Studying business opens up a lot of doors – to boardrooms and banks, to a versatile career and financial security – but sometimes, one of the greatest virtues of business is underplayed. Studying in the Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) gives students the skills they need to make a positive impact on society. For Jeffrey Xia, this was a driving factor behind his studies.
In this job, I get to meet a number of exceptionally driven, insightful people. I enjoy hearing and telling their stories, in fact calling it a “job” is a stretch. That said, when it comes to putting the story together, following the leads, asking the questions, tapping the keys, that usually falls to me. Jeffrey Xia was the exception to this rule. He reached out to me, and before our interview, he set aside some time and wrote a reflection. It was clear he knew what he wanted to say. He’s a man on a mission.
“Before we start, I wanted to quickly talk about why I reached out. The main reason is that I wanted to tell my story, to not only encourage people to get involved and be proactive throughout their degree, but also to look at the ways in which they can make a positive impact on society,” he says.
“When I was younger, I was an active youth ambassador for World Vision and the Red Cross. Through these experiences I saw organisations and governments as mediums that could facilitate social change. I realised that instead of assisting one person or community at a time, the most effective way to make a genuine difference is to leverage the social impact potential of these institutions. This is why I chose to study commerce – it provides an opportunity to have a systematic impact by transcending the traditional borders of business, policy and social impact.”
Jeffrey threw himself into university life, looking for opportunities to cross those borders, inside and outside the classroom, domestically and internationally.
“The University of Melbourne gives us lots of opportunities to engage and make a positive impact, it’s all about taking those opportunities and giving it a shot. I was lucky enough to go on exchange to the University of California, Berkeley, where I learnt about public policy and organisational behaviour. It also gave me the chance to start forming friendships all around the world. In January 2019, I took part in the Global Management Consulting (GMC) Program, where I went to work with MSIG Insurance in Thailand. My group worked on developing digital recommendations to streamline the MSIG customer journey.”
Jeffrey also made the most of the extra-curricular opportunities on offer, joining and leading groups including 180 Degrees Consulting, Cainz, Junior Chamber International, World Vision, Oaktree and CHASE. He is also a Co-Founder of ‘Folding Our Futures’, a social enterprise aimed at inspiring a new generation of ‘changemakers’ through in-school programs.
Now, Jeffrey is thinking about his future, looking at how he can go about making the positive impact that has motivated him so far.
“In the short term, I would like to pursue an honours year in economics. Following that, the plan is to do some further study in development economics and public policy, and then work at a consultancy or an international financial institution. I think to drive that high-level change I need to be in the trenches. I want to understand the processes and the systems behind them.”