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Doing the day-to-day with purpose: Adding value with an MBA

Deakin MBA Director, Dr Paul Harrison, sits down with alum Nicole Sheikh who shares how her MBA helps her add value at work and beyond.

Tell us a bit about your yourself? 

I am a curious lifelong learner, an avid reader, love being active and a knitter. I like to spend my days connecting with people in as many ways as I can. As an accountant, a consultant, an MBA graduate, a non-executive board member, a mum, wife, friend, and a small business co-owner. 

My happy place is when I can link what I am doing day-to-day with my purpose, to make the world a better place for other people. I love both numbers and words and have found a way to bring them together in what I do every day. Most recently I’ve worked with the leaders and teams responsible for the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out across primary care and am currently working with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission on the Governing for Reform in Aged Care program. 

How did you get to where you are in your career? 

Hmm I would like to say it’s been planned and strategic, however, that’s not the case. I started my career as a receptionist in a tiny accounting firm. Simply filling my gap year trying to decide what to do. I fell in love with the professional corporate world and 20 years later, here we are. The sliding door moments have been triggered by either personal crisis or organisational restructures and in those moments, I have been guided by my values, said yes to opportunities and I’ve been comfortable running my own race. I’ve trusted my instincts and chosen the path that felt right for me. 

What motivated you to do an MBA? Was it something specific or more general? 

A few reasons. I have been in my current place of work for a long time, and I was eager to meet people from all walks of life and career experience. I wanted to challenge myself, learn from others and explore the value I can add outside of my ordinary world. I also enjoy business and love studying so it was always on the cards.  

What are three things that you believe worked well about Deakin’s MBA? 

Contemporary content that is transferable and relevant to my day-to-day context. 

Meeting such interesting, capable, and intelligent people including my peers, unit coordinators and the guest speakers. Deakin created a safe environment for us to constructively challenge and learn from each other.  

The perfect mix of flexibility and structure. I enjoyed the weekly touch points to maintain connection along with the flexibility to fit in the reading and assessment work around my schedule. 

How do you define success? 

Living a life that is true to who you are. What that looks like is different for everyone. For me, it’s being curious and constantly learning. It’s working on meaningful projects that effect positive change in our communities and for the people I’m working with. It’s living simply, spending time with interesting people, laughing, and experiencing new things. 

Now that you have graduated with your MBA, what is next for you? 

I am at the point in my career where it’s less about promotion and financial reward and more about giving back and building the capability of people around me. Graduating with my MBA, I walked away with meaningful relationships, increased confidence, and an understanding of how I can add value in different contexts. Now the adventure begins of searching for the different ways I can do this. So far, it’s been joining the board of a social housing organisation, joining the advisory board of the Deakin MBA program and mentoring. From here, who knows?! That’s the exciting part. 

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