After a number of promotions, new opportunities plus a Dean’s Merit and Valedictorian Award, Selma knew studying an MBA was the right choice to accelerate her career growth.

  • Location: South Australia
  • Industry: Government & Defence
  • Job Function: Business Development
  • Programme: MBA
  • Motivation: Job promotion
  • Challenges: Academic writing
  • Year of Graduation: 2020

Many business owners start off in the corporate world, then only make the move of owning their own business once they have a number of years under their belt, sometimes decades. However, AIB MBA graduate and Coordinator Economic Development, City of Charles Sturt, Selma Barlow, has done this in a slightly less conventional order.

After studying for her undergrad and masters in Chemistry, with two colleagues, Selma started up an environmental consultancy, Oceans ESU Ltd, that specialised in cleaning up contaminated land and wastewater treatment projects. After taking the company global, and building the team to over 30 professionals, Selma made the change to local government when she moved to Australia from the U.K. After 5 years, Selma was ready to take her career to the next level and decided to study for her MBA, would be the way to get her there.

Not only did she succeed in her mission to complete her MBA and grow her career, but she did so with flying colours. After a number of promotions, a Dean’s Merit Award, and a Valedictorian Award under her belt, it’s safe to say, she picked the right path to accelerate her career growth.

In this interview, Selma shared with us her insights into studying an MBA and how she has achieved success to date.

What was your motivation to study?

I’d been running my own business for 20 years, and just made a career change and moved into local government when I moved to Australia. And that was the point. I’ve been working in local government for the last five years, and really want it to get to that next level, which is why I decided to do the MBA.

When did you last study?

I had studied probably over 20 years ago I did a degree in chemistry, followed by a masters. However, I had had a very big gap in education while running my business.

What were your fears prior to starting?

Probably, my biggest fear was probably the writing side of things. Having studied chemistry, it was very analytical, very science, obviously maths based. So that actual putting together reports and writing were probably my biggest fear, I would have thought.

Any advice to others fearing the same?

My advice to future students will be to trust the process, the tutors, and the facilitators, are absolutely fantastic. They’ll guide you through. The first subject of leadership is a really good introduction to studying. And it’s a really good introduction to writing.

Do you attribute any success to your MBA?

Within the first year of starting the MBA, I got my first promotion. Within a couple of years, I switched jobs again. Another promotion again, which was fantastic. And it’s given me the confidence to pursue other opportunities and really stretch myself. And when you mentioned that you’ve got an MBA or people look at an MBA on your resume, it opens doors for you.

Would you have changed anything about how you did your MBA?

Thinking back on the studies, I would definitely have started earlier, if I’d of had the chance. It would have been really, really beneficial for the business in understanding the processes making some of those tough decisions early on. It would have been a great opportunity to grow the business even bigger.