Nawaf Almutairi is a soon-to-be graduate in his Masters of Management (Finance) course. His background is in Chemical Engineering and got his degree a while ago in the United States before working in several years in the oil and gas industry. During his work as an engineer he realised he needed more management and finance skills which led him to his choice in coming to Melbourne. He was very impressed in the degrees in finance and their curriculum. At other schools, there were other courses in technical finance with not much focus on soft skills and management consulting skills or there were courses with just emphasis on management consulting. I wanted to have the nice and unique balance between very technical finance skill and managerial and business acumen skills.
Why did you choose the University of Melbourne for your Masters?
As I mentioned, the course offering was really unique. I’ve looked into so many universities in the US and Europe and none of them really managed to impress me the way that Unimelb did. Added to that fact is the prestigious ranking of Melbourne and the prestigious reputation among universities. It was very important to me to get a good education, solid skills from a prestigious university which has a well proven record of supplying graduates with required skills of the market.
After working, living and studying in places such as the US, UK and the Middle East I wanted to explore a new place in the world. So I said, let’s try Australia and part of my reasoning is that I wanted to study in a unique place. It’s far apart from the rest of the world, it’s close to Antarctica, New Zealand and Eastern Asia. Obviously COVID came an that did not go so well but it’s still an amazing place that I get to explore.
Which events held by the University were the most helpful for you?
I’ve attended several workshops during my first semester, pre-COVID. I don’t recall the exact names but I found that the workshops with speakers invited from the University were very useful. There were some workshops on accounting software which were very beneficial. Finally, I did enjoy the guest presentations from EY Consulting very interesting.
What challenges did you face during your course and how did you tackle them?
As I mentioned earlier, after finishing my engineering degree I worked for several years within the industry. When I came to Unimelb in 2019, it was a very interesting and unique experience because it had been several years since I had studied, did exams and assignments. In a working environment, we were able to focus on specific tasks but when I came to Unimelb, I was doing four courses, each one had several assignments and exams and so many things to juggle around and balance. Beyond studying, I came to Australia to experience a new culture so that was a challenge.
First of all, I hate assignments but I really appreciate them because they are really the best way to make sure you learn the material and apply the knowledge. When I did my course in Engineering in the US, the focus was on short homework which you did every week and midterms and exams. There were not not much hands-on experience, business cases and long assignments. So even though I hate assignments, I think they are an amazing tool for the University to help students learn and apply their knowledge. After a very busy semester with lots of midterms, assignments and exams I felt proud that I had passed with good grades.
With COVID, we lost the opportunity to interact with staff and other students. It wasn’t really as engaging as my first semester, but that’s understandable because the whole world was in lockdown. Going forward, I think I’ve managed to strike a balance between allocating time to do tasks and study as well as time to live my life and enjoy Melbourne.
Any advice for our students?
For existing students, I’ve found that it’s very important to strike the right balance between doing your assignments and living your life. More importantly, you need to start the semester with 100% potential and put more time and effort in the early weeks of the semester. In the first 3 or 4 weeks the subject goes through the foundational material and if you don’t understand then you will suffer for the rest of the semester but if you master them, it will make your learning experience much better.
For incoming graduates, is don’t be shy when it comes to engaging and asking questions to the lecturers. This is the opportunity to ask questions, even if they sound stupid but realise this is a learning environment so you’re meant to ask to ask the stupid and weird questions here. In a few years when you go into the industry, you’re expected to answer these questions. The Unimelb instructors really enjoy and encourage these questions and promote engagement amongst students. Don’t shy away from engaging with your instructors and other students from different backgrounds. It’s important to interact with people from other cultures and backgrounds in a global economy. Our differences in backgrounds are the reason and catalyst to help us grow and become better.
Thank you to Nawaf for the time taken to share these wise words on Humans of MBSSA!