From challenging herself academically in a language she hardly spoke, to becoming a manager in a global consulting firm and chair of TFAN, Cíntia Chen’s time at Trinity gave her the foundation to excel academically and prosper in her career. But what did it take?
Although home is now Melbourne, Cíntia Chen has moved around a lot. With ethnic ties to China, an upbringing in Brazil, her teenage years in Macao, and her university studies in Melbourne, she has been a part of multiple communities, cultures and international experiences. Today, she considers herself a citizen of the world, with strong ties to Australia.
Cíntia’s foray into Australian culture came in 2009 when she moved to Melbourne as a Foundation Studies student. From the get-go, she was determined to take advantage of the opportunities college life offered. ‘I went to Trinity College because it gave me a direct pathway to Melbourne University. It was not only the best, but the fastest way to get in, especially as an international student.’
Being thrown into a new culture and environment at such a young age meant Cíntia’s move to Melbourne came with its challenges – and ones that many international students can relate to: moving to a foreign country with no family, conversing in English and finding contentment in independence.
Some of the biggest challenges for Cíntia, however, were academic. She recalls feeling frustrated going from a straight-A student in high school to struggling with a new academic milieu in her first year. Nonetheless, Cíntia distinctly remembers being faced with two choices: either give in to her new reality or step up. She went for the latter. ‘I chose to work harder and push myself to be better.’
This fortuitous decision ended up reframing Cíntia’s mindset about tackling hardship. ‘Over the year, it became natural for me to look at a challenge and think, this is difficult – this means I must be learning something,’ she says.
Thanks to her tenacity and altered perspective, today Cíntia is able to balance a seat as chair of our Foundation Studies Alumni Advisory Committee (TFAN), member of our council and Information Technology Advisory Committee (ITAC), and a management position at KPMG – one of the world’s biggest consulting companies – as well as running the Australian-based International Volleyball Club.
Finding comfort in challenge means Cíntia has overcome extraordinary boundaries. At work, she’s been promoted every year or two and has claimed title as one of the youngest managers in her community of practice and the first female consultant to be promoted to manager within her team at KPMG. ‘In the moment, when faced with challenges, it feels really hard. But I know that once I overcome them, I will look back and realise that I have climbed a mountain.’
At TFAN, Cíntia uses her competitive yet reflective nature to do what she feels is one of the most important roles of a leader: being a good facilitator. Facilitating communication at a high level of organisation has enabled her to promote more discussion around the table, and this, she hopes, is one of the most significant achievements she has made at Trinity. Because, according to Cíntia, bringing people together and ensuring everyone has a say not only allows diverse viewpoints to challenge our thinking, but also ensures everyone has a chance to make a meaningful contribution. And she knows from personal experience that putting yourself out there is a surefire way to get results.
By Blanca Brew Ferrer