Thomas Da Jose is passionate about synchronising his professional career as an engineer with his personal interest in improving people's lives.
As cofounder of both Masy Consultants and the ASEAN-Australia Strategic Youth Partnership, Thomas is well on the way to achieving this goal. He hopes that his involvement with the Australia–ASEAN Emerging Leaders Program (A2ELP) will give him news skills to follow his passion.
"I applied for the program because it was an exciting opportunity to tap into the networks and knowledge of people who have the same interests and ambitions," Thomas said. Launched in 2016, A2ELP brings together 15 young professionals from the region for an eight day workshop to learn new skills and expand their networks.
"I'm looking forward to learning from successful businesses and enterprises," he said.
"This sort of entrepreneurship is something they don't really teach at university, so it will be great to see how it's done. I want to learn how to refine our business model to widen the impact of our activities."
Completing his Bachelor of Engineering and Diploma in Engineering Practice from the University of Technology Sydney in 2017, Thomas spent some time in Thailand through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's New Colombo Plan. Inspired by this experience, he cofounded Masy Consultants.
"We set up Masy in the Philippines, originally to look at how we could work with communities to meet their power needs through renewable sources," Thomas said.
"Through the relationships we built in this project, we found that an even more pressing problem was the lack of clean water and sanitation. Over 90% of households did not have proper sanitation. We are now working with local government units and water districts to help them adopt and implement septic treatment management programs."
The relationships built in Masy led Thomas to another path to further his passion.
"Through Masy, I met many young professionals who were also interested in leading grassroots activities. I started to think about how we could help each other to learn and grow, and how we could collaborate to help solve complex problems."
In 2018, Thomas helped to establish the ASEAN-Australia Strategic Youth Partnership.
"It was a group of the right people who came together at the right time and thought 'what if?'. We recognised the potential of bringing together young people from across Australian and ASEAN to accelerate progress in a whole range of projects. We also wanted to improve understanding and connections between the region's next generation of leaders."
Thomas is excited by the momentum and growth of the partnership. In less than a year, the group has established communication and training activities to support young leaders. They have also organised an inaugural forum, supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australia-ASEAN Council, which will bring together 50 young professionals in a four day intensive workshop in Jakarta.
"The forum is about building leadership skills and a regional network of like-minded young people," said Thomas.
"We will also leverage the success of the forum by tracking and supporting projects that delegates develop, so that they can draw on the strength and promotional reach of the network to further their goals."