Florence Henaway and Joy Onyeledo

Joy and Florence decided to pursue their MBA degree together, not only to prove to themselves that they could do it, but to be a role models for other women and Indigenous people.

  • Location:
    Northern Territory
  • Industry:
    Community Services and Development
  • Programme:
  • Motivation:
    Develop knowledge and skills
  • Challenges:
    Long work hours
  • Year of Graduation:

Whilst you are never studying alone at AIB, from the dedicated team of academic and student support staff to the friends you make along the way, there is something exceptionally special about embarking on an MBA journey with the support of a colleague or friend. In this testimonial spotlight, we speak with Joy, Client Services & Intake Manager at Relationship NT and Florence, Commercial Operations & Development Manager at Helping People Achieve to find out more about their experience studying at AIB.

Joy moved from Nigeria to Australia in 2009 to pursue a law degree. She met Florence, Birra Gubba (Juru) woman, and South Sea Islander when she joined the Operations Team led by Florence at Life Without Barriers in Darwin.

Having developed a friendship over a decade, and dreading the thought of studying by herself, Florence suggested the two take the plunge and study their MBA together. Although Joy had only just finished her law degree, that didn’t stop her from taking on her next challenge and joined Joy at AIB.

How has studying your MBA helped you?


I think, for me, doing this MBA has enhanced my skills and knowledge. It has given me a better understanding of all areas of management and thinking strategically as well, too.


At the time, we were a part of the transition to NDIS. So, we went through that transition while we were studying. So, as an area of the business was being affected, we were learning about it. We’ve both now moved on from those roles and it has certainly helped us progress not only in our careers, but within our personal lives too.

Why did you choose AIB?


Through my cousin who was already studying at AIB. And initially I thought, I can’t possibly do it. You know, I have kids at home. I’m working full time. As an Operations Manager, it’s quite busy, especially in the disability sector. But my cousin reassured me, and that when I turned to Joy. I don’t like doing things alone, so I suppose I conned her into it!

How did you find the flexibility?


The amount of flexibility was awesome. You were always able to communicate to the lecturers and with other students online. And at the time there was a lot going in the world with covid and the restructuring of our workplace.


There were hard times, Joy lost her mother and I lost my step father during this time, but AIB was very flexible and supportive throughout the entire process.

Do you feel the MBA has contributed to your career success?


I have spoken with Flo before about opening my own business. And we were doing relevant subjects like Entrepreneurship, Leadership, and Operations Management and we were doing all our own research. I feel so much better equipped. I think I’ve said to Flo many times, I can do this, I know where to go now!


From a different point of view, being an indigenous woman, sometimes you have to work a little bit harder to be able to get to places in your career. And Joy, and I probably don’t have the networks like other women. So, for us, it was also about progressing in our own careers and being able to say, well, yes, we did it, we did it together, and we supported each other through that. I think that’s so important as Indigenous women that we get around each other and support each other when it comes to studying and progressing in our lives. It’s been about being a good role model to younger people, and to younger women.

Any advice to other students?


Great thing is that all the webinars are recorded and you can access them when you want, so you can pause and go back and forth. However, it is really good to attend them because you get the opportunity to ask questions, but again it’s that flexibility that’s great.


I agree, it’s really good to attend the webinars as there is no silly question and you can hear the perspectives of other professionals from different industries and get the opportunity to grow your network. I was worried about looking silly and asking questions, but there are no silly questions but there are great benefits from joining those webinars and asking questions.

You will always have support when you study at AIB, however, there is something particularly special about studying and growing with others. You may decide to study with someone you already know or make life-long friends along the way. Either way, you’re never alone at AIB.

Explore more AIB student stories.

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