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Asyia Syafaati from Jakarta, Indonesia

Financial Reporting Manager at Zurich Australia

Just be positive. If the opportunity comes, just take the challenge and do the best that you can, and believe that if it is what you are called to do, then of course you can succeed.

Disaster at home strengthens student’s resolve to succeed

When Asyia Syafaati recalls the 2004 tsunami which killed more than 280,000 people across South East Asia, tears well up in her eyes.

At the time, Asyia had just finished her UTS Foundation Studies program at UTS Insearch. She was poised to start her Bachelor’s degree at UTS in Accounting and Finance. But the tsunami destroyed one of her father’s biggest clients in Aceh. He could no longer pay her fees as an international student or her living allowance.

“I did not want to go home because I was already established here in Australia,” she says. “I really wanted to finish my Bachelor's Degree so what I did to stay here was get a part-time job at Cole’s (supermarket) for the next three and a half years.”

Asyia initially took a break from her studies to find a job to finance herself. She also applied for special consideration from UTS to defer her fee payment, to pay it back in instalments. At the same time she had to get a special extension on her student visa from the Australian government. She resumed her studies in 2006.

Throughout this time, her inner strength kept her going in the midst of adversity. “It taught me a lot about the meaning of life in general, to just be able to be happy in whatever circumstances that you are, whether you have money or you don’t have money. Sometimes things don’t go as planned in our life,” she says.

UTS Insearch helped Asyia understand how Australia’s education system works. The program also offered her practical skills about presenting and communicating. She’s used these skills throughout her career as an accountant and especially in her current role financial reporting manager for general insurance for Zurich Financial Services Australia.

“As a manager at Zurich, I have to represent my team in front of more experienced senior team members, like my bosses, the Group Financial Controller and ultimately the CFO,” she says.

Her career advice to other international students is not to be intimidated by a lack of English or limited local Australian connections.

“Just don’t have that kind of mindset. Just be positive. If the opportunity comes, just take the challenge and do the best that you can, and believe that if it is what you are called to do, then of course you can succeed,” she says.

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