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MBA student profile: Heath Ducker

12 August 2019
Written by Heath Ducker
MBA student Heath Ducker talks about his experiences with the University of Sydney Business School MBA program.
Heath Ducker, current MBA student

Our future anything is nothing if we do not equip ourselves with the skills and connections required to achieve it. All of us possess a greatness. Something we were born to do. Yet too few of us make good on that. For me, completing an MBA was part of making good on what I believe I was born to do.

Why I chose to do my MBA

Long ago, I decided that I wanted to make a difference and became a well-known advocate for social justice within the political arena. I grew up in severe disadvantage - one of 10 children in a single parent housing commission home in Western Sydney and suffered abuse at a young age by a family friend. This steeled my determination to make a difference.

I became a lawyer, and before commencing my MBA, had worked for leading nation law firm Gadens, as a legal reporter for the South Asian Human Rights Centre in India, and for the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet as Advisor to the Attorney General.

At the same time, I continued to advocate for change, publishing my autobiography with Random House giving a voice to the underprivileged, and appeared on the ABC’s Australian Story and Q&A programs.

This career path provided a solid platform in advocacy, policy, analysis and leadership. Then, when I left the Attorney General’s office, I was appointed CEO of Youth Insearch, a national charity that for 33 years has been delivering intervention programs for at-risk youth. This is a charity that helped me as a teenager, so I know its power first hand.

It was then that I decided to complete my MBA. Soon after commencing in this role, I understood to be able to take Youth Insearch to the next level, I needed to supplement my skills with the technical knowledge and expertise of management and networks to call on for advice and to grow support for our work.

The University of Sydney Business School promised to be unique in providing a practical experience, rather than theory alone. In my role, the demand for personal and organisational improvement is constant. I needed to be able to directly apply what I learnt to the workplace. I did not have years to wait.

Putting theory into practice

Completed in my second semester, Strategies for Growth provided the tools and feedback to develop a world-class three-year strategy for Youth Insearch’s future. Data Analytics and Modelling gave me the technical knowledge and help to revise the pricing model for our programs. The International Social Enterprise subject, based in India, empowered me to reconsider our revenue sources and devise a longer-term plan to build sustainable revenue. Business Negotiations and Decision Making combined a series of simulated negotiations and latest research giving me the edge in negotiation major corporate partnerships and government contracts for our organisation.

To make our Future Anything come to life, we need to be humble enough to acknowledge our weaknesses, surround ourselves with the right expertise, and do the work needed to close the gap. The MBA has enabled that for me in a supportive environment of peers on the same journey.

Achieving my 'future anything'

Through building out my skills in the MBA, I have successfully built Youth Insearch. We have grown by an average of 20 percent each year since I commenced. We are executing more efficiently, delivering higher quality programs, helping more young people, and have the foundation for even greater expansion. With this experience behind me, my desire to make a difference is already a reality, and my Future Anything, moulded as it becomes over time, is near.