Coming full circle: ABCN alumnus now working at ABCN member company

Joe Yakoub, ABCN alumnus and EY employee
Joe Yakoub (third from left), ABCN alumnus and EY employee

Among the 1,384 EY staff who volunteered to work with ABCN schools on EY Care Day in November last year, one employee stood out. During a working bee at Seven Hills High School, Joe Yakoub revealed that he was an ABCN alumnus. This is his story.

As a student at Tempe High School a decade ago, Joe had an interest in business early on. But it was his participation in GOALS in Year 9 that helped a far-off dream become a reality. Fast forward to present day, and Joe is now working as a Senior Consultant at one of ABCN’s member companies, EY.

‘The mentoring program really helped give me direction and greater insight into what I needed to do to get there,’ Joe recalls. ‘It also gave me a greater level of confidence and helped me come out of my shell, particularly when it came to interacting with others.’

He says he was surprised to find the corporate volunteers so approachable and down-to-earth, despite many of them being very accomplished.

‘As a student in high school, I had this expectation that people in that position would be somewhat unapproachable and wouldn’t have the time or patience to deal with high school students like myself. But from the very first session, it was very clear that this fear was unfounded.’

Joe says he still remembers his mentor, Andrew Varasdi, with whom he was paired for the multi-session program. He also remembers the key strategies he learnt, especially how to set realistic and achievable goals, which got him through the HSC and university, and are still helpful today.

As part of the GOALS program, mentoring sessions were coupled with excursions, some of which were industry-based. Joe recalls one trip to the Sydney suburb of Chullora to tour Fairfax’s printing facilities. ‘I found this to be an incredible opportunity to get a taste of corporate life,’ he says.

That early appetite now fulfilled, Joe’s current job is a diverse one within EY’s employment taxes practice. ‘It gives me the opportunity to work with a whole range of Australian and international businesses, including many household names, non-profit organisations and government,’ Joe says.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the decision by some states to cancel gatherings and school excursions, we are working closely with our school and business partners on ways to best support students safely in these uncertain times. We are assessing the potential for additional digital programs and thinking quickly about adapting what we learnt from our successful digital GOALS pilot last year.

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