2017 Best MBAs: Nathan Spence, Melbourne Business School

Nathan Spence

Melbourne Business School

“A highly confused engineer, who can’t work out whether to play guitar or trade stocks.”

Age: 30

Hometown: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Fun fact about yourself: I love puzzles and games – so much so that I turned my apartment into a ‘Puzzle Room’ one Valentine’s Day and made a 2D, shooter, demo game for a friend’s birthday.

Undergraduate School and Degree: The University of Melbourne – Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical) and Bachelor of Science (Applied Mathematics)

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Project Manager – Rio Tinto, Technology & Innovation

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? Not Applicable – Internship season hasn’t started yet.

Where will you be working after graduation? To Be Determined

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I am in the leadership team of three student clubs – The Women and Management Club, The Net Impact Club and the Energy and Resources Club. I have been heavily involved in organising student events, such as networking events, panel events and presentations throughout the year. In addition, as a class representative of the full-time cohort, I am involved in ensuring that the well-being of the class as a whole is maintained through regular meetings with the program managers, accepting feedback and organising activities for the group, such as end of exams parties.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Being a very diverse class, people have varied interests and tend to flock to people from similar countries. To foster a more collective atmosphere in my MBA class and encourage students to mingle outside their typical groups, I designed a customised interactive trivia session that involved getting lecturers and students to act out famous movie scenes and tailored activities for the class. It was so successful that I am currently working on Part Two for the wider community!

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I designed an automated, diamond-cleaning system for an international partner that improved operator safety and task efficiency. I was given the opportunity to go to arctic Canada in winter (coming from Australian summer – and an over-80°C temperature difference) to install the equipment and train staff. It was really rewarding seeing ‘my baby’ in action and the excitement of the team in Canada.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Kennan Sethuraman – our operations teacher. He put in so much effort for the students and is so interested in our well-being. He’s the kind of lecturer that would call you at 6 pm on a Saturday with an answer to your question from a few days ago. He is an extremely nice and talented individual, and I am hugely impressed with his dedication to our class and the School.

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Marketing would have to be my favourite subject. The main reason is that I could see so many relatable elements to everything in my life. Coming from a commodity background, marketing is generally not as important for the product, so it was a lot of new content for me. And it was taught in a really fun and interactive way, which is always great.

Why did you choose this business school? Three main reasons – the reputation of the School, my affiliation with Melbourne University (so I already knew the calibre of the teaching), and it came highly recommended by a good mate of mine.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The cohort. In our class of 50 people, no two are alike. Everyone has such diverse backgrounds in career, country, age and interests. It really makes for an exciting and informative classroom experience.

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you?

How much work it is. When everyone said it was going to be a lot of work, I thought I knew what they meant. Now I know that I really didn’t.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Come visit! The staff are super friendly and always willing to have a chat. They want to meet you for who you are, so they really engage with you and make you feel really comfortable.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The part-time class and full-time class don’t get along! The FTers are generally here during the day (and the night), and the PTers are here mostly at night and weekends. But there is definitely no bad blood. We just don’t get much exposure to them in class and so don’t necessarily hang out with them. But we get some exposure through clubs and societies, and, over time, the cross-pollination has definitely increased.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Ryan Nguyen, because the boy can dance!! We were out one night at a local Latin bar and it was pretty late, so we were all kind of tired and low on energy. Then, out of nowhere, this quiet, little, Vietnamese guy just starts absolutely tearing up the dance floor. No joke he is a demon. It was amazing.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I heard previous students’ accounts about their experience. They were so passionate about it and able to really progress their career in amazing directions.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…still doing the same thing and wishing I was at business school.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience?

Get us another ping pong table. Even though we have managed to invent a game that can have up to eight players on it, that’s still not enough. It’s pretty much our saving grace – and the bar next door. That’s great too.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I know it sounds corny but just to be happy. I want to work in a company where I am consistently challenged and doing meaningful work, so I can go home at night and be proud of what I have done for the day.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would have to thank my girlfriend for putting up with the many late nights at university and my lack of help around the house. She has been extremely supportive and helpful – she would even practise case interviews with me all weekend, and I can’t express my gratitude enough.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? The guy who brought everyone together.

Favorite book: Game of Thrones

Favorite movie or television show: Mr Robot

Favorite musical performer: It varies between Michael Jackson and a NYC hardcore band named Glassjaw.

Favorite vacation spot: South East Asia because of the beautiful beaches, people and scenery.

Hobbies? Playing music, playing games and hanging out with friends.

What made Nathan such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“It didn’t take long for the rest of the cohort to realise that, in Nathan, they had a colleague who cared deeply about their well-being and who was genuinely interested in each of them as individuals. They quickly voted to elect him as one of their class representatives. Their faith in Nathan was not misplaced, and in my many meetings with him, I have found that he represents the students’ position in a considered and articulate manner.

Nathan’s commitment to the MBS student community goes beyond just representing his full-time MBA classmates. He has also taken leadership positions in three student clubs and collaborates with a wide group of stakeholders to invite guest speakers to the school to share their expertise and experiences with the wider student body.

One of Nathan’s most impressive achievements was when he noticed that distinct social groups were forming within his cohort, which was creating some tension within the group. He organised an incredibly entertaining lunchtime trivia session with questions designed to make students from all backgrounds feel included. The event was a great success, but the highlight came when a video question was shown of two faculty members, re-enacting a Blade Runner scene, in which one delivered a monologue while being soaked by the other with a watering can. I don’t think I would have had the guts to ask faculty members to do that!

Despite caring for his cohort and the wider School community, Nathan also excels in class. He is quick to understand new concepts and apply them to his own experiences, and contributes thoughtfully in class discussions to the benefit of his fellow students. A faculty member gave me the following feedback on Nathan:

Nathan demonstrated a unique ability to seamlessly relate theoretical frameworks to his professional and personal experiences. This ability was hugely valuable in that it allowed Nathan share his experiences in a manner that helped his class mates gain a richer insight into the concepts being discussed in class.”

Gerard Costello

Program Manager – Full-time MBA





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