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On leadership and learning

For Deakin Business School (DBS) student Joshua Ball, Deakin delivers a ‘multitude of opportunities’ that stretch beyond a versatile, double degree.

By studying a dual-discipline degree, Joshua Ball believes he has the best of both worlds: pursuing a passion for international relations while combining it with a highly-recognised, career-focused commerce qualification.

But his Deakin studies have also delivered what he describes as ‘a multitude of opportunities’ including global, industry and leadership learning.

Josh has just completed his penultimate year of a Bachelor of International Studies/Bachelor of Commerce (majoring in economics) at the Geelong Waterfront Campus and says he chose Deakin because it offered a unique learning experience.

The chance to travel abroad, learn from a diverse range of thinkers, be part of a community, tackle various work experience opportunities … the university is committed to developing globally-prepared students who are ready for an uncertain future.’


The end of Josh’s third year also concludes his year-long term as 2019 president of the Geelong-based Deakin Commerce Students’ Society (DCSS).

Reflecting on a challenging but rewarding year, he says one of his first goals as president was to lift the level of DCSS student engagement through a successful marketing campaign.

‘Additionally, we connected with the wider community through the Lions Club, raising money for various charities and donating the proceedings of one of our social events to Future 2 Foundation, a charity of our main sponsors the Financial Planning Association of Australia.’

To ensure a welcoming and inclusive DCSS environment, Josh and his team have also worked alongside first-year representatives, helping them find opportunities through career, social and volunteer events – an experience that he says has been the highlight of his presidency.

‘Mentoring students at the beginning of their university journey has been incredibly humbling … the executive DCSS team is proud to feel like we’ve made an impact in their growth. It’s encouraging to know that society will benefit from these outstanding and intelligent students leading into the future,’ he says.

In another Deakin leadership role, Josh is Director of Student Engagement with the DBS Alumni Chapter where he builds networks between students and alumni to build a positive and connected university community.

‘This has given me a fantastic opportunity to develop relationships with hardworking and high-achieving alumni … it’s given me insight into future career paths and allowed me to develop meaningful connections with industry leaders and graduates,’ he explains.

Across-the-world learning

Internships, industry experience and international opportunities have played a key role in Josh’s study journey.

As a first-year student, he was part of a successful accounting internship that explored the financial feasibility of solar panels in three Geelong schools – a project that eventually delivered one of the schools a $150,000 government grant.

‘Contributing to such an important project – despite our previous inexperience – showed that hard work and persistence can pay off into something truly remarkable,’ he recalls.

In second year, Josh joined a DBS study program at the Shanghai University of International Business and Economics where his learning covered international business, economics, supply chains and logistics, and cross-cultural communication.

‘This was my first professional experience abroad and it enabled me to develop cultural understandings and how to conduct business appropriately in a multi-ethnic environment.’

He later participated in a six-week internship in Sri Lanka interviewing academics, civilians, activists and public servants about the country’s almost 30-year civil war for a three-part research project.

In mid-2019, Josh and fellow student Reid Hadaway represented Deakin’s Faculty of Business and Law at the 2019 University Scholars Leadership Symposium in Malaysia where they joined more than 1000 students from 500 global universities to explore the challenges of 21st century leadership.

The week-long experience included activities with young Malaysian-based refugees and reinforced Josh’s commitment to learning more about leadership with empathy.

‘As leaders, the ability to empathise is crucial as it is one of the first steps to understanding an issue and resolving it … we learnt that there is always an opportunity to grow and become a better leader,’ he says.

On-the-job learning

While studying, Josh has held a casual role with CPA Australia where he’s been offered a range of valuable industry opportunities.

‘This includes representing CPA Australia professionally in the Geelong region, participating in the CPA Geelong Branch Committee meetings and acting as a brand ambassador at university events and expos,’ he says.

Currently, he’s undertaking a summer internship with ANZ to further build on his Deakin learning.

‘My studies have provided me with practical and analytical skills that are applicable to both the public and private sector and across almost any career in business.’


As he prepares for his final year of study, Josh’s advice to prospective – and current students – is on the value of perseverance.

‘If you’re rejected from a role or a job opportunity, try to understand what you can improve on for your next application. Or if you receive a disappointing grade, talk it through with your lecturer. Through every mistake is an opportunity to learn,’ he says.

And when it comes to leadership development, Josh believes the key lies in building relationships.

‘Don’t just network with people, attempt to develop a relationship … follow up, connect and always try to find ways to help others in their pursuits. Develop a network that is thinking about you and can also lead to possibilities for practical or leadership experiences,’ he advises.

‘University provides a fantastic way to meet new people … take advantage of the opportunities and understand how you can grow from them.’