UQ Business School MBA graduate Colin Hardcastle has added a new string to his bow winning the annual Service to the Community Top MBA Award for his work with the Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra.
A keen violinist with no real outlet for his talent, Mr Hardcastle, along with a group of similarly-minded local musicians, launched the Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) in 2000.
Mr Hardcastle said that as BPO President for the past nine years he had been able to apply his MBA studies to benefit a real organisation.
"What I was learning confirmed my thinking and helped give me a framework for my work and decision making and planning," he said.
"At the same time, the BPO taught me a lot about running a small organisation."
Formerly a computer engineer, it was his volunteer role at the BPO that prompted Mr Hardcastle to take on an MBA in the first place.
"I realised that was the direction in which I wanted to head," Mr Hardcastle said. "I had combined undergraduate degrees in computer engineering and science, but I found software design boring.
"I realised I was more interested in the world of business and how to motivate people to work and get the best out of them."
So in 2003 Mr Hardcastle quit his job and went back to university full-time.
However, the demands of the BPO - now Brisbane's largest community orchestra with over 70 regular members - were constantly competing with his studies.
Add in a new wife and two young children along the way and the 31-year-old Grange resident admits his full-time study soon became "very slow part-time".
But his hard work and his wife's patience has finally paid off with Mr Hardcastle one of 92 UQBS MBA students set to graduate this month and one of 10 outstanding students recognised at the annual Top MBA Awards evening held at Brisbane Customs House recently.
At the end of the year, Mr Hardcastle will hand over the reins of the BPO and - having recently become a victim of the global financial crisis which cost him his job as a Business Consultant with IT firm Logica - is keen to see where his MBA can take him.
"My dream job would be to run an organisation. I have great experience in that area and I think I have a lot to offer. I would love to do that overseas, probably in the UK," he said.