Why MBA: UWA Business School — Perth

Former non-profit and mining sector worker blazes trail on full-time MBA

Rylan Nielsen is one of the first cohort of students to experience the new full-time MBA program at the University of Western Australia.

Born in Perth but raised in the US, Rylan graduated in economics from Louisiana State University before moving into a marketing and development position at Neighborhood Centers, a non-profit organization working to improve the local community in Houston, Texas.

He then returned to his birth-place, landing a role at Australian engineering services company Calibre Global, and working on a Rio Tinto mining project.

As the mining boom slowed, Rylan jumped at the opportunity to pursue an MBA. Part of a tight-knit group of only twenty students, the aspiring business leader is enjoying going through the new program for the first time.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at this stage in your career?

I actually started planning to study an MBA at undergraduate level. Rather than pursuing a master’s degree in a specialized field, an MBA was better suited for the well-rounded experience I was looking for.

What was the hardest thing about the MBA application process?

Most students would say the GMAT!

Personally, I found giving a presentation during the interview the most strenuous. Although I had given presentations in the past, they were not part of my role working for Calibre and my skills were a little rusty.

Why did you choose to study at UWA in particular?

I wanted to be a part of UWA’s first cohort in their full-time program; to blaze a new trail and set the standard for what future students can achieve.

Family and friends spoke very highly of life in Perth and the offer of an elective concentration in resources was very attractive to the career path that I wanted to follow.

What stands out about campus life at UWA?

UWA has a fantastic campus.

I love taking a break from studying and strolling across the street to Matilda Bay. It’s so serene to sit by the waters of the Swan River with Perth’s CBD in the background, and to watch black swans, dolphins and sailboats pass. It helps alleviate the stress that a full-time MBA program can bring.

How have you profited from your experience so far?

The level of corporate support for the program has been astounding. UWA has really delivered with the opportunity to talk to the executive leaders of Woodside, Shell and BHP about strategic leadership in the resources sector.

The real high point has been the mentorship program where I’ve been partnered with an external relations manager for a large energy company. It has been incredibly valuable learning from his experiences working across a number of countries and about the interplay of industry, government and local communities in Australia.

Who is the most interesting person you have met?

A real standout was having the world-renown medical practitioner Dr. Fiona Wood give a talk to our cohort on how to solve complex leadership issues in changing environments.

She was awarded Australian of the Year for her work in inventing spray-on skin; a skin culturing treatment greatly assisting burn victims and their recovery.

What are your plans for the future?

My long-term goal is to hold a senior commercial position in an international resources company. From a very young age I have enjoyed working with individuals from all over the globe and with my background in economics I have the ability to see the bigger picture.

I really enjoy the lifestyle and work environment here in Perth and think this would be an excellent location to build a career.

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