Chinese alumnus, Dennis Zeeh completed the Master of Management (Finance) in 2012. Since then, he’s worked in a range of roles, in Melbourne, Sydney, and most recently, Shanghai. We spoke with Dennis to find out more about his experience, tapped into some valuable advice he has for new graduates.
You completed the Master of Management (Finance) program in 2012. Tell us a little bit about your experience, was there a particular highlight for you?
The Master of Management (Finance) program was a rewarding experience for me. It helped turn myself from a Bachelor of Arts graduate into a professional in a completely different area. This transition was aligned with my career interest, and it is the program that made the transition possible.
It was not easy for me to start from a rather artistic background to delve straight into a numeric environment. With the help from school teaching staff, peers and my own interest in this area, the learning experience turned out to be quite enjoyable.
Apart from usual studies in the university, I also attended a program called the ‘Volunteer Business Practicum’. In a group of four, we were sent to a regional Victorian town called Wodonga to conduct research and draw up the skeleton for a longitudinal research project that would eventually span for over a couple of years. I was deeply impressed by the four-week experience as it provided a real-life opportunity that trained and honed my problem-solving skills.
Why did you choose MBS for your postgraduate studies?
I chose the University of Melbourne because of its reputation, not only around academia, but also among employers. In particular, Melbourne Business School offered a suitable program for my background, enabling me to pursue further study in business-related subjects and to fulfil my career ambitions.
You were a Mentee, and then later a Mentor in the Career Mentoring Program. Do you think programs like this are important for young professionals?
To be more specific, I was a mentee in the Career Mentoring Program and later a mentor in the Career Mentoring Program. The latter was more about giving first-year students – especially those who were new to the university – study and life tips.
In the Career Mentoring Program, I was paired with an alumnus working in a senior management role at an international tyre company. Regular catch-ups were arranged, and our discussion covered a wide range of topics from study modules to career advice. I found these sessions useful not only to my study but also to my search back then for a career that fit me. It helped me aim my study more purposefully and envision the link between my curriculum and career path. I recommend the Career Mentoring Program to young professionals.
As an alumnus, have you been very involved with the University of Melbourne’s alumni networks?
After moving to Sydney and Shanghai, I joined the local alumni associations. Both associations were actively engaging alumni in events and functions, such as round table discussion, social drinks, dean’s dinners and other university or faculty related activities. These events provided good opportunities for networking, and for getting latest news on the university.
You spent some time working in Melbourne, then Sydney, before moving to Shanghai. What’s it like having that sort of international experience? Did studying in the MM (Finance) help you with approaching an international career?
The three cities have completely different atmosphere. That means the environment, city layout, pace of life and people. While each city has its unique surprises on offer, they also pose different challenges to people who have just moved there. Melbourne witnessed my transition from a student into a full-time employee. In Sydney, I had to build up my network from scratch. For Shanghai, I found the city totally different from what I had in my mind when I left seven years ago. The Master of Management (Finance) program has helped me a lot in securing jobs that fit into my career aspiration around those locations. Some of the subjects I had studied in the program helped me nail interviews and were actually the very foundation of my everyday work. All in all, I think the program is well structured and practical. It is useful to students who want to pursue a career in finance.
Do you have any advice for students who are about to graduate and launch their own careers?
My first piece of advice is one should know what they want. Take finance as an example, there are heaps of areas and branches in finance that can lead to very different types of success in this industry. Knowing what they are is the foremost step before one can decide which path to go down. Networking helps. Talking to people out in the field enables one to learn about opportunities and teaches one how to best present themselves for those opportunities. Having a strong tie with the alumni association also saves one a lot of time finding suitable people and opportunities. Lastly, one should be proactive in their career. Not only does this mean that one should work actively, it also means that they should actively reach out for opportunities they truly want.