Ms Jessica Kane (pictured, top) completed her degree in 2021 and graduated with a Master of Commerce (majoring in Human Resource Management and Corporate Communication) in the School of Business at the 2022 ceremony in Wagga Wagga on Friday 20 May.
“Given the turbulent environment we have all been living in for the past three years, being able to actually have and attend a graduation ceremony is so exciting,” Jessica said.
“COVID-19 has robbed many of us of the opportunity to celebrate major milestones and I feel like I can speak on behalf of all graduates in saying how nice it is to feel like we are returning to some normalcy and to be able to celebrate what has been a lot of hard work and a pivotal part of all of our lives.”
Jessica previously completed a Bachelor of Business (Management) at Charles Sturt and graduated in 2018. While later studying her master’s degree she won two Deans Awards.
“One of my proudest accomplishments is graduating with Distinction as this is a goal I set myself after only being a few points shy on my grade point average (GPA) for my bachelor’s degree,” she said.
“I have always been very passionate about learning and have always believed that the most empowering thing we can do for ourselves, is to constantly be open to learning opportunities.”
However, when graduating from Billabong High School in 2015 Jessica wasn’t sure what career path she wanted to take.
“I settled on a bachelor’s in business because having grown up surrounded by my extended family who were operating a family business, I quickly appreciated the flexibility and opportunities that a business degree could give me,” she said.
Jessica is now Administration Manager of the family business, Kanes’ Buses Pty Ltd based in Henty in southern NSW.
“During my six years of study there was one pivotal moment which has shaped the course of my studies and career,” Jessica said.
“About halfway through my bachelor’s degree, I was in conversation with an acquaintance about my studies when the topic turned to family businesses.
“Having not been aware of my background and the fact that my family had for the better part of half a century been operating a school bus and charter service business, the acquaintance declared quite callously that they believed family businesses all eventually need to die and that the best thing for small communities is for them to be bought out by bigger companies.
“While I never said anything to the individual at the time, I felt so passionately that this statement was not true, and I felt a genuine desire to prove them wrong.”
Jessica (pictured left with her family) said she had witnessed and heard so many stories about the legacy that her grandparents built over 50 years ago, a legacy which her father and uncles had greatly built upon in later years and the way in which a small family business in Henty had grown to benefit individuals in the rural and regional communities that make up the Greater Hume Shire.
“At the time I had been working only a few hours a week at the business to pay my way through university, but from this point onwards I found a growing interest in the family business and a desire to learn as much as I could in the hope that one day, I too could play a role in continuing my grandparent’s legacy,” she said.
“My hours and work within the business continued to grow throughout my first and second degrees, with me eventually working a full-time role as an Administration Manager.”
This work has complemented her studies nicely as it gave her a practical landscape to apply her learnings to, and the opportunity to complete many of her placements and projects using the business as a case study.
“This was one of the many things I have appreciated about Charles Sturt University and its learning platform, the way it so seamlessly was able to fit into my day-to-day, especially in choosing to complete my studies by distance,” she said.
Jessica said she finds it is quite an amazing evolution that she is now working on complex technical systems that she played a role in integrating, to complete work that her grandparents once did using a pen and paper.
“I am forever grateful to my father and uncles for being so open and supportive in allowing me to undertake different projects and make changes to different systems throughout my six years of study and now full-time work in the business that is Kanes’ Buses,” she said.
One of the hardest moments during Jessica’s master’s degree came halfway through her last semester when her grandmother passed away, 10 days after a terminal cancer diagnosis.
“I am deeply saddened that both she and my grandpa, who passed nine years prior, aren’t alive to see me graduate, but I feel a lot of pride and motivation each day as I walk into work and think about how I am able to play a part in continuing their legacy,” Jessica said.
“It may sound silly, but buses have been in my blood all along, and while when I first left school, I was unsure of what I wanted to do, I am confident that with the opportunities that my family and my studies have given me, I have found my place in what is an incredibly interesting and exciting industry.”
Jessica said the transport industry is forever changing, and she is confident that her Master of Commerce degree has placed her well to be a strong female voice in a male-dominated industry.
“The transport industry is going to continue to evolve and faces challenges such as increased regulation, increased integration with technology, and also the pressure to transition to provide more sustainable transport solutions, and I am excited to use my learnings to help address them,” she said.
“Ultimately, I am passionate about people, and that passion has led me to major in human resources management.
“Many of my lecturers through my studies have inspired in me a strong interest in employee issues and the roles that businesses can play in best supporting their staff to create a workspace that promotes performance in the midst of what has become a very turbulent and forever changing business environment.”
Jessica believes the most powerful thing she can do with what she has learnt is to help others, and that is what she intends to do.
“Rural and regional communities face so many challenges, particularly in terms of accessibility and the impact that their remoteness can have in connecting individuals to opportunities as well as basic necessity items,” she said.
“The luxuries which so many metropolitan areas have in relation to their public transport systems do not extend to these rural and regional areas.
“I hope to play whatever role I can in helping to improve or remove some of these barriers for our own communities in the public transport space.”