Embracing Change and Taking Action: Insights from Aaron Ngan’s Career Journey

by May 29, 2023

When studying, it’s easy to worry about what’s coming next. What happens after you graduate? Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? With so many possibilities and uncertainties, you could be feeling overwhelmed or stressed about your future career.

We recently talked to Aaron Ngan from UTS Startups. Aaron has had a diverse career dedicated to helping others discover and develop their own skills in leadership, communication, and entrepreneurship.

In this interview, Aaron shares his insights on how he has built his career by saying “yes” to opportunities and embracing change. He also discusses the importance of taking action and not being afraid to try new things, even if they don’t work out.

If you want to take your career to the next level, read on to learn more about Aaron’s journey and what he’s learnt.

It’s great talking to you, Aaron. First, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself? What did you study, and what are you doing now?

I studied a Bachelor of Business at UTS which I started in 2009 and finally completed in 2017. Those studies weren’t a straight path, I spent a year in the Air Force in 2010, so 2011 was my second year of uni. Once I returned from my RAAF experience I threw myself straight in and worked a variety of different jobs, as Student Ambassador for the Business School, with UTS Careers on two separate occasions, and as head of operations for a small company called 3 Minute Angels. Since returning to complete my studies and to work at UTS, I’ve been running entrepreneurial workshops and developing my skills as a workshop facilitators among many things!

I now run the entrepreneurship inspiration program at UTS Startups where I coordinate student workshops, high school programs, and everything involved with inspiring students at UTS and in High School to be inspired to pursue entrepreneurship. Recently we have been developing our high school program to reach 10,000 high school students a year, a large scale event with over 5,000 school students at an entrepreneurship mega-event, and on the side I’m also a paid public speaking coach.

That sounds really rewarding. Did you expect to find yourself doing what you’re doing now when you were studying?

Not when I started. In my first year I didn’t get very involved, I went through the motions. Coming back from my year in the Air Force I got really good at putting my hand up for things. Probably in my third or fourth year, I set out my clearest big goal, that in five years’ time I wanted to be running my own organization, doing training for leadership and communication skills. Five years later, I looked back and realized, hey, I did that.

But figuring that out was retrospective, and I definitely didn’t plan it. I was just doing what I was doing. A lot of things were on a theme of what I was passionate about, but it was only afterwards that I realized the connection. Looking back, what made the biggest difference was getting into action and actually doing things.

When you’re at uni, it’s so easy to be trapped by feeling like you need to understand something before you do it. We think, ‘I need to understand this first. What if something goes wrong? What if it doesn’t work out? What if this isn’t for me?

But not knowing has a lot of power. When you try something, anything at all, you discover things about yourself you’d never have thought possible, and even if what you discover is that you don’t actually like doing something, that’s a win as well.

Yes, there is power in knowing what you don’t want and what you do. It seems like you have been able to stay flexible throughout your career. How have you tried to embrace change over time?

From early on, I decided that I wanted to run my own business, so I always looked for opportunities that would help me with that goal. I would ask myself, “Will it make that happen? Will it teach me more skills?” With that in mind, I said yes very very quickly to a range of opportunities. I took on my first job with UTS Careers within 30 min of hearing about it and started the next week, I picked back up an old job after having lunch with an old manager and got started the next day. Even if these were sometimes sideways steps, I was comfortable making quick decisions because I knew they would help build my skills and because I always asked for enough flexibility to do my projects and run my business alongside.

That’s really interesting. Have there ever been experiences that haven’t worked out?

Yes, there were some opportunities that I said yes to that probably weren’t the best, or that I stayed in for too long. I got comfortable and stuck in roles where I felt like I was just working for the sake of it. There were also some opportunities that popped up when I wasn’t doing much, and in hindsight, they were clearly unrelated to my goals.

That makes sense. Not everything has been perfect, but you still grow through the changes. How have you balanced flexibility with striving to achieve goals in your career?

Recently, everything I’ve been doing has been directly involved in what I’m interested in and what my professional goals are: helping as many people as possible with their communication skills and ability to relate to each other. At UTS Startups, that started with building a program that lets me have a direct impact on students through the UTS Startups @ School program that also involved coaching over 420 startups on public speaking skills. Now, I’m responsible for outreach for UTS Startups to every student at UTS so the scale has increased. How my work is structured allows me to take the time to run other workshops when I get them and everything is aligned on my goals to make an impact.

Before we wrap up, if you could speak to your university self, what kind of advice would you give them?

I would say that everything’s going to be okay. Don’t worry about figuring out the right thing to do. Just get started and stop wasting time trying to get it perfect.

I love that. Simple, but so helpful. Finally, you’ve been at UTS for a little while now, so you’re familiar with the campus. If you could pick one UTS building to represent you, which would it be?

Definitely the UTS Startups space on the corner of building three on Broadway. It’s high-profile and exciting, but inside, it’s held together by duct tape and imagination. There’s still so much room to grow.


It was great to catch up with Aaron and hear about his diverse career journey. His career journey shows the importance of taking action and being open to change. By prioritizing his goals and interests, he created a fulfilling career that allows him to help others while pursuing his own professional aspirations. His advice to his university self is valuable for anyone starting their career – to simply get started doing stuff without worrying too much about figuring out the right thing to do. By being flexible and embracing change, we can continue to grow both professionally and personally.

You can reach out to Aaron any time via LinkedIn. Interested in joining UTS Startups? Find out more.


Cover photo courtesy of Bose Creative

Amelia Bussing

Amelia Bussing

Communications Assistant

Amelia is a Sydney-based writing and communications enthusiast working at UTS Careers as a Communications Assistant. She is a UTS alumni who studied a Bachelor of Communications (Creative Writing & Advertising), and a Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation, and graduated in 2023.