From Malaysia to Melbourne

By Elena Ksefteris

Initially coming to Australia to study Engineering, Master of Management (Finance) alumnus, Joseph Lim changed his career course after a Summer internship and has not looked back. The Malaysian graduate chats about how he made the most of his Melbourne Business School experience.

For Melbourne Business School (MBS) alumnus Joseph Lim, the finance industry is his passion. He currently works as a foreign exchange (FX) trader in the Central Bank of Malaysia, where he is part of the team that manages the foreign exchange reserves of the country. Joseph’s team devise the investment strategies and asset allocation for the portfolio to grow the reserves to outperform their benchmark.

I’ve worked in various industries and I’ve come a long way to where I am right now. I have to say that my passion for finance means I really enjoy my work. I love the dynamic nature of trading currencies - it makes every day different.

Joseph shares his experience and some top tips for International students, particularly from Malaysia, to get the most out of their studies and set up for a successful career.

You initially came to Australia back in 2005 to study at Trinity College's Foundation Studies program, why did you and your family choose the city of Melbourne and the University of Melbourne/Trinity pathway?

My family and I visited Australia several times when I was younger and we were impressed with everything that Melbourne had to offer – its heritage, diversity, infrastructure, food and facilities, to name a few. That’s when it all fell into place. Deciding to study at the University of Melbourne was a no-brainer, it has such a great reputation, and although we considered several pathways to apply to the university,Trinity College's Foundation Studies offered a very balanced and comprehensive program.

Why did you choose to study a Master of Management (Finance) at Melbourne Business School?

For my undergrad I studied biomedical engineering but wasn't keen on working in research which seemed to be the main job outcome at the time. I took a chance on a banking internship in Hong Kong and really enjoyed the experience. It struck me that financial markets and trading was something I wanted to continue working in so I applied for the Master of Management (Finance) at Melbourne Business School.

In hindsight, the Master of Management (Finance) gave me many essential technical skills needed to succeed in my career. The subjects gave me a solid understanding of finance but also trained me to think from a management perspective.
Joseph Lim

You were very involved in student life when you studied at Melbourne Business School. Why did you get involved and what did you gain from the experience?

I regretted that I wasn’t an 'active' student during my undergraduate degree, so I joined the Melbourne Business School Student Association (MBSSA) as I wanted to meet new people and work on projects to enhance the experience of students at MBS. One of my key takeaways from this experience was people management. As I was the President of the MBSSA, it was challenging for me to manage a team of people from different backgrounds in various projects and activities. I also learnt a lot about marketing and interpersonal skills as I was involved in projects with students and corporates through social and networking events.

Tell us about some of your highlights studying with Melbourne Business School?

The main highlight for me was definitely the Global Business Practicum and Melbourne Business Practicum subjects with banking giant NAB. The Practicum subjects allow you to work in a small team of MBS students on a consulting project for a company. I did one in Melbourne and one in Shanghai. The opportunity to work and experience the culture in a foreign country was a priceless experience. The subjects were also very practical. I learnt how to manage a team to deliver realistic solutions fand to manage client’s expectations within a tight deadline. While it was a little stressful at times, I’ve made so good friends and connections through both subjects.

After you graduated from Melbourne Business School you worked in Sydney as an Analyst for Excelian and then Westpac bank before returning to KL. What are your top tips for international students on finding jobs in Australia?

From my experience I've got 3 main tips for international students looking to work in Australia:

  1. Join networking events and career mentoring programs: You never know which career pathway you might take so having a mentor is a really good way to find out more about different industries. MBS offers a mentoring program and my mentor was not only very experienced, he would also connect me with some of his colleagues and contacts so that I could reach out and gain a better understand of what they do.
  2. Participation in extracurricular activities: Employers don't just look at your academic skills but also interpersonal, teamwork and problem-solving skills.
  3. CV perfection: Students should also ensure that their CV is error-free and easy to read for potential employers. I’ve utilised the University's career services to help me improve my CV, cover letter and interviewing skills. These services are free and tailored to suit individual needs so make the most of it.

What is your advice for other Malaysian students thinking about studying in Melbourne?  

Melbourne is a real cosmopolitan city and Malaysians who are thinking of studying in Melbourne should transition easily as there are some similarities between the two. There is a large network of Malaysians in Melbourne, particularly through the Malaysians of Melbourne University Club so there really is no problem finding someone who is from your hometown.

What do you miss most about Melbourne or Melbourne Business School?

I have to say that I miss Melbourne’s coffee the most. Don’t get me wrong, there are many great cafés in Asia but I have yet to find one better than the coffee in Melbourne. Being spoilt for so many years in Melbourne has made me quite picky with my coffee. I also miss the diversity of culture in Melbourne. You get to meet people from all over the world and taste some of the best authentic food. Some of the food is better than the ones we get here in Asia!

I also miss being part of the Melbourne Business School. I was really impressed with the facilities, libraries and the passion of the all the university staff members. If I could, I would definitely return to contribute to the faculty in the future.

Melbourne Business School runs information days in cities all over the world. Visit the MBS Events page to find out where we will be next!