Knowledge is a career investment that pays off

William Fong

William Fong is a College of Business and Economics (CBE) alumnus, graduating in 2013 with a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance)/Bachelor of Asian Studies (Chinese Studies). He grew up in Darwin and now works as the E-commerce and Marketing Manager for Metcash in Shanghai. He credits his success, in part, to volunteering and networking at conferences while a student.

The value of volunteering

William was eager to follow his interests and to capitalise on experiences he gained on exchange in China. While many of William’s friends were applying for graduate jobs in their final year, he began volunteering at events organised by the Australian Business Forum, using the opportunities to network and learn more about the current trade and business climate. William befriended the organisers and was invited to attend several key events, but most importantly, he was able to hear about what had been happening recently with China and Australia’s trade relationship.

“During an interview, the Trade Commissioner at the time asked me about the current state of agribusiness and about trade between Australia and China. I was able to repeat what I had heard at one of the conferences, which surprised him and led to me securing an internship at Austrade in Shanghai,” William said.

Career momentum

As a result of further networking and professional engagement, William transitioned from the finance work he had been doing to roles based more in digital marketing and e-commerce. For a while, he was working in market entry and consulting for brands around the world who wanted to better understand Chinese business. Not long after that, William started his current role at Metcash, doing marketing and e-commerce, helping brands from New Zealand and Australia, amongst others, to break into the China’s online and offline markets.

When taking stock of his career success, William emphasises the importance of his time volunteering and engaging with all the opportunities that he could find. His advice to students is that they should not wait until they graduate to start looking for ways to grow their networks and broaden their knowledge. Before volunteering at conferences, William started attending public lectures, to engage with other like-minded people and learn about other disciplines.

“It’s free, relevant knowledge that’s being shared everywhere and I recommend students become more engaged with those kinds of initiatives and be more proactive with other industry opportunities.”

“Students should be brave. The best way to do it is just dip your toe in and get a feel for it. If you don’t know what to say, just listen.”

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