Humans of MBS: Whitney Zhou

By Tessa Shaw

This coffee nut shares many a Melburnian’s love for coffee. What else keeps her moving? Find out in our fourth article of this series!

Whitney Zhou

This week, we chat with Master of Commerce (Management) student, Whitney Zhou, about our famous coffee scene, her globetrotting ways, and her experience at Melbourne Business School (MBS). The avid traveller, who craves seeing life through an international lens, has been to far-flung corners of the world, sitting in the shadows of Mount Everest’s peaks, walking the streets of London, and mingling with puffins in Iceland, but still calls Melbourne home. She perfectly summed up the world-class nature of MBS with this statement: “In this globalised world, an appreciation for diversity and cultural differences is incredibly important, and this is definitely developed here at MBS.” Here are some excerpts from our conversation.

So… Melbourne’s coffee! You’re a fan, I take it. Have you always been a bean hunter?

I’ve loved coffee from an early age, but I don’t think I had fully appreciated or become so reliant on it until this year! Although, in saying that, during my travels and also in my semester abroad in Shanghai during my undergraduate studies, my cravings for a Melbourne coffee certainly hit me hard! You really forget how lucky we are to have such excellent coffee all over Melbourne!

Do you have any favourite cafes?

If I’m at uni, you’ll find me and my KeepCup at either Seven Seeds, Stovetop or Haymarket Place at least once a day. I also have a couple of favourites in the CBD. Higher Ground is a standout – I love the high ceilings, the greenery, the atmosphere and of course, the coffee. The League of Honest Coffee is another one I’d recommend, and, luckily for me, it’s just down the road from where I work at the Australia China Business Council. Top tip: it has toasties to die for!

We are lucky to be on a campus that has some of Melbourne’s best coffees! Talking about being on campus, part of your time here has been serving as Marketing Director for the Melbourne Business School Student Association (MBSSA). What was this like?

Being Marketing Director for the MBSSA was an incredibly rewarding experience. I led MBSSA’s marketing efforts with the help of my talented team of five, promoted 15 events, and also led MBSSA’s weekly Humans of MBS and Instagram-takeover initiatives in a short 4 months. What is it like to be on the committee? It’s extremely busy! However, it’s worth it – I know MBSSA plays a really important part in enhancing the student experience here at MBS and in being a core part of the association, I’ve not only been able to help with bringing a unique MBS experience to students, I’ve also further developed soft skills, such as prioritising of tasks and stakeholder and relationship management, which will greatly help me in my future work.

My favourite part of being the Marketing Director has been witnessing each of my team members produce fantastic work, pushing themselves out of their comfort zones, and making new friends within and outside of the committee. It was both truly humbling and incredibly fulfilling for me.

Your joie de vivre is inspiring. How do you feed this enthusiasm?

I love travelling, and have been lucky enough to visit some amazing places. Last year, I visited Nepal and hiked up to Everest Base Camp. Eating momos and dahl bhat with locals while surrounded by mountains meant I experienced a whole new culture and way of life. I never would have thought I could make it up to the summit of Kala Pathar, sitting at 5545m above sea level, but getting there was one of the biggest achievements of my life so far. This mid-year break, I went on a 5-week backpacking trip around Myanmar and Europe. My favourite moments included riding scooters at dawn around the temples of Bagan, watching the sun rise from a deserted temple in Myanmar, visiting the Tate Modern Museum on a rainy day in London, exploring Amsterdam by bike, and renting and driving a sleeper van around Iceland for a week, sharing the wilderness with flocks of puffin birds who were just centimetres from me! While I was nervous about travelling to Europe solo, I was really surprised by how much I valued the freedom and thoroughly enjoyed being in my own thoughts and going at my own pace.

Thanks for sharing! You have a real curiosity for life and its many lessons. Do you think that MBS adequately develops this in any way?

Yes, definitely. We’re lucky here at MBS to have access to fantastic resources, learn from extremely experienced and passionate lecturers, and be given the opportunities to apply classroom knowledge and skills in real-life environments through subjects like the Global Business Practicum (GBP) and the Melbourne Business Practicum (MBP). Another big win, to me, is that we get to work with people from all over the world, from our international cohort of students and academics, to being immersed in global opportunities through subjects like the GBP. As cliché as it sounds, it’s honestly the people here at MBS that make it so special and they spark that curiosity in me. My lecturers have been such an inspiration to me –  their commitment and passion drive me to be a better student and person in general. And there are all the wonderful friends I have made here! Being surrounded and supported by so many intelligent, ambitious and friendly individuals has made my first year at MBS very memorable, and has developed me in ways I would have never had imagined.

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