do an MBA.
When Emily announced her plans to go back to school, the pathologist was concerned. She reminded Emily of the stroke and its impact. That it would forever change what she could realistically expect of herself. She encouraged Emily to consider which aspirations were short-term goals, and which ones were long-term goals. An MBA is a long-term goal, she said. But Emily insisted that she wanted to try. So she did. Because of her circumstances, Emily knew it was important to find a school that was flexible, practical and supportive. And she had to believe in herself throughout the journey, even when it was challenging.
“Only you can stop you. There’s never a perfect time. Make time for what matters, and if this matters to you, give yourself permission. The MBA has done so much for my credibility as a professional [and] is shattering the ceiling for me.”
Although the obstacles Emily faced meant that it was impossible to study on-campus at one of Australia’s many universities, she followed her heart and pursued her dream. In 2016 she graduated with her MBA. She’s now a core part of disability support services across Australia. She’s the director of her own NDIS consulting and advocacy service; an NDIS Business Development Manager at Anglicare SA; and heavily involved in advising on disability support across the country. She has overcome the obstacles in her own life so she can help others to experience dignity, independence, and a better life. To us, that’s heroism in its purest form.
Brett Ferguson is another one of our AIB heroes. An electrical engineer by trade, he enrolled in an MBA to broaden his business knowledge and open doors to new opportunities. Brett had ample industry experience, but he felt something extra was needed in his CV for him to build a successful management career.
I’m not sure I would have been looked at or given the opportunity of my role without the qualification. I’m a bit more confident in how I project myself from what I’ve learnt through the MBA journey. Being able to bring it to the guys that I look after out in the field is really powerful.
Brett undertook his secondary studies at Cannon Hill Anglican College and worked part-time in food and hospitality. Following graduation, he became a Crew Trainer with a knack for training others, and later a Shift Manager with skills in quality control, logistics and payroll. His decision to leave work and study a Certificate IV in Electrical Instrumentation at TAFE NSW secured him a position with Powerlink Queensland.
Brett is now in his third role with Powerlink. He’s progressed from Field Test Engineering Officer to Protection and Metering Section Leader and, most recently, to Secondary Systems Field Manager. Brett’s knowledge of power systems, data networks and safety frameworks helps him lead the team in providing exceptional support services. He has achieved 15 years of service there as of July 2019. The MBA has helped to develop his interpersonal, organisational and leadership skills – and his confidence.
“It was a pretty steep learning curve. I don’t come from a very strong academic background, although once I started understanding what was expected of me and required, I started to hit my stride.” – Brett Ferguson
Brett received support from fellow students and academics at AIB through online communities and forums. This feedback was crucial in helping him on his MBA journey and steering him in the right direction. He now shares his knowledge with his team. For Brett, and for us, knowledge isn’t something to be hoarded. It’s the key to making things better and brighter for ourselves and for others.
Being heroic is something we all do from time to time, whether it’s in big or small ways. Mustering the courage to do something brave in front of people can be scary. Sometimes it can be even harder to tackle a challenge when nobody’s around to see us fail, because it also means there’s nobody to cheer us on. When you study, you’re often alone. But having a support network behind you is critical to success. If students are struggling to rally the support they need to make it to the finish line of their journey, we’re always there to encourage them.
Joseph Campbell, an American Professor of Literature, spent decades researching what makes a hero and why they’re so important to us. He tried to understand how they think, act, and behave by examining their shared attributes, their differences, and their motivations. He realised it was crucial for the individual to go on a hero’s journey, because nobody starts out as a hero. They must go on a journey to become one.
Like Emily, who set herself a goal of conquering something that seemed out of reach – and then made it a stunning reality. And Brett, who took the leap into higher learning despite being new to the world of postgraduate study.
You can be your own hero too. The hardest step on any great journey is the first.
Click here to get the AIB MBA information pack and chat about your career goals with an AIB Course Advisor.