Dominic Soh – Successful International Students and What Drives Them Forward

With the Future Founders Festival coming in July, we’re bringing our favorite Q&A with the event’s speakers.

Our third speaker has tanked over 500 rejections letter and endured what many of us are experiencing right now: trying to get a leg in our career.

That’s why we can’t have anyone more qualified than Dominic Soh. From publishing a career magazine, delivering a TEDx talk, and has spoken at Tesla, Intel amongst many more, he inspires international students to be resilient from his own journey.


Q1: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I came to Melbourne in 2011 as an international student after finishing my mechanical engineering degree in Singapore. Prior to that, I did my industry placement in Motorola and worked in the compliance department of a Swiss bank.

After finishing my postgrad studies here, I really struggled to find work. I was rejected by employers 526 times over 1.5 years before landing a role as a business and management trainer.

But what helped me really stand out from the crowd was when I started a careers magazine with a friend, because we both knew that there were many out there struggling to find work. Within 6 months, we managed to reach around 3000-4000 students in 6 Victorian universities and I had the chance to deliver career workshops in two universities.

This kickstarted my passion for people development. For the past 5 years, while holding a day job, I was running my training and speaking practice which saw me speaking on the TEDx stages, travelling around the world to present and delivering training to reputable clients like Google, Intel, VW, Tesla, New York University to name a few.
And I’m only getting started!


Q2: Tell us what’s the most enjoyable part of what you do!

I just started my role at Datarati as Head of People and Culture, while maintaining my speaking practice on the side.

What I love about the things that I do is that I get the fantastic opportunity to empower others and help people become their best selves.

Whether it’s through a professional development workshop in helping staff better manage change and restructuring, a group mentoring session to help ambitious professionals be equipped for the new world of work, or a one-on-one career coaching session that helped individuals secure their dream jobs 10x faster (like in 10 days or less), it’s definitely a delight and privilege to be able to partner with many on their success journeys.


Q3: Do you think International Students have tougher barriers to break in Australia?

Yes, speaking from my experience as a former international student.

The challenges are not limited to communication barriers, culture shock, visa issues, working rights, understanding the local labour market and Australian working culture, homesickness, isolation, existing biases from employers, immense competition against locals, financial challenges as well as other stresses.


Q4: Google dictionary states that an entrepreneur is: “a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.” Do you agree?

I do agree with that, but another definition of entrepreneurship I came across is: The creation or extraction of value.

Yes, it’s true that entrepreneurship involves embracing risk and having skin in the game, in order to generate returns from the commercial undertaking. If you don’t make money, you don’t have a business, you have a hobby.

On the other hand, entrepreneurship can also be seen as a way of thinking, a way of working and a way of life.

Because if you can’t find opportunities in your domain yet, entrepreneurship is a skill that could help you create those opportunities.


Q5: What’s your personal challenge when you first start your venture?

There were a number of challenges and some notable ones were lack of confidence, fear of failure, fear of what others might think, fear of rejection, imposter syndrome.


Q6: How do you keep driving yourself towards your career goals when an unexpected life event happens?

Remind yourself of the bigger picture – your purpose, your mission, your WHY. Because if your WHY is big enough, the HOW and the WHAT would usually take care of themselves. I do tell myself that whether I’m playing it big or small, it’s going to be tough anyway – so might as well go big.

Get a coach or mentor. Having a role model is a lifehack that could help you leapfrog in your life and career. They can share mistakes so that you don’t make them, point out your blind spots and hold you accountable to your goals.

Embrace change. Change is the only constant. Develop a healthy view and relationship towards change, disruption, ambiguity, uncertainty and adversity. Learn how to use them to make you better, not bitter.


Q7: What do you think of the proverbial “half empty-half full?”

Cute. Adorable. Too mainstream for me.

I’d rather you be opportunistic. If you see the cup, you can grab it and drink from it. Or learn how to replicate it and sell on scale.


Q8: What three pieces of advice can you give for starting entrepreneurs

Execute. Take action. Apply what you have learnt. Translate your intentions into action. Ideas are cheap. Nothing happens until you put yourself in the ring and start to make things happen. If you think you’re an entrepreneur, show me what you’ve done. If not, you’re just a wantrepreneur.

Develop resilience and pain tolerance. It’s going to be real tough and many people out there (who aren’t enterprising) would tell you to just take it easy and follow the crowd. When you pitch to prospects, you’ve got to develop thick skin to embrace failure, rejection and ridicule.

Cultivate meaningful relationships. Many will try to give you advice, but only listen to those who have skin in the game, have done it themselves and have gotten desirable results. If not, just hear them out and move on. Find mentors and role models who are successful in exactly what you’re trying to do.

Remember that most of the challenges you face in life (as well as in your entrepreneurial endeavors) are less technical, less technological but more psychological.


Q9: What are you looking forward to at the Future Founders Festival? And what ideas to you hope to come from the participants.

Definitely to meet with emerging and ambitious entrepreneurs – who could be students, graduates, working professionals, leaders or executives – and not just sharing my story and experiences with them, but also to learn from them.

I look forward to participants asking real questions and having real talk – like the uncensored and brutal truth of entrepreneurship. Not questions which are vanilla, politically correct or which have answers you can find online. I want us all to get real because while entrepreneurship is exciting and promising, it can also be tough and challenging.

Looking forward to a great event and to seeing you there!


Are you inspired yet? Don’t miss out the Future Founder Festival happening online from 15 to 16th of July now.

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