A Master of Business Administration (MBA) can take you many places, for Kush Sami it opened the door for a senior role with one of the most dynamic companies in the world, at just 23 years old.
It could have been much different for Brisbanite Kush had he stayed on the path of completing his Chartered Accountant (CA) qualification in preparation for a long career as a number cruncher.
After completing an undergraduate degree in Accounting and Finance at QUT, like so many young accountants, he began the long road to his CA and was a year into the journey before realising there was far more to know about business.
“I started studying for my CA and while it was a great opportunity, it prompted me to take a good look at what I wanted from my career and what I needed to achieve those goals,” Kush said.
“I was about a year into the CA program and had just left Ernst & Young (EY) when it dawned on me, that if I wanted to take my career in a new direction, I would have to change tack and get a qualification that provided a broader skillset.”
While he investigated a range of different options around Queensland, ultimately, he settled on QUT and their highly regarded two-year MBA program based at the Gardens Point campus in the Brisbane CBD.
“Having done my undergraduate there, my allegiance was with QUT, but ultimately it was the quality and structure of the program that made me choose QUT,” he said.
Like many students, Kush was inspired to undertake an MBA by a desire to expand his skill set and take on more diverse roles and responsibilities. At the time, he was working as a Business Manager with Brisbane BMW Group (Sime Darby Motors), where he had also worked in junior positions while studying his undergraduate degree.
“I wanted to continue upskilling myself whilst working within a dealership to best position myself to move into a leadership role where I could continue to develop my skills, build high performing teams and implement my ideas.”
It became obvious to Kush that a Master of Business Administration (MBA) would provide a broader base of skills and knowledge and open more doors in the near future.
Toyota Finance Australia Door Opens
His goal to take on a more challenging role came to fruition less than a year into his MBA studies when he moved from his role at BMW to take up his current role as Sales Development Manager – Finance & Retention with Toyota Finance Australia.
The role involves overseeing a portfolio of more than 60 dealer franchises across a range of Toyota Finance Australia brands, and working with the individual dealerships to achieve their retention, finance, and sales targets. Last year he was awarded the Sales Development Manager of the Year (Nationally) for Toyota Finance.
“My goal when embarking on the MBA was all about evolving my thinking; I wanted to give myself the ability to see how other industries operate, open up my thinking and apply new ideas in my environment,” he said.
“I am quite excited about learning new concepts, and the subject matter of the MBA was fascinating and challenging in many aspects.”
“I wouldn’t consider myself as a high achiever in my undergraduate studies, because I chose to work full time during a large portion of the course. But the MBA was a completely different story. Every subject opened my eyes to incredible new ideas and opportunities for improvement, and my results reflected how much fun I was having.”
“A key element of the MBA program is the networks that are formed in and out of the classroom. I have built a network of mentors and friends for a lifetime through the program who continue to challenge my thinking on a daily basis and inspire me to be the best version of myself.”
Of the 24 subject units completed by Kush as part of his QUT MBA, one stands out for its ability to challenge and provide new ideas and ways of thinking.
Systems Thinking for Managers (GSN464) is an elective within the Leadership and Strategy concentration of the QUT MBA, and is designed to teach students to apply systems thinking skills to complex business problems.
Although systems thinking is more often applied in quantitatively oriented fields like engineering and computer science, it is increasingly being applied to a wide range of qualitatively oriented problems.
Kush said the Systems Thinking unit did more to disrupt his thinking than any other course in the program.
“We conducted a fascinating exercise applying system thinking to the actions of emergency workers responding to the tragedy that unfolded with the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York on September 11. We applied various design thinking concepts and methodologies to simulate how at least theoretically, some of the outcomes post this tragic event could have potentially been different.” he said.
“It was incredibly eye-opening from the first minute to the last.”
The course particularly prepared him to embrace the well-known kaizen (the philosophy of continuous improvement) culture that underpins much of Toyota’s modern success.
“Toyota Finance is a great environment to be part of because they are so open to new ideas and changing mindsets to challenge the status quo. There is a lot of scope to apply the learnings of the MBA in everyday functions.”
Given he has already achieved so much at such a young age, what does the future hold for Kush?
“I want to gain some international experience and exposure into other business streams to see how the ideas and principles I have learned are applied in other cultures and organisations” he said. “That is the next step.”