International Student Story - Jerald Laparan

Jerald Laparan Barr Smith

Jerald Laparan has recently completed his Master of Applied Innovation and Entrepreneurship under an Australia Awards Scholarship.

Hailing from the Philippines, where he worked in one of the largest education-technology start-ups, Jerald focused his research on how the Philippines can have more ‘unicorn start-ups’ – privately held startup companies valued at over $1 billion.

While working at in the Philippines, Jerald was one of the first employees working as a project coordinator until he received several promotions before becomming Head of Sales for the biggest region in the Philippines.

While in Adelaide, Jerald has enjoyed his time and endeavored to leave an impact on Adelaide. When he learned the University had not done a TEDx event before, he took it upon himself to initiate the project, enlisting the help of university management to execute the event along with other students.


What opportunities have you received due to the Australia Awards Scholarship?

“The education alone has transformed me into a better individual and more skilled professional. It has brought me new skills, improved my critical thinking, and exposed me to new connections that are meaningful towards my career. Because of the scholarship, I had the chance to lead TEDxUniAdelaide and meet interesting speakers – some were Rhodes Scholars and University of Adelaide alumni; the former Chief Entrepreneur of South Australia; an Aboriginal Arts curator; and many accomplished students from our university.”


Jerald Laparan speaking at ceremony

What was a highlight from your studies in Australia?

My favourite subject was a subject and competition all in one - the e-tech challenge. Being a non-tech person, I learnt many technical skills and software to create prototype products. Working in a tech start-up in the Philippines, it is very important to my career that I am updated on technological trends. The challenge also enabled me to validate theories of business models and entrepreneurship, which we usually discussed in class.

The University has given me so many training sessions and seminar opportunities on top of my studies. This included having access to online training content via LinkedIn, and other training delivered by companies such as McKinsey and Morgan Stanley. These opportunities helped me to shape my career plans.”


Have you picked up any new hobbies since spending time in Australia?

“I am now engrossed in studying music. Despite being busy with assessments, I found time to study Beethoven songs on the keyboard. I also joined the Adelaide University Choir Society and volunteered at a 7th Day Adventist church as a bass singer.


What is your favourite thing about living in Adelaide?

“One of my favourite parts of living in Australia is access to healthy food and how Australians value their physical health. When I came here, I was a little bit overweight for my height. And then I started eating healthy, being active, and getting in shape. This improved both my physical health and self-confidence.

Also, the Barr Smith Library is where I usually study. Sometimes, I was so mesmerized by it’s beauty that I couldn’t focus on what I was reading.”


Jerald Laparan main image

What do you miss about the Philippines?

“I really miss my family and my friends. But due to technology, it feels like I never left. We always catch-up over video call.”


What is your goal now that you have completed your degree?

“My goal is to start my own start-up creating products and technology that helps people’s mental health. I was not into mental health when I was in the Philippines, but when I came to Australia, I became aware of how important it is, having experienced the anxiety and depression brought on by the pandemic and living alone in a new city.”


Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I imagine myself as one of the celebrated founders of a start-up company, like Melanie Perkins, founder of Canva, or Reed Hastings, founder of Netflix.


Jerald Laparan autumn leaves

Quickfire questions

Getting dressed for university or staying in pajamas?

Getting dressed.


Adelaide Hills or Adelaide’s beaches?

Adelaide Hills.


What’s your go-to study music?

Classical music, and Mariah Carey songs.


Zoom meetings/classes or in-person?



Home delivery or home-cooked meals?

Home-cooked meals.


Reading or streaming tv/movies?

Streaming tv/movies. I like Big Bang Theory, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Schitt’s Creek.

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