Hard work the key for Valedictorian

14 Dec 2018

Life is all about perseverance, discipline and balance for Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology Valedictorian, Khoi Phan.

He managed to study his Bachelor of Engineering full time, won a string of academic awards,  maintained a high GPA while also running a successful software start-up, Modulr Tech.

But Khoi admits it took a lot of juggling.

“It was definitely not easy,” he said.

“If you want a more relaxing lifestyle, I would not recommend this path.

“However, for someone who is up for challenges and thrives under pressure like myself, striving for both academic and business success really gave me a push in the right direction, and what I learnt at UQ also helped my work in Modulr Tech.”

The inspiration to study engineering came from his father, who graduated as an electrical engineer.

“Ever since I was young, he has been able to teach me a lot about how different things work,” Khoi said.

“I have always been fascinated by his wealth of knowledge and decided that engineering would be the pathway that allows me to grow my knowledge as my father did.”

Khoi chose UQ after an online search from his home in Vietnam, lured by UQ’s global ranking, Queensland’s climate and the University’s wealth of opportunities and range of clubs and societies.  

“What I love most about UQ is that it provides students with a constant stream of opportunities,” he said.

“I never had to look further than the services and opportunities offered to find something that could help develop either myself or my career.”

One of the opportunities Khoi seized was public speaking, a necessity for someone starting a business.

“I still remember the first pitch I ever delivered, where I did lots of research and practised my script for hours for a mere one-and-a-half-minute pitch.

“My heart was thumping like crazy when I walked on stage, but thanks to my practice, my voice and my body just started to go into autopilot mode once I started.

“Since then I have done a lot of public speaking at many occasions, from university-related activities to start-up events and industry conferences.”

He still harbours one as-yet-unfulfilled ambition – to speak at a TED conference – but for now will focus entirely on his company.

Modulr Tech builds data and software solutions for mining and resources companies and already has large corporations and government bodies among its clients.

The business went through a start-up program, Unearthed Accelerator, and was admitted to the UQ iLab Germinate 11 program, which Khoi said was a great help.

“Next year is going to be a crazy year for us, with lots of new external projects coming together as well as a big internal project to develop a scalable product.

“I am definitely going to continue with Modulr Tech, and I won't stop until it has become a multi-million dollar company.”

He plans to keep up his connection with UQ and is honoured to be Valedictorian – a dream he never thought he would achieve when the workload seemed overwhelming.

“An important lesson I have learnt is that motivation is overrated and that discipline is key to achieving any goal in life.

“Achieving the Valedictorian status really shows that the decision to work hard on both my studies and my business was the right one.”

Media: Khoi Phan, khoi@modulrtech.com; UQ Communications, communications@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 1120.