Ayonti Mahreen Huq is a 23 year old Dual Degree Masters student from Dhaka, Bangladesh. She is studying for a Masters of International Business from the University of Melbourne and the Masters of Supply Chain Management from HEC Montreal.
"I wanted something radically different from my previous degrees; something which was more ‘focused’ in nature than holistic"
Q: You grew up in Bangladesh, tell us about your experience growing up there and maybe one thing we wouldn’t know about Bangladesh
A: Growing up, I was a quirky little kid who would get excited about almost anything from
flowers to spiders. I studied under the British curriculum but my parents made sure I had ample exposure to our native history and tradition (including our unique art, culture, and architecture) and this really helped me build up my creative base. Also, the advent of rapid economic development in Bangladesh began during my childhood years and the effect it had on the country’s social and demographic structure is definitely an interesting chemistry I get to observe as well as be a part of.
A thing you might not know: Compared to other similar Asian countries, women in Bangladesh have managed to gain a lot more traction in terms of equality over the last decade. As per World Economic Forum, Bangladesh ranked first in terms of gender equality in South Asia in 2017.
Q: When did you know you wanted to study in Australia?
A: Melbourne Business School and ANU had always been in my list of universities I was interested to study in and after doing my research about the city of Melbourne itself, I decided that the artsy, hipster vibe offered by Melbourne was perfect for me.
Q: You started your degree at UniMelb and decided to pursue the dual-degree in Montreal...why did you decide to take that route?
A: International Business is no doubt an amazing degree and the facilities at Melbourne Business School make the experience even better. However, I also wanted something radically different from my previous degrees; something which was more ‘focused’ in nature than holistic. Supply Chain fit all those criteria really well. But beyond that, the actual opportunity to explore a brand new country/environment was what attracted me to the dual-degree module in the first place.
Q: You have a background in graphic design...where did that come from and how did you get started in design?
A: I have always been a bored-at-class sketchbook artist and art is something I have been doing forever. It was actually in 2016 that two of my friends suggested me to open and Instagram account to showcase my self-taught art and voilà! The back-then editor of Unimelb’s women’s mag Judy’s Punch managed to stumble upon it and gave me an offer to be in the graphics team. From there, I started getting more opportunities and my passion managed to turn into a profession.
Q: Where do you get inspiration for your artwork?
A: My art aesthetic is constantly evolving but I’d say key inspirations are the Internet, brown culture, and the aspect of femininity.
Some of Ayonti's own designs. Follow her art at @proartcrastinator on Instagram.
Q: How have you found your time in Montreal so far? How do the cities and universities differ in your opinion?
A: Montréal is amazing. I love how it borrows heavily from both French and English cultures yet manages to maintain an entirely unique culture of its own. Plus, Montreal is quite laid back in nature compared to the dynamic scenario in Melbourne.
Since I did my undergrad in Unimelb as well and was involved in departments other than just commerce itself, HEC feels like more ‘business-school’ to me for obvious reasons. That being said, the courses here are designed in a manner which permits you sufficient free time to focus on other things you want to do so I would not say there has been a significant trade off in terms of my artistic endeavours.
Q: Have you picked up any French yet?
I actually knew a bit of basic French beforehand so that really helped as a starting point. But obviously your French skills brush up a lot more here because both HEC and Cote- des Neiges (the area where HEC is located in) are quite francophone in nature.
Q: What's do you hope to have obtained by the end of your dual degree studies?
A: I plan to have a more global approach to my career and I hope my time at HEC will provide me with a refined understanding of supply chain management and North American economies like Unimelb did with regards to Asian and Australian economies.
Q: Thinking about your time at UniMelb, what class resonated with you the most?
A: I’d say it was Asian Business which was taught by Hari Bapuji. Hari is an amazing mentor and I loved how his class facilitated proper discussion about so many Asian countries which are normally not covered by other subjects. This really helped clear stereotypes about these countries.
"I am very much open to any opportunity which will get me out of my comfort zone and help me learn about new cultures and work practices."
Q: Do you see yourself coming back to work in Australia after finishing your degree?
A: I love Melbourne with all my heart and I honestly won’t be surprised if I find myself coming back here again. Having said that, I am also keen to explore countries I have not yet properly ventured to. I am very much open to any opportunity which will get me out of my comfort zone and help me learn about new cultures and work practices.
Q: What industry entices you the most for your career after Uni?
A: Definitely a dynamic/creative industry like media, marketing, or IT. Any industry which allows constant experimentation with new ideas.
Q: What advice do you have for people thinking about the dual degree?
A: I’d say the most important things are an open mindset, self-confidence, and perseverance. The transition across culture (and continents) can be taxing for a lot of people and this might impact their academic and mental wellbeing and the overall thing can become quite messy since you do not have much time to settle in before you hit the ground running with uni classes. Also, supply chain is quite different from international business so you should really be willing to take on the change and not be nervous if things do not initially go the way you expect it to. Best to always seek support from your mentors and peers and to explore and learn as much as you can about the new culture and academic procedures you are exposed to. Ultimately, do a fair bit of research about the dual degree requirements and ask yourself if you are ready to take on this challenge.
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