Though he spoke very little English when he began primary school, UTS alumnus Simon Malian found his voice through computer programming and created a path that’s led him all the way to Harvard University under a Menzies Foundation scholarship.
The son of Armenian parents who migrated to Australia before he was born, Simon found it difficult to communicate with those around him. Computers, though, just made sense. His first computer was a salvaged Commodore 64, and he taught himself to program it, creating an Armenian-language puzzle game that he shared with his friends. This first taste of the real, personal impact of computer programming whet his appetite, and he lodged his first patent – for a digital warranty system – as a teenager before being accepted into the prestigious Bachelor of Information Technology (BIT) scholarship program at UTS.
“I see myself continuing the theme of developing initiatives that lower barriers via the innovative application of technology,”
Graduating in 2005 and at just 29 years of age, Simon’s achievements and impact are extraordinary. Through his BIT internship placement with IBM Consulting Services, he improved a predictive stock analytics system for a major department store and helped develop the prototype of an online banking platform for Australia’s largest bank.
After a subsequent internship placement with Westpac Banking Corporation he took up employment with them, including some time as Advisor to the Chief Information Officer, where he worked on a critical initiative to develop algorithms measuring the success of their financial products. A high-profile project role with the Commonwealth Bank followed, before pursuing an opportunity to work on the Australian Government’s National Broadband Network Initiative.
Alongside his corporate career achievements, Simon’s passionate commitment to making a difference to the lives of others through social entrepreneurship continued to flourish. As an intern with IBM Consulting Services he saw charities struggling to help others but being held back by lack of access to the right tools, and was moved to establish The Malian Foundation, a charitable foundation that provides technological and management consulting services for the not-for-profit sector. A decade on, his online service has helped 2,500 organisations in 50 countries with tasks like volunteer development, online presence and fundraising.
Eager to grow the impact of this work, Simon has applied his analytical mind to a new business model, removing some of the constraints of the existing structure to set up a new foundation, called Golden Hint. Its distinctive client-to-client support model will see charities support each other with ideas and advice. “Then they’ll get credit that they can use in a mini service economy,” he said. “It’s that little idea that helps them move forward.”
Simon heads to Harvard University for the 2014/15 academic year, where he will undertake a Masters in Computational Science and Engineering with a focus on the intersection between economics and computation and on social enterprise. “I see myself continuing the theme of developing initiatives that lower barriers via the innovative application of technology,” he said.
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