Suzanne Nieuwenhuizen

Bachelor of Social Sciences Alumni
Alumni

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of International Business Social Science And Policy (now Bachelor of Arts (Majoring in International Business) & Bachelor of Social Research and Policy)

Current Position:Technical & Innovation Lead, Australian Financial Crimes Exchange

1. What attracted you to studying Arts & Social Sciences at UNSW?

Going to university was a clear next step after finishing high school. The what to study and where a little more challenging! I certainly shopped around and went to most open days. UNSW felt more open and innovative than the other the others. There were an energy and interest form the Lecturers that made me want to be on campus. So UNSW was easy!

Arts? Well that wasn’t on my agenda. I knew I couldn’t study accounting and go out and be an accountant. I was better at English than Maths, both my parents are science trained, so the way Social Science tackled larger issues seemed like a reasonable fit. I didn’t know where it would go when I started the degree – much less where I would be now!

2. Did you always have a clear idea of what you wanted to do after completing your degree?

Um, how can I put this nicely? No.

I had ideas about what I didn’t want to do, but there wasn’t one true path. There never has been. If anything I have seen more times were a definite vision about what comes next limits the opportunities that people are willing to offer to you. Now we seem to combat that by ‘being open but knowing what we want’ in HR speak.

I never saw a complete vision of what I wanted. The best thing I can suggest is exploring every opportunity you can see. In doing that you sort the absolute nos from the doable and find the things you think of as amazing. Unfortunately, no one can test the cases but you… unless you decide on accounting...

3. How did your time at UNSW help shape who you are today?

University is that interim stage were you go from full on student to full on work. The best thing UNSW did was helped me think in the ways the working world needs. It’s not about wrote content anymore, it’s about getting any problem and saying ‘ok, this is what I think we need to tackle that’ individually or as team. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never done anything like it before. It’s that unique ability to apply all of your previous understanding in a way you didn’t dream possible. It’s not saying no to something on your life/your job just because you haven’t been taught how to best meet that requirement. UNSW taught me how to adapt to new uncertainties and just address what is coming next.

4. How did studying Arts & Social Sciences at UNSW help you develop transferable skills? 

Fundamentally, we are all human. We all need to talk to one another and find a way to admit we need compassion from one another. We also need a safe place to say when we don’t understand what someone is telling us. I’ve been an analyst, driven by data and purpose from almost all of my career. From working with some of the brightest people in my field I know the brilliance means nothing if you can’t express it to a decision maker who isn’t you! You have to be able to relate to them, whether it’s your boss, a stakeholder or your board. That’s where Arts and Social Science graduates become the interpreters, with the core knowledge to relate and the ability to transform that understanding into something everyone can understand. The shifts in our society don’t happen because great ideas couldn’t be understood, it’s because they could.

5. How did studying Arts & Social Sciences at UNSW help form your view on the world and the contemporary issues we face today?

Overall, it was a gateway to a more balanced view. Everything we are presented with is highly polarizing. Looking past that to the facts and arguing from the other side is something we have to acknowledge to be effective in whatever role we take in life.

6. How did UNSW Arts & Social Sciences help prepare you for the workforce throughout your degree?

The biggest challenge from the workforce is having to do things you haven’t done before. It’s going to happen. Arts and Social Science – particularly SocSc asks you to apply your views to large scale problems without a right or wrong answer. It teaches you that there can be many ‘rights’ as long as you have a compelling, evidence based justification to back it up.

7. How did you get your foot in the door as a graduate, following the completion of your degree?

I was very conscious of finishing study so started looking around the year before I was meant to finish. I knew I couldn’t stay forever and wanted to be positioned to get the job I thought I wanted when the time was right. I ended up getting a graduate position in that initial year of looking and so did not do a thesis year.

8. What advice would you give to someone considering studying Arts at UNSW?

I think that depends on the person. That is probably the beauty of Arts – you don’t have to be a particular sort of person to make Arts fit with you or to fit in with Arts. If you aren’t one of the 10% of people that was born knowing exactly what you were going to do in life take a look at it, explore the opportunities it offers and decide for yourself.

9. What is your most memorable experience from your time at UNSW?

WooHoo! So many. Professionally there was one course that still resonates the most with me. Where it was all about applying every technique we knew to real world situations – from research to analysis to presentation. That was where it all became very real.

Shots with the Russian Society and the awesome barista at the library lawn coffee cart (you made 9am Monday lectures brighter) run a close second.

10. Why do you Love What You Do?

Why? Ultimately because I’ve always been driven by purpose – that need to be occupied and deliver something meaningful. Not necessarily a trait linked to an Arts degree. Arts gave the ability to seek as many challenges as I wanted to take on. There were no clear barriers and no boxes where my role stops here. I love what I do for the same reason, it is ever changing, every hour ever day. What I hope is that the people around me see meaningful output that furthers their next steps. Trust and progress go hand in hand, it is the greatest priviledge when your stakeholders can see both.