“I have observed that if you find yourself feeling dissatisfied with your job and always looking around to find the next job, sometimes it’s not the next job you need. It’s probably re-evaluating your goals and understanding where you want to get in life.
Sometimes the place where you can make the greatest difference is right where you are and in fact this is the first place you should start.”
– Jacqui Joseph, (Founder and Co-Director of Equal Playing Field, Torrens MBA Graduate)
Have you ever wondered if you can use an MBA to do something really incredible?
One night in 2010, Jacqui Joseph was standing on the rooftop of a University of Papua New Guinea dormitory, talking to a friend about the future.
She knew she didn’t just want a regular job when she graduated. She wanted to use her education to do something for her country, something that would make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.
“It’s funny how big things start from very small conversations like this.
By the time I finished uni I got a job and in that same year a colleague sent me an email about the ‘Global Changemakers’ network. It was through this network that I travelled to New Delhi, and that would be the beginning of my journey to start Equal Playing Field with my Cofounder, Adam Everill.”
Her journey post-university would take her to work for the Asian Development Bank, as a Consultant to the United Nations Capital Development Fund, to founding Equal Playing Field and eventually to Torrens to study an MBA.
“Since finishing off my Bachelor in Arts in 2010, I had planned on further studies. Since then I was really privileged to win an award that came with the opportunity to study my MBA in 2017. I graduated from Torrens this year, in April.”
Jacqui and Adam co-founded Equal Playing Field after connecting at a youth summit in India in 2011.
Both Jacqui and Adam had been studying family violence issues, and wanted to do something to address this huge problem in Papua New Guinean society.
They realised that playing sports was a great way to begin a dialogue with kids about gender equality. They began working with schools, running mixed-gender football matches and teaching workshops about respect.
“My Cofounder and I started Equal Playing Field initially as an organisation leading the work of prevention of Gender-Based-Violence in Papua New Guinea through delivering respectful relationships education to adolescent age children.
However just like any idea, as you work at it you understand it more and more, and this informs your work as you progress. Equal Playing Field has become a community development organisation in Papua New Guinea working with a mission to inspire and empower the next generation to solve the world’s greatest challenges. The organisation strives to champion safe homes, happy families and strong communities.”
Their intervention program is proving to be a fantastic success. Follow up surveys found that 74% of students said there was less violence in schools after the workshops, and 87% of students wanted to become agents of change in their country and community.
As they say, ‘nothing worth doing is ever easy.’ There have definitely been some challenging moments along the way.
Jacqui has had to dig deep into all her strength and resources to get this project to grow.
“Working in a country with 800 different languages and diverse cultures is the greatest pleasure. However, this also comes with working in rugged terrains, fighting mosquitoes, crossing flooded rivers and a whole lot of other challenges that many times adds a lot of fun and purpose in my work.
When I reflect on these challenges, I think the biggest one is doubt in myself for what I can do.
There were millions of times I’d sit back and for a moment feel like I was setting myself up to fail, and the temptation to give up on this journey became very real.”
To keep going despite doubting in her confidence and abilities, she needed to rely on the support of those around her, and have faith in her own skills and knowledge.
“A supportive family and Cofounder were very important elements to keep my drive going until I reached stages where I could look back and say, ‘I made it through the challenging times and all the more reasons why I can keep going.’”
When she came to Torrens to study her MBA, she had already been running Equal Playing Field for several years. She already had a Bachelor’s degree and a wealth of experience and knowledge, from working across a variety of challenging roles.
So, what exactly did she get out of studying an MBA at that point in her career, and how did it help her to run Equal Playing Field?
“Working on my MBA was a literal guidebook to managing Equal Playing Field! From learning how to make and influence decisions, to finally learning how to read financial statements. Phew! The relief on my face when those figures finally made sense, it was pure achievement, considering my non-financial background.
Understanding the difference between management and leadership, and how to balance them both, was also a step into owning my role as a manager and working on those skillsets that developed my leadership attributes.
Completing my MBA is the best course I have so far invested my time on, especially when looking at the level of growth I have gone through as a result.”
So, what’s next on the horizon for her, and for Equal Playing Field?
“My hope for the nearby future is to continue to be of service to others. Not because I am more experienced or qualified or exposed, but because I want to continue to grow and challenge myself.
If it’s going to be giving advice to a local non-profit organisation in Afghanistan, or working to lobby for better policies to protect children, where ever life finds me, I want to be found doing the greatest good.”
What an inspiring person, keep up the good work, Jacqui!
So, what advice does she have for other MBA graduates, who may want to use their knowledge for good?
“I believe in having dreams and working to achieve them. I remember completing this MBA meant, sacrifice, commitment, endurance and the many values that I learnt.
Sometimes you’ve got to do uncomfortable and challenging things, to face your fears. Be willing to face those challenging times right down to the uncomfortable conversations. There will be tears, but this is where you find the strength to keep progressing in life.”
If you want to support Equal Playing Field or find out more about their activities, take a look at their website.
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