Quintessential Career Profile of Simon Malian
Intergenerational adviser climbs success ladder and establishes charitable foundation at an early age
by Simon Malian as told to Katharine Hansen
Not many 21-year-olds have established charitable foundations, but Simon Malian of Sydney, Australia, founded the Malian Foundation, which, he says, “has allowed me to make a beneficial contribution to the operation of charitable causes worldwide.”
Malian explains that the foundation “provides products and services catering to the needs of charitable causes worldwide via its two programs, the Empowering Communities Program and the Consulting Services Program, both of which are offered without charge.”
“Over a number of years,” Malian notes, “we successfully established partner offices around the world and have helped a significant number of our clients provide better assistance to their constituents. The foundation’s work led the World Association for Non-Government Organisations, the leading independent body for non-profit organizations, to award the foundation senior membership status, which is a highly esteemed designation designed to recognize non-profit organizations having a significant and positive impact on the international community.”
Malian’s “day job” is as the Westpac Group chief information officer’s intergenerational adviser, his appointment to which Malian considers as the “luckiest break” in his young career. “The role has allowed me to meet a vast variety of corporate executives and learn from them. I believe in the saying that luck is preparation meeting opportunity,” he says.
Malian, who wanted to work with computers since childhood. recalls that the turning point in his career was his initial placement within Westpac’s investment banking arm, Westpac Institutional Bank. “I developed a system called smsNotify,” Malian explains, “which made the foreign currency exchange process more reliable. The system was later recognised within the Australian Information Industry Association’s Awards, which recognizes innovative products developed by Australian companies. The experience made me realize that I quite enjoyed working at Westpac; thus, I decided to accept a full-time position at the end of my placement,” he notes.
Three factors have contributed to Malian’s career success, he asserts:
- A long-term mindset “rather than focusing on the path that happens to have the most desirable immediate benefit. For example, the best job is not the one that simply offers the highest salary but the one that will give you the skills and exposure you need to move forward within your career.”
- Willingness to embrace change. “If you do not change, you will not grow. If you do not grow, you will not make it very far in your career.”
- A positive can-do spirit. “A person in a managerial role will often promote and offer special opportunities to an employee who get results and whom he or she happens to like.”
Looking at the future, Malian plans to pursue further education and function “in a capacity that I find fulfilling.”
“I see myself in a role where I can make the greatest contribution for the privileges I have been endowed with,” Malian says. “I do not intend on being unnecessarily rigid as I believe being too focused on obtaining a particular role could prevent me from taking a role that might be more suited to me but not appear so on an initial glance.”
Malian offers two pieces of advice to young people just starting out in their careers:
- Find a mentor. “A mentor is someone who is genuinely caring and trustworthy to whom you can talk to about your career, bounce ideas off and set you back on track if you start going off on an ill-considered tangent. Ideally, your mentor should be someone who is more experienced than you and a person whom you admire.” [Editor’s note: See our article, The Value of a Mentor].
- Approach your career as an “owner” rather than a “renter.” “Owner and renter may appear as strange labels, but they effectively describe a set of personal behaviors that are apparent among people. The classic example to contrast the two behaviors is that of a person renting a car during a holiday. The person notices one of the warning indicators within the instrument cluster alerting him/her to a fault within the car. A renter will simply drive the car until it breaks down under the belief ‘it is not my problem as I do not own the car.’ In contrast, an owner would have driven the car straight to the nearest repair garage. The renter takes little personal responsibility and only complains about how things can be better without specifying how, while the owner owns problems, seeks practical solutions to those problems, and implements those solutions.”
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