Date posted: 18/01/2018 6 min read

Where to learn in 2018 - Five amazing global destinations

Why Boston, Helsinki, Bath, Rome and Singapore are perfect education and learning locations for business professionals.

In Brief

  • Professional development is now more flexible and global than ever before.
  • Work and/or study abroad can broaden horizons and build networks.
  • This article highlights five global locations recommended by accountants and other business leaders.

Continuous learning has become vital for accountants and other professionals, according to recent thought leadership papers by Chartered Accountants ANZ. Extended life expectancy in the West means most careers will span five or more decades, with professionals constantly learning and upskilling to keep pace with technological, cultural and economic change.

There are no boundaries for where and how you learn. Globalisation has made it easier than ever to work and/or study abroad. If you are a chartered accountant, then you already hold a qualification that is widely recognised and respected around the world. Members of Chartered Accountants ANZ currently work in more than 130 countries worldwide. If you are considering studying and/or working abroad, here are five global cities to put on your shortlist.

Related: The Future of Talent

Read the new Chartered Accountants ANZ report that explains how work practices and professional education are changing.

1. Bath

When it comes to working and studying abroad, thousands of Australians and New Zealanders follow the well-worn path to London – but relatively few look elsewhere in the UK. The Roman city of Bath is just 90 minutes by train from London and it’s an incredible place of history, culture and learning. The University of Bath and Bath Spa University both offer postgraduate courses in business and finance. 

“My first sabbatical was in Bath and I took my family,” says James Guthrie FCA, former head of academic relations at Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand. “It was my first leap forward in my academic career, doing research, meeting senior colleagues and building a network. The UK is a great destination for overseas professional development. Aussies and Kiwis will find a familiar culture and shared language, which makes the transition easier for children. Fully-furnished short-term lets are common in the UK, which is ideal for a six or 12-month educational trip.”

2. Singapore

Singapore, the island city that is a country in its own right, is a hotbed of innovation and cutting-edge technology. It is also home to INSEAD business school, whose MBA programme was named best in the world by the Financial Times in both 2016 and 2017.

Ashlyn Rodrigues, Regional Account Manager at LinkedIn, left Sydney for Singapore two years ago. He and his wife enjoyed the experience so much that they’ve extended their stay by another two years. “In Singapore, you’re rubbing shoulders with high-achieving business people from all over the world – it’s impossible not to learn from them and be inspired,” says Rodrigues. “And because the city is a crossroads within Asia, you gain professional exposure to many different markets and cultures.”

“There are a lot of Australian and British expats here and the city is safe, clean and efficient. So it’s easy to settle, whether you’re single, a couple  or a family. And it’s economical too – salaries in Singapore are competitive, with relatively low tax compared to many other nations.”

3. Rome 

The Eternal City has long been a destination for art-lovers, gourmands and history buffs, but it’s also an ideal venue for those with a thirst for business knowledge, according to John Dumay CA, Associate Professor of Accounting and Corporate Governance at Macquarie University. Dumay has spent sabbaticals in several global destinations and Rome stands out as a highlight.

“The education institutions are second to none,” says Dumay. “I’ve been privileged to work with two Roman universities – Roma Tre and La Sapienza – and the standard of their work is excellent.”

Dumay’s advice is: When in Rome, do as the Romans do. “On sabbatical in Rome, I eat like a local, I enjoy the local wine, and I go to local places to hang out. Education experiences overseas really open your eyes to the way the rest of the world lives and learns. Do it with an open mind and enjoy the experience.”

4. Boston

There is only one city in the world where two universities rank in the top 10 in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018. That city is Boston; home of Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “It’s the perfect place to refresh, learn and gain new perspectives from excellent academics and high-calibre students,” says Peter Graham.

Graham is a former c-suite executive with Fairfax, Pacific Power and the University of New South Wales. “I was fortunate to spend 14 weeks in a residential executive program at Harvard Business School in the 1990s. The experience was instrumental in developing the ideas, skills and knowledge that have guided my career ever since,” he says.

Graham and his wife have returned to Boston a number of times for reunions and short courses, continuing to be inspired each time. “It is a modern city with a wonderful history, steeped in the development of new ideas, independence and democracy. Boston is also a beautiful place to roam, relax and enjoy the arts, sporting institutions and world-class food.”

5. Helsinki

Finland’s capital was named the world’s most liveable city by Monocle magazine in 2011, while the Economist ranked it in the top 10 in 2016. It’s easy to see why. Nestled amongst Baltic bays and inlets, within easy reach of stunning natural wonders, Helsinki is famed for its stunning contemporary architecture and design scene. 

“English is widely spoken by the Finns, which makes it easy for Australians to get on there,” says Peter Case, Professor of Management and Organisation Studies at Townsville’s James Cook University.

Case has worked all over the world and Helsinki stands out as an unmissable location for him. “As a destination for economics and business education, it is absolutely outstanding. Aalto University, for example, was created from three institutions from different disciplines, and it’s become a melting pot of science, art, and business. They are doing incredibly creative things with entrepreneurship there.”

Andy McLean is a writer and content marketing consultant.