ICMS Master's student appointed Devonport Strikers Coach

International College of Management, Sydney (ICMS) postgraduate student Suraj Pillai has been appointed as the new coach for the Devonport Strikers. He takes up his position in November, having most recently been based with the Manly United Football Club while completing an ICMS Master of Management degree.

The Devonport City Football Club, or the “Strikers”, are a soccer club based in Devonport, Tasmania, and are currently National Premier Leagues Tasmania champions. 

Pillai, originally from Mumbai, India, moved to Australia to pursue opportunities relating to a career in football coaching. The ICMS Master of Management degree offered Pillai the flexibility to study while based in Manly, where he most recently took Manly Vale to the competition's premier league through promotion this season. *

“I chose to study a Master of Management particularly at ICMS due to multiple factors, chiefly the flexibility to choose classes and the close proximity to my work place which helped me stay on the field and also be at university,” Pillai said.

The career-focused higher education institution has campuses located in Northern Beaches, Sydney, NSW, and in the city the heart of Sydney's financial district.

“I used to travel to Australia in the past to complete my coaching badges while coaching back in India and I felt this country would be the right step to take my coaching journey to the next level. During one of my previous visits to Australia, I had the opportunity to come down and have a look at Manly United Football Club and was very impressed with the quality of the players and the facilities. I asked if I would be able to find some work at the club and they were welcome to the idea. I always wanted to complete my Masters as well, so after giving it a good thought, I decided to make the move to Manly the following year.”

Industry training, a core component of every degree and course offered at ICMS, was a pull-factor for Pillai, and his work placement at Manly United Football Club complemented his course-work, while also forming the launchpad of his coaching career in Australia, the proof of which is his appointment as coach of the Devonport Strikers.

“Importantly, it was the last semester industry placement as a part of the coursework that made me choose the course at ICMS as I believe theoretical knowledge meeting practical experience even before you have a degree improves your overall outlook and gives you time to build a perspective about the industry you want to be working in which is, among other things, very helpful in a foreign country.”

He was inspired to study management further to combine his passion for football with his interest in the business aspect of the football industry.

“I was always fascinated by the business side of the game as much as the technical side of it. I started Young Guns Football Academy in India with my best friend right after graduation (in Mumbai in 2011) which focuses on delivering training to kids aged 5-14. We started with just two kids and there are currently around 200 kids across Mumbai enrolled in the program,” he said.

“Setting up the company was a complete trial-and-error, learning on the job how penetrative and skimming marketing policies work, targeting and segmenting audiences, working with economies of scale etc, all without knowing the meaning of these terms. A Masters of Management at ICMS now makes me aware about these approaches, terms and what works best in which environment. I'm glad I did this course and I would be able to apply these learnings in the future should I decide to move to the business side of the game.”

As an international student who has found his professional feet in Australia, Pillai offers encouragement and advice to international students about the benefits of embracing opportunities to thrive despite culture and sometimes even language barriers.

“For a lot of international students, myself included, studying abroad is a massive cultural shock. It involves coming to a foreign land, speaking in a foreign language, being away from family and friends, having different routines and an unfamiliar lifestyle. However, I've realised that embracing and accepting these changes makes a person vibrant and confident professionally as well as socially, which is key for personal growth and development,” he said.

“Spend time in university completing the academic courses but also work in your own field where you can interact with like-minded people with whom you can connect on an intellectual level and where your beliefs and ideas can be challenged. With Sydney being such a multicultural city, discover and explore different people and their cultures because being culturally intelligent will help immensely in empathising with people in different situations and in finding solutions for them. These qualities are helpful for any field you intend to work in. You will evolve as a person which is probably the whole point of studying in a foreign country.”

Pillai is in the process of finalising his ICMS Master of Management degree and will graduate in 2020.

For more information on Master degrees offered at ICMS, click here: https://www.icms.edu.au/view-courses?course-level=Postgraduate

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