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Living on the EDGE: Tuan Cuong Bui

Fiona Ren

Mon Feb 13 2012

Cuong Bui

WHEN businesses make a difference in unexpected ways – a bridge built by an Australian company in a small town called Vinh Long was the inspiration behind Vietnamese international student Cuong Tuan Bui’s decision to study civil engineering in Melbourne.

What’s your name, and how old are you?

My full name is Cuong Tuan Bui and I am 24-years-old, but you can call me Bui if you like.

Every Vietnamese name has its own meaning which parents wish for their children, and I personally think my name has all the characteristics which best describe me right now.

Cuong in Vietnamese means strong, Tuan is handsome and Bui, my last name means sweet. I am a strong and determined person, but there’s also a sweet and romantic side of me.

Where are you from? Where and what course or program are you doing?

I am Vietnamese and I am studying a Bachelor of Civil Engineering at Swinburne University of Technology.

Why did you choose to come to Melbourne?

I come from a small town called Vinh Long, which is located in the south west of Vietnam and in the Mekong Delta. An Australian engineering company had helped us to build the biggest cable bridge ever named My Thuan Bridge. That bridge is just five kilometres from my house. Whenever I see this bridge, I think one day I will be involved in something big like this and I think Australia will help me to reach my dream. That is why I am here now.

What got you into the EDGE program?

Well, I think I got into the EDGE program after hearing about the program through the university, and and I thought well, why not try to go for it?

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership is the ability to lead with authority while still earning respect from others. Leaders think big and outside the box, and are able to take risks and manage risks. A good leader also brings enthusiasm and endless energy to his team, and makes decision quickly and accurately.

What or who do you draw inspiration from, and why?

My father. He told me this when I was a kid and that sentence is still rings my mind now: “Whatever you do, if you want to earn respect from others, you need to be a leader”.

If you could champion one cause for international students in Melbourne, what would it be?

I think international students should get equal chances as local students. When companies advertise jobs, it usually comes with the prerequisite: “you must be a citizen or permanent resident to apply for this position”.

I do understand the risks of employing an international student graduate, considering they can go back to their home country at any time, the investments required to train, and the complicated process of having to sponsor an employee, with different kinds of documents, formalities and so on.

However, I don’t agree with these reasons to some extent. Whenever you do business, you have to take risks. There are a lot of international students out there who want to stay in an Australian company and work for them. They are dynamic, intelligent and can actually help enrich make a company’s culture.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I usually read news and books, hang out with my friends and try to expand my network. I also play soccer and other team sports. They make me feel excited about life and also refresh me after a hard week.

What are your other talents/hobbies outside the classroom?

I love cooking different kinds of food. We usually have a party after exams or during holiday time, and it’s when I get to show off my skills.

Where is your favourite spot to hang out in Melbourne?

I like to walk along the Yarra River.

If I had a million dollars I would…. definitely invest in business. I like the real estate business so much. As an engineer, I like to build things. I would also donate some to the poor, especially children and old people who still live in poverty, and have to deal with disease and starvation. In my opinion, if you are born to be a lucky person, then you have to share your happiness with unlucky people so the world can be balanced and get better.

If I only had $5 I would…. buy one or two bottles of Coke to cool off from the hot summer.