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Interview with Ying Hou -2023 Australian Ambassador's Award for Women in Leadership finalist.

Ying Hou (Olivia): The University of Melbourne Shapes a Visionary Leader  

Olivia Ying Hou embarked on a journey at the University of Melbourne that would take her to an illustrious career in the fashion industry. As an international student pursuing a Master of Management, Olivia's experiences at UoM led her to the position of Asia-Pacific Brand Director for AGATHA Paris, a renowned French fashion jewellery brand. Olivia has told us how her educational background at the University of Melbourne influenced her life and career, making her a transformative leader and a bridge between cultures. 


University of Melbourne: A Crucible of Growth and Discovery 

Olivia came to the University of Melbourne with a bachelor’s degree in engineering from China. She wanted to broaden her horizons and so ventured into the Master of Management program, an academic discipline that was entirely new to her. The University of Melbourne, known for its rigorous academic environment and vibrant campus life, offered Olivia an opportunity to immerse herself in a diverse and challenging setting. It was here that she honed her analytical skills, embraced complex problem-solving, and nurtured a global perspective on business and leadership. 


From Engineering to Management: Bridging Disciplines 

The leap from engineering to management might seem too far for many, but for Olivia, it was a calculated stride towards fulfilling her multifaceted interests. The University of Melbourne provided a suitable platform for this transition, allowing her to leverage her analytical prowess from engineering while exploring the nuances of management and accounting. This unusual combination of skills proved to be a turning point in her career, equipping her with the ability to navigate the complexities of the fashion industry with precision and creativity. 


Cultivating a Passion for Fashion and Leadership 

While Olivia's academic pursuits were rigorous, her life at the University of Melbourne was not confined to textbooks and lectures.  Melbourne, known for its cultural life and dynamic fashion scene, was ideal for her to explore and deepen her passion for fashion. Working part-time in the fashion industry while studying, Olivia gained firsthand experience that complemented her academic studies. This blend of practical exposure and academic rigour at the University of Melbourne was instrumental in shaping her career path. 


Embracing Change and Pursuing Passion 

The University of Melbourne also played a crucial role in fostering Olivia's openness to change and her pursuit of passion. The diverse academic and cultural experiences she encountered encouraged her to step out of her comfort zone - building the confidence that allows her to make bold decisions in her career. There is a certain degree of passion that drives one to transition from engineering to management to eventually to the the fashion industry.  Olivia attributes this drive to her time in Melbourne. 

Leadership and Multicultural Advocacy 

Olivia was involved in various multicultural initiatives and community service in Melbourne that contributed to her leadership skills and commitment to social causes. She was the first Chinese ambassador for the Australian Women's Cancer Foundation and also engaged in initiatives to promote multiculturalism. These experiences, that emerged from her university life, underscored the importance of giving back to the community and leveraging her position to advocate for meaningful causes. 




Conclusion: University of Melbourne's Lasting Impact 

Olivia's journey from the University of Melbourne to becoming a visionary leader in the fashion industry is a compelling story of growth, passion and transformation. Olivia’s education did not just prepare her for the challenges of the business world - it inspired her to blend her interests in engineering and management with her love for fashion, culminating in a career that transcended boundaries. Olivia’s achievements were recognised in the 2023 Australia China Alumni Awards, when she was a finalist for the Australian Ambassador’s Award for Women in Leadership. 

Olivia’s story is a testament to how a solid educational foundation, coupled with the courage to pursue one's passions, can lead to a rich personal life and a fulfilling career. 

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