Viraaj Lad -  USP Alumni Network

Name: Viraaj Lad
Country: Fiji

Programme: BA (Accounting / Info Systems) 2000, MBA 2006

Why did you choose your field of study?
Though I wanted to study Management course initially, Accounting & Financial Management with Information System (double major) seemed more appropriate as it was of personal interest after undergoing orientation programme. I come from a family business background having worked in the family business while growing up so management was something I felt I was familiar with.

Briefly reflect on your student life at USP?
Staying on campus was a great experience as I learnt about other cultures and it’s values. From a high school student from a small town of Ba, Fiji, I got good exposure from regional & international students.

Greatest achievement[s] as a student
I consider myself an average student when it comes to grades. With good lecturers, I was able to achieve an A grade which I never thought I would. This opened my eyes on the hidden potential that I had.
Having given a job at USP Counselling Centre as Accounting Tutor (for first year accounting students while completing my 3rd year of studies) gave me great exposure in interacting with regional students and helping them through their accounting course. Accounting was not as hard as the students thought it was. I was able to share my experience & knowledge whilst growing up in a family business and this felt very rewarding. It also helped me gain more soft skills.

Career Highlights since Graduation
It was difficult getting a job after Fiji’s 2000 coup. I worked as a part time Accounting Tutor for Accounting Department @ USP for 4 months after which I worked as an Accounts Assistants at an International Insurance Broking Company (ranked # 1 today).
Within 4 months I was given the opportunity to climb the ladder as a Manager at a young age of 22. The exposure, experiences and knowledge I gained in 3 years living on Campus helped me achieve more than what I had imagined.
After 1st graduation, I worked for 4 years in an International Insurance Broking company in Fiji. My last position as a Manager inspired me to go back to my family business but strongly felt I needed more knowledge given I had operations knowledge only.
In 2004, I then joined my family business in Ba as the 4th generation family member to take on the challenge to grow the 80 year old company to greater heights. This is when I joined USP’s MBA programme in 2005 on part time basis in Nadi. This has helped me and my family business immensely to grow from strength to strength.  
USP’s MBA programme has helped me achieve my dreams and personal aspirations. I started as Operations Manager and later I was appointed CEO/ Executive Director & Company Secretary. The personal satisfaction and the boost to the existing passion to grow your family business cannot be described in words.

Who/what do you credit your success to? What inspires you?
My Guru’s (meaning Teachers in every aspect of live) – parents, family members, School Teachers, Lecturers and everyone who has helped me grow from strength to strength.

How do you think USP helped you in your career?
By providing:
•    affordable education,
•    good positive learning environment,
•    great course material,
•    very experienced and learned Lecturers and Tutors,
•    Exposure in a wide range of cultures and values.
•    Giving me a part time job which was my first paid job

Describe any challenges you face to reach where you are today and how you overcame those challenges?
What seemed challenges then was actually an opportunities for growth. I was blessed to have the right people who instilled good values in me, a positive environment and education system and these helped me grasp these opportunities.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years (career and/or personal goals)?
Career – bring my family business into the international arena i.e. trade online and build a international brand name.
Personal – become small family businesses mentor on sustainable business growth path and share my experience, knowledge and values.

What advice would you give to current and future students of USP?
Grab this moment as it will not come back, don’t waste it. There is time for everything. Remember that we need knowledge which we gain from studying as well as soft skills (such as communication skills, time & task management skills, creativity and problem-solving skills, accepting responsibility and taking on leadership role) in order to prosper in career and personally. Education process never stops.

Please share top three tips that you think are most important for our current students or recent graduates that will help them when starting out on their career paths.
•    Build your soft skills as it is as important as your technical knowlegde (as mentioned above)
•    A challenge now is actually an opportunity. All that is needed is positivity and faith
•    Keep upskilling yourself so that you can do and enjoy different things in life.

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