The University of the South Pacific Economics Students Association (USP ESA) at “YEP! – it’s Young Economics Professionals!” on the 20th of September from 11am to 1pm at the FBE postgraduate lecture theatre.
“YEP! – it’s Young Economics Professionals!” was the second part of the Career Talk / Panel series organised by The University of the South Pacific Economics Students Association (USP ESA), held on the 20th of September from 11am to 1pm at the FBE postgraduate lecture theatre.
Organised under the ESA’s core objective of Intellectual and Professional Development, this event sought to bring a panel of young professionals from the Economics field as well as from the entrepreneurship arena to discuss their career journeys, their motivations and strength factors, challenges they faced and how they overcame them, and to share prospects, exposure and advice regarding careers in their respective fields.
The ESA was delighted to host four experienced and distinguished panellists: Ms Vrinda Jogia (Intern, Reserve Bank of Fiji), Ms Sonal Sharma (Senior Economist, Ministry of Economy), Ms Karishma Narayan (Principal Trade Economist, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism) and Ms Adelene Tutu (entrepreneur and founder of Get Lean Fiji).
The event began with opening and welcome remarks. Following this, the panel discussion was organised as an interactive, roundtable discussion between panellists and chaired by the Master and Mistress of Ceremony for the day.
During the discussion, Ms Jogia shared the learning and practical work experiences she received as an attachee and now and intern in the Economics group of the Reserve Bank. She described how she always wanted to work at the Reserve Bank and her belief that an internship gives her the exposure to ease transition into permanent job opportunities and how it can be a stepping stone for a successful career in Economics.
Additionally, Ms Sharma gave insights into working in the fiscal side (government budget, revenue, and macroeconomic research and forecasting area) and how her career began by simply taking on a new opportunity that came her way. On-the-job learning, self-learning and commitment were some of the ingredients to Ms Sharma’s success in her role and to becoming a Senior Economist since starting her work at the ministry in 2017.
Furthermore, being invaluably accomplished in her field of international trade and trade policy, Ms Narayan explained the significance of her work in establishing and maintaining trade relations between Fiji and other countries, assisting businesses and participating in trade negotiations. Pertaining to her career journey, she described that perseverance and receiving mentorship gave her the strength to accomplish so much at a young age – and also receive recognition under the inaugural class of “30 under 30: the faces of Fiji’s future”.
She faced challenges working in a new environment during her mission intern work at WTO in Geneva as well as while attaining her Masters in Applied Economics and Econometrics from Monash University in Australia. However, with encouragement and her courage and realisation that these challenges made her stronger as an individual, empowered her to successfully overcome those hurdles. Ms Narayan, as well as Ms Sharma, shared that national pride and positive impact of their work in the fiscal and trade area to people, businesses and the economy of Fiji are powerful motivational factors for them.
Equally, Ms Tutu shared her inspirational journey to starting and leading a business in Fiji, Get Lean Fiji. She discussed how it was being a mother of two, body-image issues and trying to fulfil a sense of contribution to her family and happiness for herself, which led her interest in exercise, nutrition, becoming fit and valuing one’s own self-worth. Subsequently, she started a simple business of fitness training for women, especially recent mothers, which quickly translated into a larger, innovative and more successful business.
Her journey is well-recognised as she also received recognition under the inaugural class of “30 under 30: the faces of Fiji’s future”, was recently a finalist for the Aspiring Entrepreneur Award at the Women in Business awards, and was one of the first recipients of the Young Entrepreneurship Scheme (YES) grant to develop Fiji’s first fitness app, which, along with social media and word of mouth marketing, originality and effectiveness of her product, allowed her to gain a niche advantage in the fitness industry.
In addition to sharing her journey, Ms Tutu advised that one should continuously seek the work that they are driven and passionate about, and which fuels their fire. She says it is important to evaluate one’s character and the characters of people one associates with and to surround oneself with positive energy and positive people.
She also shared that risk-taking is an essential part of business andadvised young budding entrepreneurs that if they have a business idea that they’re passionate about, then they should own it and run with it, and to pursue it in spite of any mistakes or hurdles they will face along the way because they will ultimately be triumphant.
Finally, question and answer session between audience and panellists followed after the panel discussion, and there was an active participation by the audience during this.
The USP ESA received positive feedback from audience and panellists about the event afterwards and were praised for this being a student-led initiative, which was impactful and well-attended and organised. The USP ESA hopes to continue the career talk / panel series the coming year.
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