Though born in Hong Kong, Eimund Loo moved to Australia at a young age and, when it came to choosing a part-time MBA, felt sure that Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM) offered the benefits he was looking for. “I think Australian schools get the balance just right between theory, practice and application; they put students outside their comfort zone,” he says.
Having taken a degree in computing in 1999, he felt it was too early back then to move straight on to master’s level qualification. “For 15 years, I had been in formal education and wanted some real-world experience, which wasn’t just playing by the rules,” says Loo, who still prefers applying in practice to simply learning the theory.
He therefore accepted a graduate trainee position at Deloitte and, landing on his feet, stayed there for the next 13 years gaining plenty of diverse exposure. “Work took me to four different continents, collecting a wealth of experience and skill sets which have since proved extremely useful,” he says.
The open road to the world
Naturally, those moves also changed the way he approaches life. Learning to adapt easily and calmly to new surroundings and cultures, he discovered what it took to fit in and not feel like a fish out of water. “Those life-changing experiences challenge you personally and emotionally because your immediate support structure is no longer readily available. Learning and adapting to unfamiliar surroundings can be disorienting and make you question your own abilities and confidence,” he says.
At work, a series of secondments brought him into contact with Fortune 500 clients, providing insights into their structures, processes, and their inherent complexities, while also highlighting his own strengths and weaknesses as a young person in business.
At times, Loo moved between cities every few months. “To overcome the immediate challenges, I needed self-confidence. I focused on improving my core skills and the bigger picture of what I wanted to achieve,” he says. The key was to put changes and challenges into context and then work on them methodically. Family and friends at home also provided essential support. “I felt the importance of having a solid support structure,” says Loo, who was a frequent user of Skype, email and SMS to keep in touch.
“It is essential to be flexible and willing to learn new things,” he says. “It may sound like a cliché, but change means uncertainty, especially in business, so the ability to accept and adapt is key to success and progress. Those who resist change or are slow to accept it tend to miss the boat and spend additional time and resources catching up.”
An MBA brings life-long benefits
Au fait with a collegiate environment, he responded to the collaboration and discussion entailed in the MBA as soon as he started it in 2010. “I came to realise that personal experience alone can lead to a very myopic perspective,” he says. “To be truly successful, a wider scope is needed,”
The MBA gave Loo outlooks and skills he wouldn’t have come across in his daily work. “It expanded my viewpoint to consider a broader range of ideas and try different approaches in tackling new challenges.”
Loo describes himself as a detailed, proactive and engaging person who enjoys leading, as well as being part of a team.
In particular, it changed his approach to decision-making, showing the importance of thinking around the problem and outside the box. “I base decisions on factors like time, all available information, the objectives and context of the project, the potential consequences, and any elements of gut feeling,” he says.
Where possible, Loo prefers to leverage past experiences and their outcomes, but is now better prepared for situations which are basically unfamiliar. Moves made during his career have also given him the chance to consider strategy and how best to achieve a desired result.
“You want to achieve the organisation’s overall mission and vision in a manner that best utilizes the available resources, creating expected and excess value through the process,” he says.
His advice is not to get too caught up in the details and tactical processes. “A good strategist is always able to keep an overarching view of the multiple moving pieces to ensure that the objectives are attained.”