Recognising our Accomplishments

The IEAA Fellowship provided me with aspirations to strive for. It offered benchmarks to which I could measure and manage my professional growth.

What motivated you to embark on the IEAA Fellowship journey?

For close to two decades, from international student to Senior Fellow of IEAA, I have long been a passionate member of the international education community, though the start of my career was somewhat accidental. When I first got to Melbourne from Malaysia to study, I volunteered with the RMIT Association of International Students (RAIS). I was the Publicity Officer in my first year of study, President the next. This experience connected me with mentors, the sector and the people within it, which quickly deepened my passion for the people I was working with and for. My first full-time job was as an International Student Advisor, then as an Education Abroad Advisor before making my move to the City of Melbourne where I got to build the international education portfolio from scratch and grow it. So although I never planned to work in this sector, my foundations were built from all the volunteering I did as an international student leader and the first few professional roles which followed soon after. For years, we talked about the lack of accreditation for professionals in the international education sector, as there’s no specific ‘qualification’ that one can attain to work in this field. The IEAA Fellowship is the much needed recognition for us to establish our accomplishments, development and engagement; and serves as a platform for us to demonstrate our commitment to the sector we respect and adore. The Fellowship has helped me focus on my career growth, encouraged me to partake in professional development workshops, join committees and working groups, and by doing these, to continue to expand my networks which has led to many magnificent opportunities, including being engaged to work on a diversity campaign with Study Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games in 2018; and invited to be the keynote speaker for Testgrid ‘recruiting for diversity’ tour across Australia.

How has IEAA Fellowship enhanced your career?

The IEAA Fellowship provided me with aspirations to strive for. It offered benchmarks to which I could measure and manage my professional growth. It provided me the motivation to acquire and update my knowledge of the industry, volunteer for committees and projects, and pursue new opportunities that weren’t always obviously beneficial to my role. Being part of the Fellowship demonstrates my commitment to the sector, nurtures my professionalism, grows my breadth of experience from the people I meet and work with and enhances my dedication to upholding industry standards and continued learning, all which are significant to the community we serve, that being our inspiring international students.

What tips would you give to someone who is on the Fellowship journey?

There is no ‘right’ way to progress through the Fellowship journey. Whether you prefer to learn (PD workshops, online modules, webinars), present and share (conferences, workshops) or contribute (volunteer for committees, participate in industry projects and events), the Fellowship embraces the different sorts of, though all outstanding, international education professionals. In my lifetime, I have presented keynote addresses, run conferences, written papers, volunteered on committees (I'm currently a committee member for ISANA Vic/Tas), managed volunteers, attended conferences, hosted industry dinners and even choreographed a flash mob dance at AIEC (Gangnam style)! However, it’s always a good idea to seek mentors, those who share your values and definition of success. I have been blessed with many, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Gary Lee OAM

Manager, International Education, City of Melbourne