Jessica Watson became the youngest person to sail solo non-stop and unassisted around the world in 2010, aged 16. She was named Young Australian of the Year and received an Order of Australia Medal for her services to sailing. Jessica is the co-founder of a start-up company and a Youth Ambassador for the United Nations World Food Programme. She’s currently completing an MBA with AIM Business School and will soon be graduating.
Jessica shares her AIM Business School MBA experience with MBA News and outlines the many ways it’s helping her transition into the corporate world.
When did you start your MBA with AIM Business School?
I commenced at the start of 2016 and will be finishing my studies in the next few weeks. I was looking for an MBA course that could be tailored to suit my already busy schedule. I knew I’d have to flex my study load depending on my commitments. With AIM Business School, I could study at my own pace with the built-in course flexibility. I was also able to select between on-campus study alongside some incredibly talented professionals and online units which gave me the ability to study anywhere.
What was life like, professionally, before undertaking an MBA?
It’s hard to explain neatly. My sailing career gave me so many incredible experiences and I was starting to plan my next career move, with a possible future transition into a corporate role. I’d completed an undergraduate degree (communication, arts and media) and was looking for the next step to assist with this move.
Why did you decide to do an MBA? How has it enhanced your career?
From my degree studies, I really decided I wanted to do more. My degree was quite general and I realised I’m probably going to have so many careers over my lifetime. I decided I wanted to do something further with study that was going to help me over my whole life rather than for just a few years. I see myself doing a lot of different things in my life and hence I chose to study the MBA at AIM Business School.
Why did you choose AIM Business School (ABS)? For you personally, what set it apart from other MBA programs?
The flexibility with ABS was absolutely key to my choice — that I was able to choose my own path. The AIM Business School was very accommodating of my other commitments as opposed to some other programs which are quite rigid.
It was good to be surrounded by other people in similar situations. I was grateful as a younger person to be with classmates that had so much experience and I found I was learning so much from them.
What electives did you do and how have they specifically helped you in your career?
The diverse selection of elective units offered by AIM Business School were attractive.
I’m finishing up the Business Decision Making elective which has definitely pushed me. I am so glad I’ve taken that elective on as it’s just so relevant to everything you do.
Strategic Organisational Change was very beneficial. I do see myself operating in that area in the future. It’s a direction I feel comfortable with and enjoy.
The Research Methods unit is also good for keeping my future options open. I would never have dreamt this years ago, but I can see myself taking further study on again in the future.
Can you recall the most significant personal achievements and challenges during your studies?
A big challenge is juggling commitments and time management. It can be quite daunting learning topics which are very new to you, but they also have been some of the most satisfying ones. For me, finance especially was challenging — I’m not from that world. I was quite nervous as many would be, but it was also the most satisfying to finish and very empowering.
The MBA gives you enough knowledge and the framework to solve many challenges and situations and ultimately gain great confidence.
How did AIM Business School’s teaching and/or services help you attain your MBA?
The academic and professional staff have all been extremely professional and inspiring in their own right, and all with different perspectives to bring. They all enjoy what they do and they’ve pushed me to enjoy learning. I will always look to continue pushing myself to study because of them.
What would be your advice for students considering an MBA?
You need to be realistic about the time commitment required and for those around you to be aware as well – especially if you’re spending most weekends at your desk.
You should really think about the ways you can directly apply what you’re learning to whatever else you’re doing at the time. If you can see those direct connections while you’re studying then that is a real bonus. There are immediate benefits you can draw upon for whatever you’re doing in life.
What are you up to these days and what are some of your plans for the future?
I still do a lot of speaking, especially keynote speaking which I really enjoy. I have a role with a start-up; a marine review website, Deckee, which I love and can apply my MBA learnings to. I also have my eye on a future in the corporate world. I don’t do as much sailing as I would like because I’ve been studying so much, and I have a novel coming out next year. My sailing is very much for leisure these days.