Launching a Global Career from Tasmania: Gerard’s Journey
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live and study in Tasmania?
To find out, we spoke to Gerard Quek, University of Tasmania (UTAS) graduate and former president of the Tasmania University Law Society (TULS). Pictured (left) at his graduation.
Gerard knew that he wanted to become a lawyer from a young age. Influenced by his godfather, a respected lawyer in Singapore, he wanted his life to be about helping people.
“My godfather was my introduction to the legal profession. The idea of being in court and helping people became entrenched in my mind as something that I had to do. So I worked towards that goal,” says Gerard.
To be admitted as a lawyer in Singapore, you must complete a law degree from an approved university. While these universities exist all over the world, Gerard was drawn to study in Australia so he could stay closer to home. As far as Australian locations go, Tasmania’s clean air, relaxed lifestyle and friendly locals make it the perfect place to both study and call home.
“I wanted to be in a quieter place where I could focus on my studies, and I felt like the small city of Hobart would offer a good balance of city life as well as access to nature,” says Gerard.
Moving from your home country to somewhere foreign is a huge step out of most people’s comfort zones, and Gerard’s experience was no exception. When he first moved and began his Bachelor of Laws degree at UTAS, he found life difficult. He had never left Singapore before and had no family or friends to rely on.
“Everything was new to me,” he says. “I didn’t know anyone.”
He didn’t let that stop him, though. Making a commitment to himself to get out in the local community, he started to widen his circle. He decided to run for vice-president of sponsorship and marketing at TULS to meet even more people and give back to the university community.
“Much to my surprise, they were generally receptive and took me seriously. And to my even greater surprise, I was elected. I think that was a turning point for me. It gave me a lot more confidence in my abilities and I felt like I was truly a part of the student community,” says Gerard.
A year later, Gerard ran for president of TULS and was elected. Through his work with TULS, he was able to make connections all over the university and beyond. It allowed him to gain experience in being a leader.
“I learnt [that] as a leader you simply cannot please everyone. But what you can do is make decisions that best align with your conscience and morality and with the interests of the majority, and accept that some will have differing views,” says Gerard. Today, as he leads his own team of lawyers, he is reminded of those experiences.
After completing his studies, Gerard returned to Singapore to undertake his Bar exams and was admitted as a practising lawyer. He was fortunate to be able to join a start-up disputes law firm and begin his career. He is now a partner in that same firm.
In retrospect, Gerard feels that moving to Tasmania was fundamental to excelling in his studies.
“Tasmania was one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself. It was my first experience living abroad and it broadened my world view.”
Studying in Tasmania meant that Gerard’s professional network was considerably expanded. Many students from UTAS end up working in Singapore, as well as other countries worldwide.
“Having friendly faces around the world can help to create international opportunities,” says Gerard, who is currently serving clients based all over the globe.
Gerard’s study experience in Tasmania was vastly improved by the fact that he spent a lot of time and effort getting to know his local community.
“I highly recommend anyone to participate in local societies and community related activities. Sure, it will probably be more comfortable sticking with students from your own country, but that will also probably deprive you of benefitting from the rich experiences and world views that students of other nationalities have to offer,” Gerard says.
So when choosing where to study in Australia, definitely consider Tasmania!