Mixing business with pleasure: The couple who made it work

Mixing business with pleasure: The couple who made it work

After dating only six months, Brent and Katie Rooke started the Executive Master of Business together. Four years, a wedding, and a baby girl later, they’ve graduated together, too.

After the couple met in 2014, they decided to expand their romantic journey to an educational one.

Both looking to further their education and gain a competitive edge in their careers, they enrolled in the Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) at RMIT.

L-R: Georgia, Katie and Brent Rooke L-R: Georgia, Katie and Brent Rooke

Brent, an ex-army officer turned commercial pilot, says he was attracted to the course for the different possibilities it could open up for him and the flexibility it offered.

“Because I hadn’t done an undergraduate degree, I was able to use the ten years I spent in the army to qualify for the course. Also, the option to study online was a huge part of both of our decisions.”

“And of course, a healthy sense of competition,” he adds, with a laugh.

Flexibility turned out to be more important than they had initially anticipated, following the arrival of their baby daughter Georgia.

Having a daughter – a 21-month-old who, Katie says, is already walking, talking and negotiating – really changed their approach to studying.

 “We were dealing with a lot of sleep deprivation and trying to figure out how to keep things moving,” she says.

“But one of the main drivers for us was wanting her to grow up knowing that her parents had done everything they could to give her a good life.”

“I really wanted her to look at the things we’ve done and say, ‘I can do that as well.’”

Katie dreams of opening her own business with she skills she gained from the EMBA. Katie dreams of opening her own business.

Katie, who currently works as a Human Resources Executive, says her ambition is to start her own business and work for herself.

“I feel the EMBA has given me a more encompassing understanding of the world that might open that door down the track,” she says.

“The focus on innovation at RMIT really made the program unique – it’s quite different to what other universities focus on. This was beneficial for us because it allowed us to learn a new mindset.”

Brent says the skills he gained from the EMBA are already making a difference in his aviation career. Brent says the skills he gained from the EMBA are already making a difference in his aviation career.

Brent says the skills he gained from the EMBA are already making a difference in his aviation career.

“I’m not from a business background in a practical sense, so the EMBA has taught me a lot that I’ve been able to apply to different roles,” he says.

“It’s rewarding to study something that’s difficult, with the support of the lecturer, and come out on the other end having gained practical skills.”

Both agreed it felt euphoric to graduate, and to celebrate at the graduation ceremony with their friends and family.

“We’ve both sacrificed a lot, but it really felt worth it in the end – it’s a real achievement for both of us,” Brent says.

RMIT’s EMBA recently received a 5-year EPAS reaccreditation, the only Australian university to achieve this, and one of four universities globally.

Pro Vice-Chancellor College of Business and Law Julie Cogin says the program stands out because it has design thinking at its core, which is rare in the market.

“Our students come to us because we provide them with industry relevant tools and techniques they can readily apply to their workplaces,” she says.

"We’re very proud to offer such a distinctive programme delivered by a world-class faculty and hope it will positively influence the business leaders of the future."


Story: Jasmijn van Houten


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  • Student experience

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