Karen Koh

Where is your home country? 


Where do you live now? 

Hong Kong

What languages do you speak?

English, French, Mandarin Chinese

What was the name of your course?

Bachelor of Economics

When did you graduate?


What was the name of your education provider?

Presbyterian Ladies College, Sydney, The University of Sydney

Employers now are looking for the "whole person" who not only has a set of required skills, but who has something extra to add depth and interest to their workforce, and often these traits enhance your skills.

Student life

Why did you choose to study in this field?

The B.Ec was a flexible degree that allowed me to choose courses across a range of fields from political science to accounting, and also courses from the Faculty of Arts. As I wasn't sure what career path I wanted to take, this flexibility was important. I ended up with a very "interesting" degree with majors in English, Industrial Relations and Tax Law. Not a conventional way to go at all, but since I was not going to be an accountant, nor go into government, I just decided to take courses that I enjoyed. I have no regrets in doing this, as having some knowledge of diverse fields of study and all the critical thinking and essay writing for English set me up perfectly for journalism.

Why did you decide to study in NSW?

I grew up in Sydney and my dad worked at Sydney University, so I naturally gravitated towards it since I was young. At the time I attended it was more common for local students to study in their home state and live at home unless they were from rural areas.

Tell us about your experience studying in NSW

I really enjoyed studying and living in NSW as a young student. The student body was diverse and engaged in social issues of the time as well as academic activities. There were a lot of opportunities to meet people from different backgrounds on campus, whether through courses we attended together or extracurricular activities like sports, arts, special interest clubs or university events. NSW's great outdoors is also fun to explore with friends and getting around was also easy.

What was the highlight of your experience studying in NSW?

The friends I made! Many of my classmates and those in the years above and below me ended up working overseas, and we have continued to stay in touch both in those overseas countries and back in Australia. That friendship network has always been a highlight as it connects you through a lifetime. I still rely on those friends for their opinions and advice sometimes, and it's also just good to spend time with people who've known you since your young adulthood and still feel close.

What opportunities has studying in NSW given to you?

Interestingly I have not worked in Australia after graduation but having my degree from a highly regarded and well-known NSW University helped me get in the door for my first job in Singapore. Also, I found that there's a large NSW student diaspora around the world, and since we are usually a minority in places like the US and the UK, we usually make a bit of extra effort to make a connection.

Career goals and advice

What are you doing now in your career?

I have had a long career as an international broadcast journalist, working in Singapore, London and Hong Kong. I've worked as a TV producer and presenter for global networks such as BBC World, CNBC Asia and CNN International, covered some major world events and interviewed heads of state, corporate and cultural leaders. I have also worked in radio in Hong Kong, producing and hosting my own show on gender and sexuality issues, as well as regularly co-host a current affairs programme. I have also transitioned from being in front of the camera to training and coaching corporate leaders in presentation and media skills, as well as launched radio shows and podcasts for corporate clients. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, work has transitioned to virtual training, radio shows, podcasting and hosting virtual events, so has become even more diverse

Why did you decide to follow your chosen career path? 

I feel more like the career path chose me than the other way around. After studying in NSW, I went onto do a masters in Australia-Asia Relations  and was very passionate and curious about it. Family circumstances led to a move to Singapore, and the first job I was offered there was at Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (now called Mediacorp), as a producer for the flagship weekly English language current affairs programme. That role combined my love of news and current world events with the skills of storytelling, interviewing. shooting and editing, which I discovered I also loved. I felt privileged to have a job in which I could turn an idea into a broadcast production which would be seen by an audience. I love talking to people and finding out their stories, and have continued to do this throughout my career, and now also help other people and companies tell their stories.

Can you share any career advice for current students or graduates?

I think for today's students and graduates, having multiple skillsets is important, and having skills that overlap with what you love to do really helps. If you're studying business but also love photography, spend some time on that hobby so you're competent at it, and it adds another dimension to your resume. Employers now are looking for the "whole person" who not only has a set of required skills, but who has something extra to add depth and interest to their workforce, and often these traits enhance your skills. Athletes are often sought after because they understand how to achieve goals, or how to work in a team. If you're artistic, you may bring a creative bent to problem solving. If you're passionate about a social issue like gender equality, you may be valuable in that company's diversity and inclusion initiative.

What is the best way to develop a social life in NSW?

I think there are several ways depending on your interests and how outgoing you are. As a student you'll naturally meet fellow students and connect with some of them as friends.  If there's a sport or activity you like, joining a group which does this is a great way to meet people. I've recently -taken up roller skating after a long break and have found skate groups on Facebook which are open to all, and where you can meet up to skate together on the streets. Given pandemic restrictions it's also a great way to be social, but outdoors and safe. I also do some ocean swimming in the mornings with a friend, who has introduced me to her friends. Enrolling in a course for fun is also a great way to meet people who have a shared interest.

Do you remain involved in NSW?

Yes - I have family and friends there, so travel there every year. I was  temporarily based in Sydney/Central Coast for the first half of 2022. It was wonderful to spend an extended time back in NSW reconnecting with old friends, exploring old and new neighbourhoods, enjoying the outdoors and discovering new places. I've been living out of Australia since 1990 and have only been back for

short visits, never enough time to see everyone and do everything I want to do with my own family in tow. While a lot has changed, I always feel at home when I return and there's a familiarity in the pace and energy which is comforting. And being back reminds me of what a great quality of life there is in NSW.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience studying in NSW?

NSW is your place. Don’t ponder on it too long. The experience has shaped me into who I am today. I am forever indebted to my roots in NSW. Thank you.

Karen Koh NSW Alumni at a work exhibition booth