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Entrepreneur returns to JCU to pay it forward

Mr Soumik Chakraborty returned to alma mater and shared his knowledge with students

James Cook University's supportive academics inspired former student, Mr Soumik Chakraborty, to return as a sessional lecturer. PHOTO: TED CHEN

"When you learn, teach. When you get, give." These words of wisdom from renowned American poet Maya Angelou might well be a mantra for Mr Soumik Chakraborty.

A graduate of James Cook University who studied at its Singapore campus, the 39-year-old wears many hats. Besides a corporate career, he was the founder of AAR Consultancy and AAR Digital Pte ltd - Online marketing consultancy, lecturer in education institutions and now the Director of Training & Search Marketing for digital marketing agency Happy Marketer, a Merkle Company, part of the Dentsu Aegis Network.

He credits James Cook University (JCU) with giving him a well-rounded education and equipping him with the tools necessary to be an entrepreneur. He graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Information Technology and in 2011 Master of Business Administration.

"To me, JCU is not just an educational institution. There are many universities that provide education in the fields that I was interested in. But to me, my experience with JCU have shown that the university is not just a place where knowledge is gained, but also a place to help you grow and forge a very successful career path," he says.

He paid it forward in his previous role as a sessional lecturer at JCU.

"I love to teach and mentor. That's one part of me which will not change. JCU is a strong reason for who I have become today. I wanted to give back, which made me seek them out for a teaching position. My transition into teaching has been smooth and that enabled me to mentor students besides teaching actively," he adds.

Mr Soumik Chakraborty was part of a founding group to bring the Computer Society Singapore and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Student Chapter to JCU - making JCU the fourth campus to host an IEEE student chapter at the time. PHOTO: TED CHEN

First spark of entrepreneurship

During his undergraduate days with JCU in 2006, his entrepreneurial spirit shone through in the various initiatives he was involved in. For example, he was part of a founding group to bring the Computer Society Singapore and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Student Chapter to JCU - making JCU the fourth campus to host an IEEE student chapter at the time.

"JCU always encouraged and supported us in every possible way, allowing us to network and meet people, have opportunities to learn and get the exposure you need. They have always given us the platform, but they foster the spirit of entrepreneurship by leaving it up to the students to pursue their initiatives on campus."

With his mentorship skills endorsed by many students, he has teamed with students to start a partnership with the University to create the Business Entrepreneurship and Mentorship (BEAM) programme.

BEAM was set up in 2018 to bridge the connection with students and various industries to give JCU students the opportunities to network and learn from the professionals.

Solid education

Mr Chakraborty said the diversity in JCU's pool of students and academics appealed to him when he was choosing a university.

Its student population is not just diverse in nationality, language or race, but also in age and life experience, offering a global learning experience in Singapore.

Looking back at his undergraduate days at JCU, Mr Chakraborty says that having classmates from different countries and backgrounds has honed his interpersonal and communication skills, enabling him to connect with people from all walks of life. The experiences also fostered a more outgoing personality in him.

Mr Chakraborty shares that the lecturers were always going beyond the lecture notes by giving case studies from their own professional experiences. This gave students a broader perspective on how the industry works.

"An education at JCU really opened my perspective of education in general. The well-structured curriculum helps provide students with realistic assignments and a chance to meet with students from other countries. I believe they have helped us prepare for the working world and in securing our first jobs."

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