The Express Lane

By Seth Robinson

The Bachelor of Commerce represents a ticket to the life many students have always wanted. For international students, it’s an adventure in a new country, new experiences, and new opportunities. Whether domestic or international, students studying at the University of Melbourne have bought themselves a one-way ticket into the express lane.

Alvaro Koc Fong travelled from Lima, Peru, to study in the Bachelor of Commerce (majoring in Finance) at the University of Melbourne. He came knowing that he’d been accepted into the number one university in Australia, beyond that, it was a leap of faith.

“I didn’t actually know what was going to happen, or what to expect. I’d seen the headlines, and that was enough for me. I wanted a new experience, and the chance to maybe have a career in Australia. I wanted to learn, and I wanted to get some work experience.”

Alvaro didn’t waste any time throwing himself into Melbourne life. While studying he worked at Campos Coffee, first in their warehouse, then running cupping sessions.

- Alvaro Koc Fong.

“They have tasting sessions every day as a quality control procedure for the coffee that was roasted the day before. It’s a huge process, with a table that has twenty different coffees from various regions/origins, and you have to be very specific about when to pour the water and the amount of time you let it brew. You have to break the surface, taste, smell, it’s a whole thing, but it’s an incredible experience getting to try coffees from all around the world.”

Caffeinated and ready to go, Alvaro made the most of his time by joining groups such as the Accounting Students’ Association (ASA). He also spent time working with Mutual Trust Pty Ltd, an integrated financial services firm, before going on to do honours in finance.

“Doing honours was great, I bonded with this fantastic group of 30 or 40 other students. You’re all going through this intense, challenging process. It’s a chance to dig deep, and really engage with what you’re studying. In my case, it was investigating the effect of corporate governance on the lead-lag relationship between options and stock markets.”

Upon finishing his honours thesis, Alvaro received his permanent residency, a hurdle that he’d been waiting to clear before entering the job hunt. With that out of the way, he applied for, and was offered a graduate position with Transurban.

“Transurban – as part of the Sydney Transport Partners consortium – just acquired WestConnex, Australia’s biggest road infrastructure project. I’ve had the chance to be involved in the integration of this enormous acquisition into the business model and our current business processes. With major Australian cities now experiencing rapid population growth, infrastructure has become crucial to maintain liveability standards for the community. It’s been incredibly interesting to be a part of this project and see the role finance broadly plays within infrastructure.”