Scholarship recipient plans to help Pacific nations develop

17 November 2015

Samantha Cook, a lawyer specialising in cross-border and international business transactions, has been awarded the $60,000 BOSS Emerging Leaders MBA Scholarship.

Samantha Cook (centre) with BOSS Magazine Editor Joanne Gray and MBA Director Professor Guy Ford.

Awarded by the University of Sydney Business School and the Australian Financial Review BOSS Magazine, the $60,000 BOSS Emerging Leaders MBA Scholarship will enable Cook to join the Business School's innovative and industry-oriented Master of Business Administration (MBA) program alongside a cohort of Australia's next generation of business leaders.

"We are delighted to offer the 2016 BOSS Emerging Leaders MBA Scholarship to Samantha," said MBA Program Director Professor Guy Ford.

"Leadership sits at the very heart of our MBA program. It challenges the participants in all sorts of ways to develop the resilience and agility required of business leaders today.

"Samantha will join a diverse cohort of students – from medical researchers to TV creatives and financiers – in a very enriching learning environment built on learning by doing."

Cook is an associate in the Corporate and International Business team at Pacific Legal Network Australia. Fluent in Mandarin, Cook kick-started her legal career at a top-tier international law firm in Beijing, and has a strong understanding of the opportunities and challenges of doing business with China. She says her extensive in-country experience has been "fundamental" in preparing her "to assist clients in an increasingly international business environment."

Her passion for the Pacific and previous experiences led to her current role, and according to Samantha, “a heightened interest in the opportunities that can be realised through private sector participation in developing economies.”

This desire is evidenced in her recent activities, which include working on a pro-bono project with the International Trade Centre (ITC) to set-up a national women’s weaving association in Papua New Guinea to assist with the economic empowerment of women.

"I am passionate about enhancing and promoting meaningful business collaboration in the Pacific,” continued Samantha. “Undertaking the MBA at the University of Sydney Business School presents innumerable opportunities to assist with the alignment of my career ambitions and passions. It is also an opportunity to challenge my perspectives on leadership in order to become a more effective leader."

"As I contemplate the future and where I want to be, it's in a leadership role in the corporate advisory space, driving ethical and sustainable investment in the Asia-Pacific region. I am grateful for this scholarship opportunity, which will equip me with the knowledge to leverage my existing expertise, as well as develop the leadership skills necessary to enhance my impact."

Cook was selected for from an extraordinary pool of highly talented applicants. The rigorous selection process included an assessment of individual leadership strengths and weaknesses, a masterclass and a reflective essay. The top 11 candidates were chosen to participate in a final interview with a high-powered judging panel and a media skills workshop provided by the Australian Financial Review.

For the first time since the launch of the scholarship in 2013, all eligible finalists will be awarded a partial scholarship to complete the MBA at the Business School. The Social Impact Scholarship will support qualifying candidates in achieving the next stage of their professional aspirations.

"The Business School and BOSS Magazine share a commitment to identify and nurture Australia's emerging leaders," said Business School Dean Professor Greg Whitwell.

"The Emerging Leaders Program and scholarship opportunity is concrete manifestation of that commitment, and an exciting initiative which recognises the talents of the next generation of senior leaders, providing them with support to develop their leadership practice. We are pleased to extend that support to more students this year through the finalist scholarship."

Commenting on the AFR's support of the Emerging Leaders MBA Scholarship, BOSS Editor Joanne Gray said it is a valuable way "to tap into a dynamic new pool of leadership talent and build a connected community of future leaders".

"In this way, we are playing a part in ensuring that the future is in the hands of leaders of the highest quality."

The first recipient of the BOSS Emerging Leaders MBA Scholarship in 2013 was Anita Mitchell, General Manager, Sustainability, Lend Lease. Her passion for environmental sustainability sees her working on the $6 billion Barangaroo development and urban renewal project on the shores of Sydney’s Darling Harbour.

The 2014 recipient was Omar Khan, Director, Strategy and Development, Crescent Wealth - the nation's first investment firm to operate in line with Islamic business principles.

In 2015, the scholarship was awarded to Natalie Cope, Manager, Partnerships and Development, Asialink Business, where she is supporting Australian businesses to build Asia capabilities in the workforce and improve Australia's engagement with Asia.

"We are delighted to continue our partnership with the AFR BOSS Magazine to deliver the BOSS Emerging Leaders Program and Scholarship, now in our fourth year together," concluded Professor Whitwell.

"The BOSS Emerging Leaders MBA Scholarship recognises leadership potential in Australia's future leaders. It is for those who are ready to act on the encouragement of others and their own drive to develop their leadership qualities and lead the next generation."