Victorian Training Awards winner Imran Khan's business career is rising—fast. He finished his traineeship 18 months ahead of schedule and became construction project manager within a year.
Today, Imran's a partner in a project management and engineering company, managing a team of 20, and is about to complete a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) from Monash University.
'I started out wanting to be an architect but that all changed when I did school holiday work experience at the drawing office of AE Smith & Son, a company whose expertise includes heating, ventilation and refrigeration.'
Drawing and drafting involves making technical drawings in an engineering environment – close to Imran's interest in architecture.
The company invited Imran to stay on, so he enrolled in the Air Conditioning and Mechanical Contractors' Association (AMCA), drafting program. He loved it and qualified with a Certificate IV in Engineering Drafting (Airconditioning and Mechanical Services) – in super quick time.
Award gets Imran noticed
Imran was destined for the fast track. After winning the AMCA Training Achievement of the Year Award in 2010, he went on to win Trainee of the Year at the Victorian Training Awards.
'Being named best in the state made me stop and reflect, and it was a validation of what I'd achieved in a pretty short time,' Imran says.
'It helped me to focus on where I wanted to go in the future. I thought, "if I can do this, what next?" Also, people in very senior positions started noticing me. That exposure really helped to accelerate my career.'
After working for 10 years in the industry, Imran joined FG Advisory in Melbourne. Now, as a partner with the company, he heads up the organisation's fast growing project management stream.
Practical, hands-on skills are paramount
As an employer, Imran is always on the look-out for skilled, exceptional talent. He says he 'disagrees completely' with the 'myth' that university-trained graduates are superior to those who have been through vocational education and training.
'As far as employability skills are concerned, if I have two candidates side by side who are both 25, one university trained and one VET trained, I find that the work experience from the VET qualified person places them about four years ahead of their university counterpart,' Imran says.
'The first question I ask a candidate is, "what have you done"? It doesn't mean much to me if they can read a text book and have lots of theory but can't start contributing straight away.'
'For me, experience on the job is paramount and that's why my entire team has a practical, hands-on background.'
Reflecting on his rapid rise from trainee to where he is today, Imran commented that his journey had been 'lots of hard work, lots of long hours, and lots of fun'.
'I'm looking to double the size of the company by the end of next year, and that's a really exciting prospect,' Imran says.
The Victorian Training Awards winners for 2018 will be announced on 24 August.
Read more stories about past VTA winner at Where are they now?