Fuelled by First Nations Pride: First-In-Family University & MBA Graduate Shifting the Paradigm in Shipping

Fuelled by First Nations Pride: First-In-Family University & MBA Graduate Shifting the Paradigm in Shipping
Kira Seeley QUT MBA Graduate & Managing Director of WRL Shipping

There are some people in life, who no matter what they do are destined to take the road less travelled and change things for the better wherever they end up. This perfectly encapsulates the career trajectory of Kira Seeley who is currently the Managing Director of WRL Shipping & Co-Founder of catering company Heart to Harvest.

Breaking Down Barriers

Kira proudly identifies as a First Nations woman, which makes the fact that she was the first in her family to not only surpass Year 10, but graduate with one of the most prestigious degrees – an MBA from QUT – even more significant and rewarding.

“It (education) wasn’t something that had much emphasis placed on it by my family – not because they didn’t see value in it, but because they never thought about it as an avenue for any of us because they never explored it themselves,” said Kira when thinking about the first step she took into the unknown.

Kira attributed her post-high school desire to travel as the reason why she worked for her family’s business and gained experience so quickly.

“As with many family businesses, you get handed a lot of responsibility a lot sooner,” she said.

Need For More Structure

Thinking about her motivation for pursuing an MBA, Kira mentioned that she became tired of the high expectations, stating that there was pressure on her to “just fill in the gaps” at the family business.

After quitting her family’s business and working with another freight-forwarding company, Kira explained that she got a taste for a more corporate style of freight-forwarding and identified a lot of areas that needed improvements.

Compelled To “Do Better”

As her own management experience increased, opportunities emerged to manage and set up teams in the UK and the Netherlands. This exposed Kira to management on a global scale. With this experience, she realised that she could expand her skills and started looking for pathways and avenues to do just that.

Influenced by peers who had gone to university to become lawyers, or meeting colleagues internationally who had degrees, Kira said “it was very clear that they have something additional to just hands-on-experience, that propels them further.”

Securing Her Future With QUT’s MBA

 Kira shared that her decision to study an MBA at QUT came down to the fact that she not only wanted support with her career at the time, but also the desire to secure what she might do in the future.

In addition to providing confidence in her existing capabilities, it gave her a sense of security that she could do whatever she set her mind to.

Kira believes that her MBA learnings allowed her to venture out with her own catering company Heart to Harvest, and take over the family shipping business and run it as efficiently as she’s running it now.

A New Type of Leadership Retains Vital Staff During Turbulent Times

The MBA that Kira completed in 2017 continues to shape the leader she has become. She said that unlike ‘old school management and leadership styles from 20 years ago,’ the MBA taught her what it means to work in teams in the current context of work, how to work together effectively and understand the psychology behind peoples’ actions.

One area that she is consciously trying to change as a leader in the Australian shipping industry is the expectation of round-the-clock availability and never being able to switch off from the job.

“I feel like I care more about that because I personally have been impacted by this old school style of management and I know that it’s not the right way to manage people into the future,” she said.

Kira’s leadership style is clearly resonating with her staff. She proudly told MBA News that despite a lot of problems faced by other companies in terms of labour shortages over the last three years, the fact that she has been able to retain her team is a testament to the skills and learning she’s applied from her MBA.

Transforming Professional Life

 Thinking about the impact that the MBA has had on her life and career, Kira said “My MBA provided me not only with tools and techniques to be competitive in an ever-changing global business landscape, but also the knowledge and confidence in how to effectively apply them.

“It has completely altered the way in which I approach, assess and react to both challenges and opportunities in my professional life. I believe for the better,” reflected Kira.

Applications are currently open for QUT’s MBA, Executive MBA and Digital MBA programs. Find out more about the MBA suite and apply here.

Jess Singh
https://www.mbanews.com.au Jess Singh is the Managing Editor at MBA News. She has over a decade of content and digital marketing experience in the Australian higher education sector. Jess is also the Chief Content Officer of RGC Media & Marketing (rgcmm.com.au).