Designing Businesses


6 minute read

For several years, Natasha Chong has been wanting to explore ideas between business and design.

Unable to find an opportunity to explore those interests, Natasha decided it was best to leave designing as a hobby. However, that instantly changed when she came to the Australian National University (ANU) in February earlier this year.

“Before coming to ANU, I never thought I’ll have the chance of studying design and business at the same time,” Natasha said.

Born and raised in the city of Selangor, just outside Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, Natasha was always engaged in various extra-curricular activities that she feels directly fed her passion to combine business and design.

Calling her time at high school an “exploration period”, she joined a host of activities that carved the path for her to explore her passion, including being responsible for her library’s sales booth and developing posters and budgets for her clubs.

“In high school, I was made Treasurer of the Librarian Board, IT and Creative Services Director of the Leo Club, and a graphics designer for the school's editorial team. Having been so active in participating in different clubs, along with my strong academic performance, I was offered the School Achievers' Scholarship Award to study Foundation in Arts at HELP University,” Natasha said.

At HELP, she chose to study business related electives like economics and marketing and developed a strong interest in International Business.

“I did the first year of my degree at HELP and decided to do a credit transfer to ANU for the remaining of my undergraduate degree. I wanted to study at ANU primarily for the exposure I would get by studying in another country,” Natasha added.

Eager to not feel too “relaxed” in her comfort zone in Malaysia, Natasha decided to come to the ANU College of Business and Economics (CBE) for its high university ranking.

“I didn’t want to be stuck in my own bubble. I felt that my life became stagnant at times and it was time for a change. I chose CBE specifically for the diverse perspective it would provide to my education,” Natasha said.

Natasha is currently studying a Bachelor of Commerce with a major in International Business and a minor in Design, and is also the recipient of the Southeast Asian Merit Scholarship.

“My experience studying at ANU has been nothing less than fantastic. The courses that I have taken so far were really interesting, and I enjoyed the classes very much because of the lecturers who were very experienced in their fields. The flexibility of choosing electives at ANU has been a huge bonus,” Natasha said.  

While studying her Commerce degree, Natasha felt that she was going to go for a more conventional minor like management or marketing, but opted to do design when she realised she could.

“Taking my first design course was a real eye-opening moment for me, as I learnt that there was so much more to design, for example, the design thinking approach. It has been gaining much more exposure and recognition by businesses in recent years, as it incorporates creative and innovative problem-solving approaches as well as focusing on user experience.

Learning about both business and design perspective has allowed me to develop a more all-rounded viewpoint on how businesses may be impacted or improved,” she emphasised.

While she confesses she had a nervous start to her life at ANU, Natasha said all those feeling were quickly resolved by the “welcoming” attitude of the ANU community; her fellow housemates at Burton & Garran Hall, an on-campus university accommodation; and the active and sizable Malaysian community in Canberra.

“I have settled in comfortably in Canberra largely because of the friends who have become my support systems. When I was back in Malaysia during the recent semester break, I would often think how much I miss Canberra, my friends and my hostel room,” she added.

Now her goal is to use the advantage she has gained at ANU in her future as a business consultant.

“With the combinations in my degree, I can now bring something different to the table when I become a business consultant,” Natasha said.

The ANU College of Business and Economics offers an extensive range of specialised programs in Commerce. Click here for more details.