By Cam Lucadou-Wells
There is not much that Dandenong North’s Peter Jabbour hasn’t achieved.
A business success story, a Greater Dandenong Living Treasure, a Multicultural Ambassador, an Order of Australia medallist, and a generous charity donor and volunteer.
But at 76, Mr Jabbour has done something that would deter many of his age. He went back to school.
He enrolled at Southern Cross University – and graduated with a Master of Business Law on 12 February.
It was a long-held dream. Before moving to Australia from the Middle East, Mr Jabbour had been accepted but unable to take up the offer to study at Oxford University in 1962.
Instead he arrived in Australia nearly 50 years ago, building his own companies in his import business World of Technologies, Euro Home and Jabbour Holding Group.
In his studies, Mr Jabbour wasn’t lost in the heady complexities of intellectual property, contracts, international law, corporate governance and taxation
What he had learnt to survive in the international business world wasn’t written in books, he said.
“My professors found I knew more than the other students.”
Born in Jerusalem, he spent up to seven hours a day translating, recording and typing up course notes into his native Arabic language.
It at least doubled his workload but ensured he understood the 21 subjects “100 per cent perfect”.
“Anyone who wants to be successful has to sacrifice his happiness and his time.
“You can’t get a good result in business or in study without putting in the time.”
All the while, he endured serious health battles, including three surgeries and a trip to emergency in the past year.
Even in hospital, he kept studying.
Despite having glaucoma in one eye, he continued to read into late into the night. He started reading recordings of his notes to take the pressure off his eye.
“Even if I lose my eye, I will continue studying,” he told his family.
And then there was Covid-19.
But funnily enough, the pandemic lockdown suited Mr Jabbour – it gave him more time to devote 60-hour weeks to his studies.
“It used to take a lot of work but I enjoyed it. It’s not easy but I enjoyed the challenge.
“You can do what you want to do in this life – if you want to.
“It shows you can learn a lot of things even at my age. Nothing is impossible.”
Health permitting, he’ll use his qualifications to help others who can’t afford legal advocacy.
And he hopes his example will also inspire others his age not to be afraid to study or to try. Just as one of his grandchildren recently enrolled for law studies.
“I want to leave for my four grandkids more than just money but to encourage them to study.
“I want to encourage a whole new generation to come and study.”