Welcome to your best years yet

By Tessa Shaw

Melbourne Business School's official graduate student association, the MBS Student Association, plays a big part in welcoming students to life on campus. Find out what's in store for the coming year!

The support that the MBS Student Association (MBSSA) provides ranges from social activities through to career development opportunities, and is what the committee calls a safe place for students to network, and learn, outside of the classroom.

Originally from Ecuador, Vicente Tafur (Master of Management, Accounting and Finance) is MBSSA’s newly elected President for the first half of 2017. I sat with him to talk about his personal experience as an international student, and what his plans for the Association are.

Vicente Tafur
Vicente Tafur, MBSSA President, 2017 Semester 1

You arrived in Melbourne as an international student. What was that like?

I still remember deciding whether to pursue my Master’s in Melbourne, 25 hours away from home, even after being accepted to Melbourne Business School (MBS). I had so many questions! What if I cannot get used to life there? Is this what I need right now? I decided to plan a trip to Melbourne and get a feel for the city. Not everyone gets the opportunity to do this, so let me share what this was like for me:

After wandering around the historic Melbourne campus, running along the Yarra River, stopping for a coffee at a laneway café, and getting lost in the somewhat chaotic yet charming Queen Victoria Market, I knew I wanted to live in Melbourne for the next two years. It would be the right move for my career, and even though I still did not know anyone when I arrived, I knew I was going to enjoy my time here, and that I would work hard to achieve my objectives.

Not knowing anyone here must have been a little daunting! Would you say that MBSSA helped with easing you into life in Melbourne and at Melbourne Business School?

Definitely! MBSSA has given me experiences that have shaped me as a young professional, helped me gain useful industry knowledge, and made me ready for my career. Starting from knowing nothing about the city and the school, MBSSA gave me a safe space to speak up, to develop relationships, to make mistakes, and to grow. Through MBSSA, I have made friends from all over the world, friends whom I’ve enjoyed exploring the city and attending amazing events with, like the Australian Open, and I know that I will stay in touch with many of them even after graduation.

You have clearly enjoyed being a part of the Association! Is that why you decided to run for President?

Yes. In fact, I liked what it stood for so much, that I joined the committee and was successfully elected as Events Coordinator prior to my current role as President. During that time, I enjoyed leading a team of sponsorship officers and closing sponsorship deals, for example, with Deliveroo, but I knew I wanted to do more and was ready for the next step at the end of that term.

Being on the committee, I have learnt to value teamwork and the fact that different individuals bring different talents and the end product is always something we, as a team, can be proud of.  The MBSSA has shaped my experience as a student at MBS and my motivation is for the organisation to do this for all MBS students. I decided to run for President as I wanted to dedicate time to giving back and helping other students grow, while working with a team of like-minded, passionate people to make a difference at MBS.

As MBSSA President, what do you hope to achieve?

Mainly, I hope to have an impact on the experiences of MBS students by further developing our events and encouraging the student body to get more involved. It is my goal to exhaust our resources in expanding networking opportunities. MBSSA will listen to our students and deliver a range of opportunities that students feel they might need to accomplish their goals. I would also like to see the MBSSA serve as a platform for both students and alumni to interact and exchange ideas. Of course, we will still keep our regular suite of events: Looking to enhance your consulting skills? We will work with an industry sponsor to plan the MBS Case Competition. Want to get out of the city on the weekend? Join our Regional Tour. If you are an active person, we have sports events for you! There is something for everyone.

I would also like to say, at this point, that we understand that starting a new journey can be extremely stressful and hectic, so MBSSA is collaborating with the Faculty and MBS Ambassadors to welcome newcomers and offer a smooth, yet fun, transition.

I do not want to ruin the surprise, so simply know that this year’s Welcome Function will be an awesome night that people will talk about for weeks. Vicente Tafur, MBSSA President

It sounds like your committee have really put thought into hosting wide-ranging activities for the students. Which are the ones you are most looking forward to this year?

I cannot wait for the MBS Case Competition, it is a great opportunity to gain presentation, organisation, and problem-solving skills, and offers so many learning opportunities.

Let’s Talk is another one of my favourite professional events because it allowed me to get familiarised with economic events and ask questions of thought leaders and experts on the field, so I’m looking forward to that again this year!

And lastly, the MBSSA Boat Party this semester. What better way to unwind after hours of working on group projects or studying for mid-semester exams than to jump on a boat and enjoy the night with new and old friends, listen to solid tunes, all while cruising along Yarra river!

The MBSSA Executive Committee (L-R): Anthony Secoulidis (COO), Eliza Kelly (Vice President), Nadia Okraglik (Marketing Director), Vicente Tafur (President), Gwenaëlle Robert (CFO)

And I’m sure they’ll all be well worthwhile attending! Lastly, Vicente, do you have any messages for our incoming MBS cohort?

Well, first of all, welcome to MBS, and to my fellow international students, welcome to Melbourne! MBS has all the resources students need to develop the soft skills needed to excel in the real world, so you have definitely made the right choice in choosing to come here. From professional development events to opportunities to meet employers from various companies, MBS is simply second to none in industry exposure.

Also, what is there not to like about a first-world education in such a vibrant city? My advice would be to study hard because it will be challenging. Be dedicated. But do not spend 24 hours in the library; be adventurous! Explore Melbourne, the laneway cafes and restaurants, and take the time to visit regional Victoria, the farms, the wineries, and take in the scenery. You will enjoy your time here, for sure!

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