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A rewarding journey for Miles Archibald - NAIDOC 2021

It’s a long way from Guyra in NSW to the Republic of Korea and Hong Kong for young Kamilaroi man Miles Archibald. But it’s a journey that was worth it and has opened up so many doors for him both personally and professionally.

Studying a Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Arts at the University of New England in Armidale, Miles was uncertain what path he wanted to take. “I was from a small town and didn’t know much about my career prospects. People doing business would do agri-business at UNE and I went into a finance major but didn’t understand my career prospects in the first year.”

It was his first trip overseas to Indonesia on the New Colombo Plan mobility program with his university which inspired him to apply for a full New Colombo Plan Scholarship. “It sounded like an awesome idea to live overseas for a year and would be a dream come true.”

Miles found the time he took out from his studies in Australia to venture overseas on an NCP was both challenging and rewarding. Studying at Yonsei University in the Republic of Korea was his first major period of living abroad and independently.

“The key take away for me was the experience. The exposure to other cultures, living amongst the locals in South Korea and then in Hong Kong during my internship and understanding their culture was so valuable for my career. The humour is different and I experienced different ways of working, like approaching things differently.

Group photo of five young people on a mountain.
Miles wants other Indigenous students to apply, “don’t worry about fears, your baggage, or where you come from.” Image courtesy of Miles Archibald

As the inaugural QBE Indigenous Fellow, Miles also undertook an internship with QBE Insurance in Hong Kong for ten weeks. “I found the experience very valuable, working on issues I’d not worked on before. It was a smaller office in Hong Kong so I worked across several teams on the financial side of technology, crisis management and on project teams for an external project. I had a great insight into each of those areas and it was that broad exposure, especially project management, that I’ve found useful now in the projects I work on.”

His NCP experience served him well. Miles is now working at the Commonwealth Bank in Risk Management and Strategy after completing the company’s Graduate Program in 2019.

“My experience working overseas has benefitted me in my current role in rolling out a new system. The team I work with is internationally based in the US and UK and half of the project team is based in India, so I’m working with three different jurisdictions,” he said. “I’m learning a lot and it’s a lot to take in. It’s fast paced and busy. I really like living in Sydney. I loved the country and growing up there. But my NCP experience really opened up my eyes to lots of opportunities.”

His words of advice for other students considering a New Colombo Plan? “Just sign up don’t worry about fears, your baggage, or where you come from. I came from a small town and had never lived abroad. I thought I wouldn’t have a chance, but sailed through and got the opportunity and haven’t regretted a thing.”

Miles also encourages other Indigenous students to step up and apply. “For a lot of Indigenous Australian students, culture and community is a big thing. When you go abroad don’t lose that and focus on building a community around you as it’s so important to enjoy your time away.”

As for the future, Miles’ experience with the New Colombo Plan has inspired him to live and work in the Asia region again in the future. “The experience gave me a taste for living and working abroad. In the next few years I want to do that again, still probably in the financial industry. I enjoyed working in Hong Kong and being in an international city. I’d like to work in a big financial hub like Hong Kong, Singapore or London. That’s my plan.”

Find out more about the New Colombo Plan.

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