The first graduates of Monash University’s Master of Indigenous Business Leadership are the next level in decision-making leaders

Each of the Indigenous graduating students, who are already successful business leaders, entrepreneurs and allied health professionals, can now progress across the industries in which they work, using cultural traditions and the business knowledge they’ve learnt from Monash University’s Master of Indigenous Business Leadership.

The students, many from interstate who travelled to Melbourne for their studies, are now equipped to take seats at decision-making tables, leading with a confidence that is deeply grounded in their cultural traditions and knowledge.

The first of its kind in Australia, the Master’s course is created by Indigenous people for Indigenous people, and teaches a syllabus that is centred around prioritising First Nations knowledge systems, culture and leadership. The program’s approach of dovetailing Indigenous knowledge with business acumen is the backbone of its success.

The William Cooper Institute and Monash Business School jointly offer the Master of Indigenous Business Leadership. Jamil Tye, Yorta Yorta/Boon Wurrung man and Head of the William Cooper Institute, said the degree blends Indigenous knowledge with western models of governance, creating a culturally safe program for students to feel they belong.

“The capacity of these students to lead and create positive change for the future of our community is even stronger as a united group,” he said.

The course exemplifies Monash’s commitment to Indigenous education outcomes as part of its Impact 2030 Strategic Plan.

The first cohort of graduates has developed personal and professional skills to collaboratively explore the different cultural, political and economic contexts in which business is experienced by Indigenous communities, exchanging ideas on how to best steer change as emerging Indigenous leaders and shape a positive future for not only Indigenous Australians, but all Australians.

Katrina Johnson, Gooreng Gooreng woman and Co-Director of The Master of Indigenous Business Leadership, said: “We place a strong emphasis on mastering both Indigenous and western business leadership concepts because it is crucial for our leaders to be confident in walking and working in both worlds so they can access the resources needed and build power together to create the change we need now and into the future.”

“Through robust strength-based conversations, sharing knowledge, live business cases, exposure to diverse Indigenous leaders and wisdom from our Elders about our origins of business and where the future of business is heading, these graduates can confidently proceed using Indigenous terms of reference to design business strategy.”

Graduate Alice Currie, Mununjahli Yugambeh woman and Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Thirrili Indigenous Suicide Prevention Service, said of her time studying the Masters degree: “This degree was unlike any other degree I’ve done. Any time I needed to go back to country or back home – I was supported.

“I took on the challenge of engaging with academics, sharing the realities of our communities and the industries we are a part of. By combining our ways of doing business with a deep understanding of western business concepts, I applied this unique perspective to address real world problems.

“As students we walked together – we uplifted each other. We helped each other grow as a leader and learned how to practice these principles in the workplace – to uplift Indigenous people to work together.

“I’m proud I did this. If you want to pursue education – Do it, just do it! Education is the tool.”