Exchange for experience


4 minute read

Congratulations to ANU College of Business and Economics (CBE) student Sophie Macdonald, who is the recipient of a 2022 Westpac Asian Exchange Scholarship – an award that helps fund student exchange programs in Asia. With opportunities to network with some of the best Australia-Asia thought leaders, the Westpac Asian Exchange Scholarship aims to facilitate a cultural experience that will develop open-minded and complex thinkers.

Sophie is a penultimate Bachelor of Commerce and Arts student, majoring in Finance and Chinese language. She previously worked at PwC in their Capital Markets and Accounting Advisory team, where she advised companies on cross-border debt and equity transactions.

With a strong interest in the financial sector and capital markets, Sophie plans to complete an investment banking internship at the end of the year. She hopes to continue in this field throughout her career, at the same time maintaining her interest in Asia, Chinese language and sport.

In this interview, Sophie discusses why she applied for the scholarship and how it’s going to broaden both her personal and professional experience in ways that will advance her career.

Q. What led you to apply for the 2022 Westpac Asian Exchange Scholarship?

In 2018, I was as an undergraduate at The Australian National University and took up studies in Mandarin. Ever since, I’ve had an interest in deepening my understanding of the language – and Asia more broadly – through undertaking an exchange. The opportunity to visit Asia and connect with a global network of scholars motivated me to apply for the scholarship. A good friend of mine received a Westpac Asian Exchange Scholarship in 2021 and spoke very highly of her experience, which also led me to apply.

Q. What does it mean to you to be one of the 2022 Westpac Asian Exchange scholars?

It’s an incredibly exciting and privileged opportunity to be a recipient and be admitted into a network of scholars across Australia that are doing some amazing work. It’s also motivating to learn about past scholars and how their scholarship experience has allowed them to develop careers of impact. I hope to contribute to the strong reputation of the Westpac Scholarship while on exchange, as well as contribute to the strategic objectives of the scholarship in strengthening ties between Australia and Asia.

Q.How has your Bachelor of Commerce prepared you for this significant step in your professional development?

My studies through CBE have allowed me to develop a keen interest in financial markets, and the opportunities that exist between Australia and Asia’s financial sectors. Articulating this interest was a large component of my scholarship application, as scholars are required to detail how we would contribute to enhancing Australia-Asia relations. My Bachelor of Commerce has also allowed me to develop strong technical skills through coursework, enabling me to gain experience working in capital markets and the financial sector.

Q. What experience do you hope to gain through undertaking an exchange program in Singapore and what are you looking forward to the most?

Singapore is a hub for innovation and technology, making it an attractive landscape for venture capital and investment. Through my experience in Singapore, I hope to deepen my understanding of Asian capital markets and the wider financial sector, and where there may be gaps or opportunities for Australia. I’m looking forward to making strong connections with scholars and colleagues, as well as getting involved in the local university and sport scene.

Q. CBE students are provided with opportunities to study overseas through short courses and exchange programs. What do you think the benefits are to completing a component of your CBE studies overseas?

Overseas study has obvious benefits from a career perspective, allowing you to broaden your professional network and gain an authentic understanding of your areas of interest through an international lens. However, I think the personal benefits of an international internship can’t be overstated. Challenging yourself to go outside of your comfort zone, especially through speaking a new language, is something that will equip you with resilience and courage, preparing you for both the start of your career and also life after university.


Applications for the 2023 Westpac Asian Exchange Scholarship are now open, and will close Wednesday 30 November 2022, 5.00pm (AEDT). Click here to find out more and apply.

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