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Campus News : July 2010
graduates of our university... Alumni www.uow.edu.au University of Wollongong Campus News July 2010 7 20 years on, Paul's paying back Paul Oppenheim Bachelor of Commerce (Accountancy and Business Systems Analysis) 1990 Two decades after graduating from the University of Wollongong, Paul Oppenheim is using his professional experience to make a significant contribution to the institution that helped launch his life and career in Australia. Paul has been appointed to the Advisory Council of UOW's SMART Infrastructure Facility, a $61 million infrastructure research and training centre nearing completion at the Wollongong campus. The SMART Advisory Council, under the chairmanship of former NSW Premier Nick Greiner, is made up of key academic, industry and government experts who work in the infrastructure field. As Managing Director of Plenary Group -- a social infrastructure group with major projects in Australia and North America -- Paul is well qualified for the post, and pleased to be contributing to his old university. "Once established, I anticipate SMART will become the pre-eminent provider of independent analysis, research and policy development for Australia's infrastructure industry," Paul said. Born in Zimbabwe, Paul moved to Australia in 1988 to study. Having attended Plumtree, a famous but remote boarding school for boys on the Zimbabwe-Botswana border 100km from Bulawayo, Paul says he chose to study in Wollongong "because it seemed less High above Sydney in Centrepoint's Sky Tower lounge, more than 100 guests attended UOW's first Australia--China Alumni evening in March to celebrate the diverse relationship between the two countries. Chinese graduates are UOW's largest international alumni group in the Sydney and Illawarra regions with over 4000 members. The networking event was a chance for graduates to celebrate the education, research and business links between China and Australia. Mr Yu Yu from the People's Republic of China's Consulate-General in Sydney joined UOW Vice- Chancellor Professor Gerard Sutton, Deputy Vice- Chancellor (Academic) Professor Rob Castle and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International) Professor Joe Chicharo at the event. Professor Sutton opened the evening by highlighting the importance of the Alumni Network at UOW. He said the network, which now has over 88,000 graduate members, aims to be a mutually beneficial relationship between the University and alumni by providing ongoing guidance and professional development. Faculty of Commerce graduate Laura Fu said alumni events helped her to stay in touch with what's happening at UOW. "These events are so interesting for UOW alumni like me," she said. "This is a chance to mingle with my fellow alumni. I can talk to the Vice-Chancellor and other dignitaries to hear about developments and changes at the University." During the evening, Mr Yu spoke about the growing trade relationship between NSW and China. Telecommunications company Huawei Australia's Government and Industry Relations Director Mr Charlie Cheng also spoke at the function, focusing on the massive growth Huawei Australia has experienced in the past five years. KM intimidating than Sydney when I moved to Australia". He was also attracted by the practical features of UOW's Commerce degree "and I liked the idea of being able to combine IT and Accounting". He certainly has no regrets about his choice. "My degree was the essential launch pad for my career," he said. "It gave me a solid academic foundation in finance and allowed me to progress to further study (Chartered Accounting and a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance)." He also enjoyed his involvement with the UOW rugby union club (with the 20 cent glasses of home-brewed beer after training a particularly fond memory). Paul was recruited straight from university by global accounting giants KPMG, but managed to persuade the firm to defer his appointment for a year so he could go back-packing through Europe. On his return he settled into corporate life in Sydney, spending 31/2 years at KPMG where he qualified as a Chartered Accountant before moving to Barclays de Zoete Wedd (BZW) as an internal auditor. "My goal was to become an investment banker and I was given that opportunity by moving to Melbourne on an internal transfer," he said. BZW was then sold to ABN AMRO where Paul helped develop a successful infrastructure franchise. "In 2004 I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to start a new business with a small group of fellow ABN AMRO staff," Paul said. The new business, Plenary Group, was established with the assistance of Deutsche Bank to focus on social infrastructure and Paul has been Managing Director since its inception. The company has grown to nearly 100 people with offices in Australia, Canada and Singapore. Its projects include major public buildings such as hospitals and law courts, convention centres, military housing and roads and bridges. Paul is married with four children. "There's no doubt moving to Australia to go to university was one of the smartest things I ever did," he said. NH Paul Oppenheim China, Australia relationship celebrated Pictured at the Australia-China Alumni function at Sydney's Centrepoint Tower (from left): Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerard Sutton, People's Republic of China Consulate-General representative Mr Yu Yu, Hauwei Director Mr Charlie Cheng and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International) Professor Joe Chicharo.