2021 QBW Griffith MBA scholarship winners announced

Sean Jacobs, the overall winner of the 2021 QBW Griffith MBA Responsible Leadership Scholarship competition

The overall winner of this year’s Queensland Business Weekly (QBW) Griffith MBA Responsible Leadership Scholarship is a Griffith University alumnus with an impressive background in government relations and public policy.  

Papua New Guinean born, Sean Jacobs currently works as a Principal Advocacy and Major Projects Advisor at Moreton Bay Regional Council where he is helping to deliver the Council’s advocacy agenda and provide expert advice and project co-ordination for strategic interests including the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games and other major infrastructure projects. 

“The Games offer co-benefit opportunities for Asia-Pacific nations, and this is a relatively underexplored approach that I hope to use Griffith MBA skills to inform,” Sean explained.  

Inspired by a masterclass which all scholarship applicants attended, he added that Griffith academics got him thinking about developing a ‘social license to operate’. 

“The 2032 Games offer clear benefits in terms of positive local infrastructure and economic impacts. 

“I’m inspired to think about how the Games, through careful planning and responsible leadership, can be a vehicle for building trust in all levels of government and realising broader social, economic and cultural legacy benefits.” 

Sean holds a BA (International Relations) from Griffith and a Postgraduate Certificate in Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism from Macquarie University, qualifications from the Australian National Security College, the Australian Institute of Management and the University of New England. 

He is a former Brisbane City Council election candidate, ministerial adviser, United Nations worker, international youth volunteer and national water polo champion, also authoring two books in the last three years.  

Alex Bowen-Rotsaert. Image credit: John Hatfield for Space Design Competitions Australia

This year three applicants have been awarded partial scholarships, including Shelley Hartland, Head of impact and engagement at the Forward Institute in partnership with University of Oxford Rachell Hansen, a Project manager with the Department of Resources Queensland and Alexander Bowen-Rotsaert, Systems Engineer for Boeing Defence Australia. 

Rachell admits she’d already had her eye on Griffith’s MBA well before the scholarship opportunity arose.   

Rachell Hansen

“I (was) searching for an MBA scholarship and admired Griffith for its strong focus on sustainability and close collaboration with the Queensland Government (Queensland Climate Risk Symposium),” she wrote in her scholarship application. 

“This aligns well to my career goals to become a Chief Climate Action Officer, or a DG or Minister in this space within the next 10 years.” 

Shelley said the Griffith MBAs focus on responsible leadership was of particular interest. 

“I’m currently working remotely for the Forward Institute with the University of Oxford on a research project on Character & Responsible Leadership in Business,” she said. 

Shelley Hartland. Image credit: Rahil Ahmad.

“Speaking to CEOs and senior leaders for the UK’s major businesses has reinforced for me how responsible leadership and good character have the ability to significantly transform organisations and ultimately society.” 

In his scholarship application, Alexander shared how a seemingly incredible job offer made him question what he came to realise was a ‘narrow-minded focus on career progression’. 

“Businesses suffer from the same myopic focus on balance sheets at the cost of wider stakeholder considerations,” he said. 

“In almost accepting a job offer that didn’t truly align my with my goals, I realised that ‘purpose before profit’ ….. should drive decision making, both personally and within business.” 

MBA Director Associate Professor Stephanie Schleimer congratulated all scholarship winners and said Griffith’s MBA was different to traditional offerings because it was built on core values crucial to business leaders in the 21st century. 

Last month, Griffith Business School’s MBA program achieved top ranking in the Corporate Knights 19th annual Better World MBA Ranking, for the second year in a row. 

“Achieving the number one ranking in the world two years in a row shows the value of a business education that is focused on sustainability and responsibility,” Associate Professor Schleimer said. 

“The program develops critical thinking skills and supports students to identify creative and future-ready strategies to improve the world around us.” 

The 2021 scholarship competition offered a total prize package of up to $130,000.