Afra Abdeen

Afra Abdeen

Sustainable Business Specialist for South East Asia and Australasia, Unilever, Sydney
Bachelor of Business (Honours) with First Class Honours
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Bachelor of Business in Marketing conjoint programmes

Business offers so many ways to make a positive impact, says AUT alumna Afra Abdeen who is now the sustainable business specialist for South East Asia and Australasia (SEAA) at Unilever.

“When I finished my AUT degree, I knew I wanted to be in the sustainability space. I love working in business as it is not unidimensional. You get to work with people to create new systems or change existing processes.

“I’ve always been especially interested in social enterprise and the concept of sustainable business. I can speak the language of a corporate and social entrepreneur, so I wanted a role where I could work with corporate business to achieve the goals of social enterprise and change business as usual.”

Creating new opportunities
Now working in Unilever’s Sydney office, Afra has certainly achieved her goal.

“Unilever is known for working to change the way business is done through the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. That means they seek to keep people and the planet at the heart of everything in an effort to deliver responsible business growth.”

Attracted by the company’s commitment to sustainability, Afra joined Unilever in 2015 as part of its graduate programme.

“For me, it was a great opportunity to learn the business in a safe environment and be exposed to a company so committed to sustainability. As part of the graduate programme, I was placed in different parts of the business, including working in the Sustainable Business Team for SEAA. I was based in Sydney, shuttling back and forth to Singapore for seven months.

“When this placement ended, Unilever Singapore offered me a permanent role as the team could see that I was passionate about sustainability and had the capability through the exposure provided by the graduate programme to help the region achieve its sustainable business agenda.”

The confidence to succeed
Her experience at AUT has given her the confidence that anchors her, Afra says.

“I had access to so many opportunities that were not limited to studies during my time at AUT. Being involved in student organisations put me in front of great mentors and was an invaluable experience. I had so many opportunities to apply my knowledge to real-life situations, through my final-year workplace experience and other internship opportunities.”

AUT was the right place for her, says Afra who was the student speaker at her graduation in 2014.

“The people are what stood out for me most. I had inspiring lecturers and met so many incredible people who are still my friends and mentors today. I loved having easy access to lecturers and the AUT community if I ever had a question or felt like I needed help. That was amazing.”