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MBA sets stage for Cairns performer

HE’S used to taking centre stage, but Cairns musician and entertainer Tony George has a new reason to step into the spotlight at CQUniversity Cairns graduation ceremony this month. 

The lifelong performer is receiving his Master of Business Administration (Leadership) – and he says the study has been a game-changer for his busy business. 

“Since I started the degree, so many mates in the music industry have asked me, ‘why on earth are you at uni?’ – and I always answer, ‘you don’t know what you don’t know!’” he laughed. 

Mr George will cross the graduation stage on Thursday 18 April at the Cairns Convention Centre, one of 150 locals celebrating their successful studies. 

After 25 years running a business, and managing one of Far North Queensland’s most in-demand event entertainment offerings, Mr George said he began the degree looking for new ideas. 

For his first time tackling university studies, he took on Australia’s only hyperflexible, fully-online MBA in early 2020, and the decision proved timely.

“The pandemic meant huge parts of my world were falling apart, with events cancelled and tourism shut down, and what I was learning in the MBA actually mirrored what I needed to keep going,” Mr George explained. 

“It was all about leadership, and strong communication – and I was applying it as fast as I could learn it, to keep my subcontractors going, and hold the business together through COVID.”

Eight local musicians work for Tony George Entertainment, to support a busy schedule of conferences, events, and weddings. 

As events returned to Cairns post-pandemic, Mr George said the course flexibility meant he could manage the juggle – to complete the degree in just two years. 

“You can run your business, you can come home after a gig at 1am, then sit there and read through your essay, or watch the online content – having the ability to do it in my own time was perfect,” he said.

“Towards the end, the content was about the importance of reinvention in business, how social innovation can drive business and benefit society, and the need to fail fast and adapt in a constantly changing environment – so I was living all that too!”

“Nothing was the same after COVID, I feel like all my industry, and our whole community has had to change.” 

The studies have helped Mr George diversify, value-add, and hone business strategy.

He now offers conference emceeing and keynote speaking, live trivia nights, and other add-ons to the live bands and music his business already delivered.

Tony george performing at a wedding
Tony George performing at a wedding

He’s also founded a speakers bureau in Cairns to support the Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions market. 

“I’ve got the confidence to say to a client, ‘what do you need?’ – and while the music industry can be very ego driven, the course has taught me real leadership is all about engaging other people, how you network and nurture people.” 

Since launching in 2019, CQUniversity’s hyperflexible MBA (Leadership) has attracted more than 1200 students, and earned a string of teaching and student awards.

CQU Academic Lead – Leadership and Innovation Courses, Dr Anja Pabel said the innovative course meets the unique demands of mature-aged students, often juggling work and families as they look to grow their careers.

“The MBAL is now one of Australia’s largest MBA cohorts, which really shows how this course supports those priorities,” Dr Pabel said. 

The MBA (Leadership) has no set assessment submission deadlines, allowing students to self-pace the degree to complete over five years. 

Priced at $20,664 with pay-as-you-go and FEE-Help options, CQUniversity is proud that this quality MBA is nothing like other MBAs.

Explore the Master of Business (Leadership) on CQU’s website, for more information and to enrol and get started now.

Keep up with the latest news in Cairns and the Far North, and check out some of our top stories this week: First Nations higher education forum in Cairns and Pottery discovery rewrites Aboriginal history.

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