Undergraduate Testimonials

Maggie Cheng - Bachelor of Business

Sometimes your goals have to change—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“We grew up in a democratic British colony and could not imagine how much our lives will change under the ruling of a communist government.”

Maggie Cheng – working mother of two and a Bachelor of Business student at UNE – describes how she came to live in western Sydney.

“My family migrated from Hong Kong to Australia when I was 8 years old and I have been living in Sydney ever since,”

Maggie’s story is one of change. And of persistence.

In her 17 years in the workforce, Maggie has had no less than nine career changes with, no doubt, more to come. On the crisp paper of a curriculum vitae, it may come across as indecisive, but make no mistake, Maggie’s career has been a steady climb—interrupted by life challenges; punctuated by ambition and personal growth.

Her indecision from a career standpoint seems to stem from curiosity and enthusiasm to learn, and a desire to empower others. Early on her favourite subjects in high school were varied.

“My most memorable subjects in high school were maths, engineering science and arts. I could never decide what I wanted to be (and still can’t make up my mind!).”

Maggie currently works in Business Intelligence – far removed from where her professional career began.

It was nursing that called to a young Maggie. The ardent dedication provided to a neighbour by nurses at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital left an indelible mark upon the young Maggie, inspiring her to take up a career in nursing.

She studied Nursing at UWS, with a view to nursing advocacy after learning of legal issues nurses can encounter. As so often happens, her first jobs were not in the nursing field. After two years of further study, the dream was put on hold due to financial difficulties and Maggie went to work full time.

First stop in her career was a call center, before moving on to a customer service consultant position. It didn’t take long for the ambitious Maggie to realise that there weren’t many opportunities to grow in those fields, so when an accountant offered her as a position as a personal assistant, she jumped at the opportunity. After learning bookkeeping, Maggie moved into retail, and then on to working as an executive assistant, where her personal assistant and customer experience landed her a job with Macquarie Bank. Her varied roles saw her enjoying working with well-known research entities, online auctions and IT. It was here that she came to realise that the lacking of a business/finance degree was holding her back in such a large financial institution.

In the end, it was a supportive manager who suggested she considered getting her Business/Finance degree via distance education.

“I enrolled into Bachelor of Business course, studying part-time with UNE in 2004. Why UNE? Why I did my research, UNE was by far the most organised Distance Education provider, the fees are very reasonable, and courses were offered even to students abroad, so that gave me confidence that studying via Distance Education was real and sustainable.”

Maggie took a break from the corporate world to raise her two children, but after 3 years she felt the itch to return to the workforce once more.

“I realised I missed going to work, I missed being intellectually challenged, I missed being financially independent, I missed continuous personal development.

She is also acutely aware of the challenge in maintaining the balance between work and family life …

“I care about my family so much [but] I have made a conscious decision to be a role-model for my children, to build a more steady financial foundation for our family’s future and no one can take that away from me. On a brighter note, nothing can take the smirk off my face when my kids says they are proud of their very clever mummy…”

She will have been working in insurance for 6 years in November and is continually looking for the next challenge, exploiting the opportunities available within her company to broaden her experience.

“There doesn’t seem to be any shortage of career changes for me, from business support in customer retention, to operational performance reporting, and currently, I am working in business intelligence as a reporting analyst.”

After eight years, her goal of completing her degree at UNE is in sight, with only a handful of subjects left. And it seems her passion has not dimmed over that time—earlier this year, she received a CPA award for coming in the top 5 percent in Organisation Behaviour MM105, a unit she say was the “highlight of her academic career.” Ultimately, Maggie aims to use her degree to set up her own business consulting firm.

Unsurprisingly, when asked what she liked to do to wind down from her commitments, she responded: “Would it disappoint you if I said sleep was my favourite form of relaxation?”

The answer is ‘no’, but we get the feeling that she won’t be resting for long.

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