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Global Mobility Lures International To MBA In Visa-Friendly Australia

Hassan Mounzer, a full-time MBA at UWA Business School in Perth, is one of a growing number of overseas managers benefitting from Australia's relaxed immigration policy.

By  Seb Murray

Sun May 31 2015

Australia’s business schools have gained appeal as western economies such as the UK and US have rolled out visa curbs, making it harder for international MBAs to find jobs.

Hassan Mounzer, a full-time MBA at UWA Business School in Perth, is one of a growing number of overseas managers flocking Down Under for careers.

He enrolled in the MBA in January this year. Before that, he worked as a geotechnical and geomechanical engineer across Australia including for Fugro, the Amsterdam-listed Dutch energy services provider, and in France for a division of Grenoble Institute of Technology.

Hassan, who speaks three languages, says the MBA is a cultural and academic challenge. A diverse cohort provides international exposure.

As Australia tries to expand from a resources-based economy, he sees opportunity to launch a new career in the nation. Australia’s relaxed immigration policy is a bonus. The favourable weather and pristine beaches are also a hit with Hassan.

Why did you decide to begin an MBA degree?

After several years working as a geotechnical engineer, I became more interested in the business side of the company I worked for, especially management and marketing.

My fascination with direct client interactions and strategy development has motivated me to move from a technical role to a business [management] position.

I decided to join the full-time MBA at UWA as it will strengthen my skills, by teaching me formal methodologies, and it will help me broaden my thinking by interacting with classmates from different working backgrounds.

What’s it like studying as an international MBA student In Australia?

Being an International MBA student is an exciting challenge, as you need to adapt quickly to an education system that you have not experienced before, and be part of a highly-qualified group of students.

Are there any drawbacks?

I was pleasantly surprised to discover a very well-designed MBA program with great consideration for the quality of the lectures and the students’ work-life balance.

Moreover, support for students and their needs comes from a very dynamic administrative team, which makes sure the program evolves to adapt to students’ needs.

What were your main concerns about studying in Australia as an international MBA candidate? Do you still have them?

English was my main concern about studying in Australia. I was worried I would not be able to express myself properly, or I would misunderstand lectures, as English is my third language. For this reason, the first semester was very important. I needed to check where I stood. But the results were positive and they helped boost my confidence, and motivated me to finish this challenging MBA.

What makes Australia — and Perth — a unique destination for an MBA?

Australia is actively working on expanding its economy from a resources and energy-based economy to include other sectors. This transitional process relies on an innovative, professional and motivated workforce that is willing to embrace the challenge.

Therefore, Australia offers exceptional opportunities to MBA graduates.

Perth, with its awesome weather, multiculturalism, pristine beaches, great public transport and stress-free vibe, offers a unique and perfect place for MBA students.

Australia has more favourable visa laws than the US or EU. Is this attractive? Do you intend to work in Australia post-graduation?

Australia offers unique opportunities for international students with its more “relaxed” and student-favourable visa laws, compared to other western countries. Having experienced the long and complicated student visa procedures/restrictions in France, I find Australia an extremely attractive place for students.

Australia offers great post-graduation job opportunities and I’m looking forward to working in this beautiful country. In the long-term, I would like to use my multicultural background to help Australian businesses expand internationally.

You come from a background that is engineering-heavy. Has it been difficult to adjust to business management?

To be a successful MBA candidate, it is necessary to have the technical skills as well as the social skills needed to be a good manager.

To ensure the presence of these skills, UWA selects future MBA candidates not only based on their GMAT results, but also on a personal interview.

By passing the selection process I was able to show that I can adjust to business management, even with an engineering background. Today, I can confirm that the adjustment to business management is not as difficult as I had thought. I am really enjoying it.

Are there any skills which are transferable?

Working in the engineering field has helped me develop a logical and solution-oriented way of thinking. This method has proved to be very helpful to me in understanding the different problems encountered in business management.

How important is it for MBAs to have an international perspective and how can business school help to develop one?

The MBA helps create future leaders. To achieve this, it’s very important to not only teach the qualitative aspects but also to help students better understand the world that they are going to work in.

Giving students an international perspective during their MBA is extremely important.

What are your future career plans?

After finishing my MBA I would like to join a big company and work as a business development manager. In the long term, I would like to be the CEO of a company.

I would also like to broaden my international work experience by working in Southeast Asia before returning to Australia.