Q&A with Joe Bryant, Director at Aeromech and MBA alumnus

Why Joe chose the UQ MBA and how it prepared him for the next step in his career


Joe Bryant, Director at aerospace engineering and professional services company Aeromech, has wanted to work in the aviation sector since he was a child. Joe explains why completing a UQ MBA was instrumental to him founding his business in 2019, how he juggled study, work and family, and the experiences he gained during the program that make him proud to be an alumnus.

joe bryant mba alumni

Why did you decide to study an MBA?

Giving back to the community was always a key driver to my starting the MBA. Prior to that time, my wife Deanna and I felt we didn’t have the business acumen, knowledge or network to positively contribute to and support our community in the way we wanted. Whether that was through providing professional services, supporting charities, or setting up our own scholarships for various educational institutes.

The UQ MBA has given me the knowledge to better understand the world of leadership, management and business. It also gave me the confidence to discuss these concepts with other more experienced professionals, fine-tune ideas, and provide solutions to complex issues. By combining the networks we have gained during our studies at The University of Queensland and Harvard University through UQ’s global exchange program, Deanna and I now have a powerful platform to share our ideas and support others in making meaningful contributions.

Why did you choose to study your MBA at UQ?

I chose the UQ MBA program for three key reasons: its reputation; its flexibility; and, its international exchange opportunities.

I studied the MBA program on a flexible timetable, which meant I had the ability to flip between doing studying in intensive blocks, part time or on a casual basis. This flexibility was important to me because it gave me the opportunity to continue to push hard with my career and support my growing family, while still having the time to learn.

The University of Queensland has such a great reputation nationally and internationally. It is one of the top eight sandstone universities in Australia and is known throughout the entire world for its excellence in research. I understand how important it was to have an MBA from a reputable university that employers recognise.

How did you balance study with work and family life?

Initially, I didn’t think it would be too difficult to fit study in to my life, but to be honest, it was challenging. In addition to working, my wife Deanna also started her MBA during this time, and we had two small children. Effective time management and good communication are key to being able to manage multiple, competing priorities.  I quickly learned to manage my time effectively, to ensure I could balance my work, family and study commitments. Using the flexibility of the UQ MBA program allowed me to make choices that worked for me and my family.     

Did your MBA lead to personal growth?

The UQ MBA has really made me grow as a person in many ways. I think knowledge is power and it's so amazing when you can take that knowledge and do something positive with it. Completing my MBA made me realise just how many things one person can do and how we can contribute back to society as a group.

How would you describe the teaching staff and learning experience?

The MBA teaching staff at UQ always created a safe and comfortable environment to learn in. The courses were well structured, integrated case studies and encouraged peer learning. 

As students, we were encouraged to bring our experiences into the classroom to share with the group, and to learn from each other.

"The teaching staff are masters at leveraging these discussions for the benefit of the students, to discuss the latest theories, journal articles and practical ways of understanding how to reach better outcomes in the future."


Did who you studied with enrich your learning experience?

I honestly believe that this is one of the best parts of the UQ MBA learning experience. I got to meet new people, network, and learn from the experiences of others. Often, my peers had experienced similar issues but in a different environment. By sharing our personal experiences, we were able to learn what worked, what didn’t work and what techniques and tools can be used to manage and lead at work.

Did your student peer connections have an impact on your career after graduation?

Absolutely. I still connect with my MBA network frequently to discuss anything from understanding concepts and implementing tools to gaining another perspective on how to lead or deal with a complex situation. The network that each UQ MBA student creates while studying continues to support them after they graduate.

Are there career benefits of doing the short-term global experience?

One of the primary reasons I chose the UQ MBA is because they had the opportunity to do an international study experience, and I believe this experience has benefitted me both personally and professionally. Going to Harvard was one of the best experiences I've ever had in my entire life. The network of people that you meet over there and the calibre of students from all around the world who come together as one is reflective of how well UQ put us in a position to be able to keep up with the rest of the world.

When I came back from America, the amount of attention I received from my colleagues about going to Harvard was astronomical. I think working with someone who has had international experience at a university like Harvard really shows the driving motivation and determination that person has to push forward and be at the forefront of what's happening in the world.

How did your MBA change your career trajectory?

Studying the MBA has had numerous, significant impacts upon my career. Early in the program, I found myself fast-tracked into more senior leadership positions, in part because of my demonstrated ability to understand and address business needs.  Later during my studies, I gained the confidence to leave a large, multinational organisation and start my own business.  Now, as an MBA graduate, I am using the skills and knowledge I gained to identify and develop business opportunities in collaboration with a diverse network of talented professionals. 

What did you learn while studying your MBA that prepared you for your next step?

Studying an MBA provides a skillset that complements technical ability in almost any profession at the management level. I would emphasise, however, that it is the richness of the UQ MBA experience that drives personal and professional growth and provides long-term benefits to alumni. 

Obtaining an MBA can provide the “foot in the door” to a more senior or better paying position, but it’s the application of the MBA skillset to make a positive impact and deliver change that leads to bigger and better opportunities in the long-term.  

That’s why it’s so important to choose a high-quality MBA and to devote yourself to getting as much from the experience as you can.  It’s this commitment and focus on the endgame that carries people through the more challenging parts of an MBA, and it’s why I chose to complete my MBA with UQ.     

Read more about Joe's story or the stories of other MBA alumni, and discover where a UQ MBA could take you.