Ever since graduating with his third degree (he has four) – a Master of Business Administration in 1997 – Steven Nicols has held an affinity for the Curtin Graduate School of Business (CGSB). A decade later, after reconnecting with Curtin as he studied his Master of Accounting, he became an active member of Curtin’s Graduate School of Business (CGSB) Alumni Chapter. Now, as president of the chapter, he is looking for like-minded CGSB alumni to join him on his quest to share business knowledge and create networking opportunities for the more than 5,000-strong chapter.
“We are always on the lookout for re-generation and re-growth,” explains Nicols of his desire to recruit new members to the Chapter Committee. “And, it’s mutually beneficial. By joining the committee, alumni have an opportunity to be proactive in expanding their own network, as well as ours.”
Nicols was first drawn to Curtin’s alumni events as a “value-add” opportunity for career networking and business ideas. He soon discovered there was much more on offer, with events such as the recent Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Hayman Theatre appealing to his love of the arts (his first degree was a Bachelor of Arts (English) at Curtin).
When the opportunity to become president of the CGSB Alumni Chapter presented itself in 2015, he rose to the challenge, inspired by a combination of giving back to Curtin, networking opportunities and the chance to promote his own brand. Since then, he has taken pleasure in influencing the direction of the chapter.
“The committee operates under a leadership model where every member is welcome to bring feedback, ideas, and even lead events or projects that would engage CGSB alumni with the University,” Nicols says. “I think it is very important that people feel comfortable about speaking freely and having the opportunity to do so.”
Members of the committee come from an array of backgrounds, including management, IT, engineering, education and law. Through their efforts, CGSB alumni have been able to attend events such as Understanding the Management Consulting Landscape in Perth, with EY, and the annual philanthropic Christmas Comedy Debate between CGSB alumni and the Curtin Toastmasters team.
But Nicols is quick to recognise the busy lives of committee members.
“The reality is that busy working professionals don’t always have the time to invest in these initiatives,” he acknowledges. “But through whatever contribution they can make, such as finding interesting guest speakers and attending a couple of information evenings, they can aid the networking and social benefits for alumni.”
Multi-skilled and multi-talented
Nicols graduated from Curtin several times, with a bachelor in English, a diploma in business, and two master degrees in accounting and business administration. He also holds a degree in education. He says that having multiple degrees gives him a unique advantage in the job market.
“One of my marketing ‘pitches’ revolves around my accounting and MBA qualifications,” he says. “My accounting skill allows me to produce annual financial statements whilst my MBA skill allows me to interpret the numbers and make decisions on the basis of those numbers. Theoretically, it’s the kind of skill set that could give you the heads up toward CEO or general manager type roles.”
He adds that it’s a skill set that’s underpinned by the strong practical nature of Curtin’s degrees.
“The degree programs at Curtin have an emphasis on producing practical projects allowing graduates to market themselves to potential employers. There is also an emphasis on technology, entrepreneurship, risk-taking and international business,” he explains, before admitting, “I also quite like the setting with the pine trees and George’s kebabs near the tavern.”
Find out about joining the CGSB Alumni Chapter Committee.