The future is global

VC, Chancellor with guests speakers at London alumni event

Photo: UTS Vice-Chancellor, Professor Attila Brungs, Joshua Haagsma, Jeremy Basset, UTS Chancellor, Catherine Livingstone AO, Supun King-Jayawar and Myf Ryan.

UTS gathers its international alumni to address the future of work.

Henry SimIn today’s workforce, many UTS alumni will find themselves based in regional offices around the world. With nearly a third of its graduates working outside of Australia, UTS enjoys the enviable reputation of being one of the world’s most international universities.

This year, UTS has travelled to Hong Kong, New Delhi, London, Shanghai, Manhattan, Kuala Lumpur, and more to reconnect with its international alumni, and also to showcase the strengths and successes of its international talent.

At each reception, UTS’s leading international alumni, many of the CEOs, directors and influencers at major brands and startups from around the world, shared their insights into the future of the workforce. With futurists claiming that 50 per cent of the jobs in 2030 are yet to exist, and that most people will change careers around seven times in their lifetime, the discussions highlighted that fluency in technology, adaptability, and excellent problem solving skills are the keys to success.

“It’s essential to keep abreast of current developments, especially in cities, so that we are able to keep pace with change, and identify opportunities for growth – both in business, and professionally,” said Henry Sim, CEO of Red Dot Urbanisation Development. A guest speaker at UTS’s Shanghai reception in June, Sim stressed that the rapid economic and urban development of countries like China has resulted in a range of emerging needs and opportunities for the workforce.

“Change management is absolutely key. To do this well, no efforts must be spared in closely tracking market developments.”

Similarly, Janet Chan, director of luxury sales for the North Asia division of AccorHotels, believes that in an increasingly globalised market, learning the ability to adapt and a strong appreciation of cultural awareness is a critical leadership skill required for success.

Janet ChanChan, who also spoke at UTS’s Shanghai reception commented, “For me, it’s the ability to adapt and have an understanding and respect of other cultures that has been essential in my career.

“Having spent most of my life in Sydney, I would say working and living in Cambodia, Fiji and now China are all very different but unique in their own ways. In order to lead coming in as a ‘foreigner’ you need to earn their trust, and the best way is through effective communication and to lead by example.”

Both Sim and Chan credited their time at university in providing them with solid practical skills and the critical thinking required to succeed in the professional sphere. In June, UTS Vice-Chancellor Attila Brungs hosted a reception at the Commonwealth Bank Innovation Lab in London where nearly 100 UTS alumni heard from panellists including Jeremy Basset, CEO of CO:CUBED, Supun King-Jayawardana, head of the CBA’s Innovation Lab, Myf Ryan, chief marketing officer of Westfield, UK & Europe, and Josh Haagsma, head of production at Tigerspike.

As a startup and innovation specialist, Basset said that the leadership skills essential for professional success – regardless of location, sector, industry or organisational size – include an entrepreneurial mindset, a collaborative approach, and an “intrigue for what’s next”.

“The pace of change will never be as slow as it is today and it’s vital that we’re equipping and empowering our leaders with a passion and capability to embrace the future,” he said.

“The leadership skills essential for professional success include an entrepreneurial mindset, a collaborative approach, and an ‘intrigue for what’s next’.”

“The rise and fall of large organisations has never been more accelerated and it’s vital we ensure our organisations are positioned for long-term prosperity. This requires an ambidextrous leadership capability which involves simultaneously managing the old while embracing the new.”

Speaking at the event, UTS Chancellor Catherine Livingstone AO, emphasised that the ‘soft skills’ learnt at university were crucial for success as graduates moved from industry to industry. “It’s the absolute focus at UTS to make sure that as a professional you graduate with a very strong portfolio of soft skills.”

Each reception has proven to be fertile ground for many new opportunities across a diverse range of disciplines; and it is a community that UTS hopes to grow.

Senior academics and leaders at UTS often host more intimate receptions for a select group of international alumni, where deeper discussions can be had about mentorships, community-building and professional networking.

This year’s gatherings have included:

  • New Delhi reception with Dr Sam Bucolo, Professor of Design Innovation at UTS.
  • London reception with Professor Ian Burnett, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and IT at UTS.
  • Manhattan reception with Professor Mary Spongberg, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.