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Alumnus Duurenbileg Oyunbileg engineers a fairer future

Posted: 26 July 2022

Duurenbileg Oyunbileg knew he would receive an Australia Award Scholarship almost a decade before he was accepted.

Growing up in the Mongolian countryside, in a district unconnected to public utilities, Duurenbileg experienced a childhood without proper access to water, heat or electricity. This inspired his dreams of becoming an engineer and impacting meaningful change to his environment and community.

Those dreams turned into goals and Duurenbileg became an engineer, working as a project manager for public programs such as infrastructure. But he wasn’t done and even before moving to the city to start his bachelor’s degree, Duurenbileg made a commitment to himself that he would one day complete his master’s degree in another country, an English-speaking country. He scoured through scholarships from countries such as the United States and New Zealand, before deciding on the Australian Awards Scholarship.

Decision made, Duurenbileg monitored the requirements of the scholarship, marked his targets, and crossed them off his list, one after the other. In 2014, he applied for the award and was denied. It was a temporary setback though as giving up was never an option, “I have to go there, I have to study this…” he’d tell himself. He continued to prepare for his eventual Australian expedition—improving his English and collecting information on what he should expect from the experience. Three years later, in 2017 Duurenbileg re-applied for the scholarship, and was accepted.

With his family in tow, Duurenbileg enrolled at the University of New South Wales, studying a Masters of Engineering Science (Project Management). His first Semester was idyllic—he was relaxed, learning new things, enjoying the Australian weather, nature, and culture with his family. Then came the trimesters. With courses delivered in a compressed amount of time, Duurenbileg’s life of leisure came to an untimely end.

Duurenbileg didn’t come to Australia for a holiday though, his goals were still clear and he wanted to know how big projects were managed in Australia and how he could adapt those methods for Mongolia. It was especially invaluable when he was hired as a project manager for an Australian construction company.

On returning to Mongolia, Duurenbileg has put his hard-earned knowledge and skills to work. While he used to look at project implementation optimistically, he now uses a more analytical approach: What factors influence the possible outcomes of the project? What happens if a project can’t be finished on time? If it can’t be finished on budget? What if a pandemic suddenly spreads throughout the world?

Sometimes, things just happen—but by doubling down on the planning stage of his projects, Duurenbileg now reaches his desired outcome more than 90% of the time.

To those thinking about applying for an Australia Award Scholarship, Duurenbileg Oyunbileg has this to say:

“It’s the chance to change your life and community more than you expected, more than you wanted… once you are awarded, your life will totally change. You will be someone who will be like 1% of the population who can change, who can bring that impact on your community, on your nation.

“Your principles, your education, your family—you will be a totally different person after Australia. You will be seeing the world from different angles as well. So, I would say: I know your life right now is hard. I know you are not living good. I know you are not educated enough. But if you always keep going, always stay yourself—you will get a scholarship, as long as you still dream about your future and your community.”