How a QUT Digital MBA Helped Joseph Kelly Transition Into The World Of Business And Transform His Career

Executives leading major organisations in the Asia Pacific region rely on Joseph Kelly when it comes to developing strategies to combat cyber security threats and third-party risk.

However, the 29-year-old’s background isn’t in business or digital safety.

Joseph studied a dual degree of Creative Industries and Law before securing a role at a migration firm.

Then his career took a turn and he found himself working as a consultant with global professional services firm, Ernst & Young, and he knew the MBA was the next piece needed in his academic puzzle.

In 2020, Joseph decided a Digital MBA at QUT was the ideal way to plug himself into the business world.

“I wanted to back myself with experience and education and an MBA was the logical next step to round out my education,” he said.

“I was consulting with chief executives in areas like risk, compliance and procurement without an extensive business focussed background.

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“I felt I didn’t have a formal qualification to be able to back myself and know that what I was saying was correct.

“The Digital MBA was a way of anchoring my thinking with not only a business perspective, but an academic perspective as well and was a way to overcome imposter syndrome.”

Joseph described the Digital MBA as the business qualification required to add to his diverse academic background.

“I started out in migration law. During that time, I recognised that being a lawyer was not what I wanted to be, but I did want to leverage the skills I had learned and developed during my studies.

“After leaving the firm, I landed a job as a policy advisor and small business advocate. This role required me to provide commentary on legislative and policy developments, engage in the political landscape and advocate on behalf of collectives.

“After two years in this role I made the jump to consulting. Despite having no cyber security background, I became a cyber consultant as I was able to leverage my transferable skills from my education and previous career.

“My Law degree was invaluable in developing the critical thinking skills I have needed to understand and adapt to new circumstances. My Creative Industries degree has also provided great value; having taught me project management, out-of-the-box thinking, and working with diverse teams.”

QUT Digital MBA Reaps Immediate Results

The QUT Digital MBA is a three-year, part-time leadership degree specifically focusing on the digital challenges of modern business.

Joseph said he was able to apply learnings from the Digital MBA subjects immediately in his consulting role.

“I do not have a finance background, but there was one subject in the QUT Digital MBA where we learned about profit and loss statements,” he said.

“Within a week, a project started at work, and we were looking at the value of organisations and analysing profit and loss ratios.

“It all just clicked, and I was able to understand what everyone was talking about and actually contribute to the discussion.

“I think, professionally, the Digital MBA is vital for me to take that next step forward. It gives me the confidence, but it also gives my senior leaders a level of confidence that I do know what I’m talking about.

“I’ve actually reached outside of my comfort zone and got a formal education in these pieces that I recognise that I was missing.”

Joseph said while the QUT Digital MBA had already had an immediate impact on his role, the qualification would also generate lifetime career benefits.

“An MBA is an investment in myself for the next three years that’s going to set me up for the next 20.

“This is also a big leap personally, because you should always be learning, should always pick up new skills and have a curious mindset, and this was the next step for me to push myself.

“I am looking to step into more leadership positions over the next five to ten years and the Digital MBA is a way of helping me define what leadership capabilities I have and what I need to develop,” he said.

“The Digital MBA will elevate my abilities to be agile in my future endeavours and transfer my skills at more senior levels. This will bring a transformation mindset to my organisation, using the business foundations from the Digital MBA.”

The next QUT Digital MBA program begins in April 2022. Visit the QUT Business School website for more information.

Doug Estwick
Doug is an author for MBA News and Fixed Income News Australia. Doug has been a media and communications professional for more than 10 years, including working as an editor for News Corp's Quest Newspaper group.