Could you give us a bit of background about yourself?
I spent a little over five years at Melbourne Uni, studying a Bachelor of Commerce with a concurrent language diploma in French, an Honours year, and a Master of Commerce.
I currently work at Crescent Capital Partners, which is an Australian private equity firm based out of Sydney. Before moving into finance, I spent three and a half years in strategy consulting at A.T. Kearney. Both jobs have provided great platforms to apply and translate half a decade of education into practical outcomes.
What did you appreciate the most about your time at MBS?
Reflecting on my time at University, one thing I still appreciate is the teaching style, particularly in my years as an Honours and Masters student. There was a strong focus on digging deeper analytically, rather than purely rote learning answers (which is still important). A few seminar-style subjects (Advanced Management Theory, Advanced Strategic Management and Advanced Marketing Communications) were great examples of where the lecturers focused on teaching us how to think, rather than what to think, which was incredibly formative. In a professional context, where rote learned answers are few and far between, these skills have been incredibly helpful in structuring, analysing and ultimately solving complex problems.
What was something that helped you perform at your best while pursuing your education at the University of Melbourne?
Early on at university, there was a tendency for me to follow a pattern each semester which involved meticulous upfront planning, not following the plan, doing a week 12 sprint finish to complete 4 subjects in 8 days and ultimately wonder why I abandoned the original plan. While I got away with this at times, it certainly wasn’t a recipe for ‘repeatable success’. Cramming all your tasks for the exam period may seem appealing, but it can be counterproductive and when it doesn’t work. It can remain a permanent reminder on your transcript, and if you’re unlucky, can end up as a question in an interview (“Why did you score X on subject Y?”). Building a habit of constant study can be challenging, it certainly was a first for me, but it will go a long way in helping you manage your time and studies. It also translates well to professional life, where competing deadlines and multiple stakeholders remain an ongoing challenge.
What subject did you enjoy the most at university?
The subject that I enjoyed the most during my studies was the Global Business Practicum, which gave me the opportunity to work for an Australian retail bank in Shanghai for two weeks. I was exposed to a new industry, working culture and a group of people I didn’t know. Although I didn’t know it at the time, it was a great introduction to what management consultants do day-to-day; and what I ended up doing for the first few years of my career.
What was your most memorable experience at university?
Going on exchange to Norway has been an experience from the university that I cannot recommend enough to current students. Although no two exchange experiences will be the same, I’m yet to meet someone who didn’t have an amazing time. For me, the standout was the life-long friendships that I made. This time last year I went to two weddings in Oslo and Salzburg of friends that I met eight years ago in Bergen.
What advice would you give current and prospective students at university?
A piece of advice that I have for current and prospective students is to pursue subjects that you’re passionate about, or subjects that you feel will be practically useful in your career. Resisting the allure of a subject that you think will be ‘an easy H1’ might be difficult, but at the end of the day a strong transcript with difficult subjects you loved will be much more rewarding than one with subjects you can’t recall
What advice would you give to recent graduates looking to enter the workforce?
For recent graduates, I would start by saying that getting a job is not easy and might not come from the first application. When you are applying to jobs, it is worth being systematic about it. I’d suggest creating lists of employers of differing ‘priorities’ so that you focus your attention on a few companies at a time, and to the extent possible that you apply to different employers in ‘waves’– so if plan A fails, you’ve already got a plan B, C and D. For those graduates interested in management consulting, investment banking (and any other professions with demanding recruiting processes), I strongly suggest treating the interview process like a subject. For me, management consulting cases didn’t come naturally so taking time to prepare cases really helped in the interview room, where the format and types of questions differ greatly from the more traditional “tell me of a time when you…” – although I did learn this the hard way, discovering what a case interview was in one of my first professional interviews during my undergrad!
All the best!
Master of Commerce
If you’d like to ask Nicholas more about his experiences, connect with him on LinkedIn and mention you saw his Alumni of MBSSA interview.