During my time at ANU, I learnt to always be curious, strive for continuous improvement and be proactive - negotiate and don't take no for an answer!
Jia Xie is a driven ANU alumna who has combined her professional skills with her passion for social justice. Through positions as a registered interpreter, business analyst working for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and aged care clients, and now a financial analyst who assesses the financial viability of registered housing agencies, she works to safeguard and promote better outcomes for vulnerable members of the community.
Originally from Nanjing China, Jia had a desire to study abroad after school. She says she "was drawn to Australia's beautiful landscape, friendly people and sunny weather". At the age of 18, Jia drew courage from her mum in particular to face the world and study in a foreign country, and chose to enrol at ANU after her favourite high school teacher (who had also studied in Australia) recommended ANU as Australia's top university.
Jia commenced at ANU in 2010, studying a joint Bachelor of Commerce (International Business) / Bachelor of Science (Materials Science) from 2010 to 2014, then a Master of Financial Management from 2014 to 2015, and a Master of Finance from 2015 to 2016. During her undergraduate studies, Jia enjoyed living on campus at Burton & Garran Hall (B&G). Jia reflects on fond memories of "cooking with my friends and sharing meals together. I also loved late-night study sessions at the computer lab while eating a giant $5 bag of lollies from the B&G bar". Of her studies at ANU, Jia says "I learnt lots of interesting concepts from passionate lecturers and tutors across a range of disciplines, from business and finance to science. They encouraged me to have confidence in myself and trained me to have a growth and analytical mindset. My courses also provided me with excellent opportunities to explore areas I was interested in and as a result, I met amazing people from around the world".
As an undergraduate, Jia's passion for social justice led her to volunteer in a range of capacities, where she was involved in initiatives including the Kingsford Smith reading program for disadvantaged primary school students, delivering forensic science workshops at regional schools, being an Orientation Leader and Student Ambassador for ANU, and active membership of the B&G study group.
Reflecting on her transition from student to finance professional, Jia says, "as a woman from a culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) background, I didn't get the first handful of jobs that I applied for after my graduation. This certainly affected my confidence and filled me with lots of self-doubt. At the time, I thought that I would never be able to have a career in finance if I didn't get into a graduate program. However, I started doing some finance related volunteering work for a not-for-profit organisation in Canberra and impressed them enough to be offered a permanent position".
"In hindsight, I should have pursued internships during my study and applied for positions more widely after I had graduated. My advice to fellow female ANU graduates is that everyone has a different career path and you are your own best investment. Be patient, continue to learn, develop yourself, connect with people and ask for feedback. When you are the best version of yourself, you will get the job you desire."
In Jia's role as a business analyst working at CatholicCare in Canberra, she assessed a portfolio's service delivery to NDIS and aged care clients through continuous stakeholder engagement. Jia applied her tertiary knowledge of business and finance gained from ANU and used client and support worker feedback to improve operational practices and streamline business processes. She performed regular quality audits to ensure that her clients - some of the most vulnerable members of our community - had their voices heard. She also implemented several strategic initiatives to enhance employee training and service allocation procedures.
Since moving from Canberra to Melbourne at the end of 2019, Jia has worked as a financial analyst at the Department of Treasury and Finance in Victoria. Her team regulates the community housing sector in Victoria, which has a combined asset base of over $3.7 billion. They assess the financial viability of registered housing agencies and review the quality of their rental services, safeguarding and promoting better outcomes for vulnerable individuals.
Jia says, "all my jobs have helped me get to where I am today. Each position has taught me valuable things and provided me with unique experiences. I have learned from and appreciate all the people who I've met along the way". In the next five to ten years, Jia looks forward to attaining her Chartered Finance Analyst (CFA) credential - a highly regarded and internationally recognised qualification for financial professionals of which she has completed Levels 1-3 while working full-time. She aspires to pursue further studies, and notes, "I am still deciding between doing Law (e.g. a Juris Doctor) or doing a PhD in Behavioural Finance/Economics". She also aims to become a Board Member of a not-for-profit organisation, leveraging her finance and regulation background to help them promote social initiatives, and aims to run her own business.
Thinking about her field, Jia notes, "finance is still quite male-dominated. I think some men can be quite dismissive of young women, particularly those from CALD backgrounds". She reflects "during my time at ANU, I learnt to always be curious, strive for continuous improvement and be proactive - negotiate and don't take no for an answer!"
In her spare time, Jia enjoys travel and being active. Women from across the globe who have inspired Jia include Marie Curie, Hua Mulan and Audrey Hepburn. Of these women, Jia elaborates, "Marie Curie - I think her achievements are inspirational. Through her curiosity and dedication, she discovered two elements (radium and polonium), revolutionised our understanding of radioactivity (winning two Nobel prizes) and pioneered the use of radiation in medicine."
"Hua Mulan - I grew up reading her stories. She is a legendary warrior from Chinese history, who took her aging father's place within the army. She never gave up, discovered her own strengths, and found alternative pathways to success. She is a universal symbol of empowerment for women."
"Audrey Hepburn - I love her style. I think it is classic and timeless. I always feel her presence when I watch her movies. When she retired from acting, she worked tirelessly as a humanitarian ambassador (including for UNICEF)."
Jia also finds her mother and her mother-in-law as consistent sources of personal inspiration and support. Her mother is a successful entrepreneur. Jia says, "she has given me the confidence to pursue my dreams and encourages me to believe that I can achieve whatever I set my mind to." Jia's mother-in-law, Michelle Brock writes short stories and poetry, and has won several writing awards.
Jia Xie is a powerful example of a woman who has combined her passion for social justice with her love of learning and applying her analytical skills. Jia says that her dream job is "any job where I can make a difference by solving real-world problems and empowering vulnerable people."
She encourages women starting out in her field to, "be confident, bold and sassy. You are capable of anything you set your mind to."