Is who you are your business?

By Belinda Coniglio, current student of the University of Sydney Business School MBA program

So much has happened since my last blog about Shanghai and the Sydney MBA Ball at the end of 2014 (thanks EMBAssy for organising a fabulous night!).

A new contract saw me return to Canberra to work for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) at the beginning of 2015 and enroll in Financial Management and Managing People and Organisations, bringing me two subjects closer to the halfway mark of my MBA.

In the past year, I have lived in over half of the states in Australia, which works out to moving just under every three months. While driving Canberra – Sydney – Canberra every Wednesday evening to attend the remarkable Professor Ford’s financial management classes may sound crazy to some, I feel truly alive and on my path, even on the days when I wonder where the road will lead. Lucky I am a minimalist!

You could also say my life gives a new meaning to going with the flow and redesigning your workspace – Professor Maurizio Flores would be proud of me for using the technology at hand and my flexibility to create ‘the workspace of the future’, which comprises my Macbook, iphone, credit card and table at a café – and thanks to Wifi TLC Fremantle, where I commenced work with an entrepreneur who gave me an opportunity to learn about business and build my own brand – Ideas and Impact.

Working as this inspiring young entrepreneur’s business development manager included strategic advice, sales and marketing, strategies for growth and even managing a cafe to contribute to systems and procedures. I did this, practised law one month (my passion for justice and advocacy had never died) and was exposed to a whole new world of entrepreneurs, mainly in small business.

And then DFAT called – like a former lover, causing me to spend the summer break in Perth asking myself, ‘would I be going back to an old relationship?’ Maybe DFAT was a love that would always have a special place in my heart or the relationship that was not quite over, and I was not prepared to let it be the one that got away.

As Assistant Director to the New Colombo Plan Secretariat, a signature initiative of the Australian government’s foreign policy that awards scholarships and grants to Australian students to study in the Indo-Pacific region, my role was to provide strategic communications and engagement for the public diplomacy team and included speaking with recipients of the New Colombo Plan scholarship and mobility grants about their study abroad and aspirations.

Perhaps some of the student’s aspirations resonated with my own, making me realise that I had already become much more than the young girl whose dream was to be a diplomat. The confidence that I gained through my professional experience, the MBA and the incredible people I have met made my return to work at DFAT feel like going back to an old relationship.

For so many years the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had been my driving force, my reason, my why. Taking six months from the corporate world to start my business had reconnected me with my creative spirit and I discovered that there were so many more ways to show the world all of me.  My business services deliver tailored projects across strategy, marketing, advocacy, negotiation and business development and advisory – yet there is no limit to the ideas or the impact! There is a corporate social responsibility arm to develop to advocate for mental health and a campaign to ignite the public perception of the conventional lawyer to be seen as a savvy, practical and a trusted adviser to business.

Reinvention is critical to business success and the past few months have given me the necessary space to reflect and to redefine my business, which is more than an idea or a model, it is about who I am, what I bring to people and to the world.

What is your journey – has the evolution of your business helped you realise your true potential, your passion, or is who you are your business?  Tell me your story and what you bring to people and the world.

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