In 2015, Nikhil Devgan arrived in Australia from India to begin a postgraduate degree at Deakin in sport management. He knew no-one and had no experience in the industry.
Three years on, Nikhil has made a remarkable transition into Australian life. Not only has he successfully completed his degree but he’s also notched up valuable work experience with some of Australia’s leading sporting bodies, built a strong network of friends and industry connections, and landed a fulltime role with Gymnastics Australia, the governing body for the sport of gymnastics in Australia.
Nikhil says his decision to first move to Australia to study a Master of Business (Sport Management) wasn’t an easy one and came after an undergraduate degree in engineering followed by a career in in the finance industry.
‘I first studied engineering but wasn’t really keen to continue on this career path so after graduating, I took a job with a private trading finance firm where I worked for six years trading commodity futures. For three of those years, I started and managed my firm’s first ever sports club,’ he says.
With a lifelong interest in sports of all kinds, Nikhil decided in 2014 it was time to change direction and explore the potential of his sports passion as a career.
‘I started with a couple of internships and found out that a master’s degree would accelerate my career trajectory. So I researched sport management programs in US, Europe and Australia. Based on various factors like language, culture, ranking, location and post-study opportunities, Deakin’s Melbourne campus soon became an obvious and easy choice,’ he says.
Living on-campus and making a wide range of friends and connections, Nikhil quickly learnt to understand and adapt to Australian culture, lifestyle and language.
‘It gave me the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and create lifetime friendships. I also managed to balance a busy life that included studies, part time job, regular volunteering, and graduating with distinction,’ he says.
Nikhil credits the sport management experience he gained during his studies as a key factor in cementing his learning and preparing him for employment.
‘I first completed an internship with AFL Victoria, working on the first-ever women’s state level football league (Women’s VFL). It was a great learning opportunity to work with one of the Victoria’s largest state sporting organisation,’ he says.
Even though Nikhil had six years of professional work experience in India, he says the internship was an important introduction to Australia’s working and sporting environment.
‘It is quite different to India and it helped me prepare for full-time job opportunities. Within a week of completing my course I was placed at my current job and I know my experience at AFL Vic was major factor in my selection.’
In his full-time role as Sporting Schools and Participation Officer with Gymnastics Australia, Nikhil is now responsible for overseeing the coordination, promotion and implementation of the organisation’s Sporting Schools Program.
Sporting Schools is Australia’s largest school-based sports participation program. It’s a $160 million Australian Government initiative designed to increase children's participation in sport and connect them with community sporting opportunities.
Nikhil says the opportunity to work and learn with the national governing body of one of the growing sports (gymnastics has seen year-on-year athlete membership growth for 13 consecutive years) enables him to contribute towards enabling young Australians to develop fundamental movement skills.
‘This is a sound basis for further skill development across all sports. It also offers the challenge to continuously improvise and adapt to the ever-evolving sports industry.’
In addition to his fulltime role, Nikhil also works as an official (linesperson) for Tennis Australia and has just completed his second Australian Open.
He acknowledges the huge milestones he’s made in the past three years and the opportunities offered through his Deakin degree.
‘Deakin is a trusted and reliable name that has helped me at every step of the way to crack into a tough and competitive industry,’ he says.
‘Further, it boasts a strong alumni network which is the hallmark of any good postgraduate program. Deakin has a strong presence and relationships with Indian and US sports market which opens many global opportunities around the world for both domestic and international students.’