For Brisbane’s Stephanie Oates, life is all about pursuing her passions. She has many, too many to mention, but at the top of her list sit her love for music, her belief in the value of teaching and a burning desire to protect the environment she inhabits.
Her passions have dovetailed delightfully with a colourful career that has taken the 33-year-old from the Northern Territory to Southeast Queensland to Central Queensland. She says each new pursuit is informed and underlined by the MBA degree she is studying part-time at the Griffith Business School which is focused on responsible leadership and sustainable business practice.
“I just love its flexibility of delivery and the structure of the MBA content. It is not just about learning content to a certain standard, it’s about the discussions and discovery of new ideas. That’s what education should be all about.
“It takes courage for institutions to make changes at a deeply institutional level. The ever-changing and constantly improving philosophy of the MBA really speaks to its students. People don’t have bread and butter lives, so that flexibility is refreshing.”
Stephanie started her MBA studies in 2009 while working in the construction industry. Her interest in the environment had piqued through her work as a sustainability manager on the airport link project, and subsequent spells as a learning and development manager and business analyst only propelled her interest.
She had previously worked as a music teacher, plying a very happy trade in Darwin and southeast Queensland. “I’m very passionate about education. It’s the best job I ever had. I was paid to share my love of knowledge with others,” she says. “I decided to leave teaching on a high. I didn’t want to become a crabby old teacher and I wanted a new challenge.”
Three weeks later she was in the construction industry, a change that would eventually and ironically lead her to the fly-in fly-out world of Emerald where she worked as a management consultant for almost two years. “I had to balance both short-term and long-term career plans with strongly-held, personal, ethical opinions.”
But her spell in the resources sector, where she used mediation and communications skills to link major mining business clients with other groups in the sector, also served her well in developing an understanding of how others saw the world.
“Meeting people from vastly different backgrounds opens your eyes to different perspectives. It’s not all about the type of content and information we can all access through Google. It’s the way people see things, whether it’s through a political lens, a symbolic lens, a personal lens. You learn to change your thinking through your interactions with these people.”
Stephanie says she has had a similar experience at Griffith University where changes in course work, changes in lectures, changes in public forums show a university catching up and keeping up with the needs of students.
With the backing of her MBA she is also planning to keep up with the needs of students through the establishment of a modern day music school that embraces and caters for the electronic age.
She wants to give music students the chance to learn how to become a DJ or work in production or develop the art of turn-tabling.
“I’d like to give students the opportunity and resources to do this. All high school students don’t want to learn classical music.”
She will shelve or postpone other options and pursuits to take her initiative on the road to Brisbane schools in the months ahead, applying knowledge and insights garnered from her MBA studies in terms of target market and turning a fledgling idea into a business reality.
“My understanding of responsible leadership is a key here. I’m big into music technology and there is a gap between what kids want to do in the classroom and the ability of teachers to deliver. I think this can make it easier for teachers too. It’s frustrating to see a student put off a subject because of the quality of delivery.”
Griffith University’s MBA endeavours to deliver effectively on the key values of responsible leadership, sustainable business practices and developing an Asia Pacific focus.