Alek Safarian, the founder of Australia's largest private medical research firm, Novotech, has donated $1.4 million to fund an ongoing University of Sydney Business School MBA scholarship because he says a "good education is integral to success in life".
Mr Safarian’s gift, the largest in the Business School’s history, was announced during the University’s annual 24 hour fundraising day, Pave the Way.
The announcement also coincided with a number one spot for the Business School MBA program in the biennial MBA rankings published by the Australian Financial Review’s BOSS magazine.
The Safarian donation has been welcomed by the School’s MBA Director, Professor Guy Ford, as “an extremely generous vote of confidence in a unique program which aims to equip students with the skills to lead in a volatile corporate environment”.
Mr Safarian, who graduated from the University of Sydney with a degree in pharmacy and an MBA, says he was fortunate enough to earn his MBA “through a fully employer funded scheme which is not so common today”.
“My academic path, through pharmacy first then an MBA, has served me well professionally and personally,” Mr Safarian said. “Through this gift I hope to encourage new students to find their own success by going down a similar path, and under the same conditions that I was able to enjoy all those years ago.”
After completing his studies at the University of Sydney, Mr Safarian worked in the pharmaceutical industry before establishing the contract research firm, Novotech, in 1996.
“I always had an interest in big business, so straight out of pharmacy school, I joined the pharmaceutical industry where there are a number of opportunities for pharmacists to be involved in either scientific or sales/marketing disciplines,” he said.
“After I gained an MBA, I went down the entrepreneurship path via a startup company, Novotech, which over the time has grown to be the largest Australian firm of its kind with operations in 12 countries in the Asia Pacific employing around 350 scientists.”
The first scholarship to be funded from Mr Safarian’s donation will be awarded in 2019.
The University’s Pave the Way is an annual fundraising challenge. This year’s event has supported treatment for injured wildlife, Great Barrier Reef research, English lessons for refugees, mental health research and student scholarships.
In thanking Mr Safarian for his funding support, the Dean of the Business School, Professor Greg Whitwell, said the donation would provide “unexpected opportunities and change lives”.
“This kind of support from individuals, like Mr Safarian, and our close relationship with industry are essential if we are to continue to offer cutting edge learning and teaching,” Professor Whitwell concluded. “This is genuinely leadership for good.”