Business Newsroom

La Trobe Business School

Meet the new Dean and Head of LBS

Jane Hamilton is the new Dean & Head of the La Trobe Business School.  Business Newsroom sat down with her to ask her some questions about her long-standing relationship with LBS, her new role, taking on challenges, how she relaxes, and more.

 

 

Where do you come from and what brings you to La Trobe University?

I was a student at La Trobe University, at the Bendigo campus. Back then it was still the Bendigo College of Advanced Education, which became part of La Trobe in the 1990s. After finishing my degree I joined the staff as a tutor, and gradually worked my way up. I have been associated with La Trobe for about 30 years. I took an opportunity to work at the University of Technology in Sydney from 2000 to 2005 because I wanted more experience and exposure with my research. But after that, I came back to La Trobe because it is a great place to work.

 

How will you be approaching your new role as Head of School?

Being part of the LBS for nearly 30 years means that I’m very familiar with what we do. However, this is a new role for me so it gives me the opportunity to help LBS find a new direction for the future, and we’re working on a strategy to help us do that. We want to keep everything that’s good about LBS and build upon that. This means providing education that meets students’ expectations for the new world of work, help students get interesting jobs and prepare them for anything that might come to them in the future. I want all LBS students to have a fantastic experience with us.

In terms of research, LBS has great strengths in several areas. We have a number of research centres, and we would like to see them flourish. In particular, the two largest ones, the Centre for Sport and Social Impact and the Research Centre for Data Analytics & Cognition, are well connected with outside parties. We also have many academics that are experts in their fields and very highly rated internationally. Several of our research disciplines are rated above world standard and I would like to support them to keep continuing their good work.

Several of our staff come in as early career researchers. I would like to help them develop their skills in research so that they too can have a career in research. I would like them to have a satisfying career, feel connected within the school, have the possibility to engage with business and the community around them and allow them to produce research that is meaningful in a variety of ways. Their work might impact the way people do business, it might impact on the academic research field, or impact on people’s personal lives. There is a wide range of research happening within LBS and we need to support that to make our research output even stronger.

 

What do you know now that you wished you knew when you were a student at university?

I just loved being a student. Up until then, it was the most interesting thing that I had done, it was a joy to challenge myself and learn new things.

I wish I would have had a little bit more self-belief. When I started doing research I was so nervous about standing up in front of people and presenting my ideas. I didn’t know whether I had done a good job or not. Looking back, I did a good job and I just wish I had more confidence and more belief in myself.

 

Have you always been ambitious?

Yes and no. It’s not so much about ambition. I never thought I would be in a particular position, I wasn’t ambitious in that sense, but I do enjoy taking on new things and I think all ambitious people do. I think ambitious people enjoy the process of learning. Taking on a new position like this is where I get that joy of learning. When you’re a student all is new, and then when you’re in a job for too long it can get a bit stale, so you need to give yourself a new challenge and that’s what I like to do. You take on a challenge, you master that, and take on another challenge and you master that, and that constant stretching helps you develop.

I didn’t know that I was going to end up in this position, going from an LBS student to becoming the Dean & Head of School for LBS. It was quite a journey and I probably didn’t know what I was going to do, but every step of the way I challenged myself and took on that stretch, and it was very rewarding. I learnt this process over the years so probably if I knew this back then I would have taken more steps earlier, but that’s life.

 

What do you do to get rid of stress?

Lately I have been going for runs and I have been really enjoying it. If I don’t feel like running, I’ll go for a walk. I enjoy getting up early and going out. It helps me to get into work fresh and feel prepared for a long day ahead.

During my weekends I like to go outside and work on our bush block, walk around in nature, something like that. I don’t do very ambitious things, I like to do something that is out of work and outside. Just get basic, not having to talk to people or think about things too much. It gives me that contrast with my job.

I like to take at least one day during my weekend where I turn everything off so that I can just have that break. I work quite long days during the week, and sometimes you need to do some work on the weekend to get ready on Monday, but I do try and work really hard during the week so that I can have a bit of space on the weekend. Taking a break is important.

 

Last question, if people come across you at the coffee-machine, what’s a good conversation starter?

“Can I get you a coffee?” and I will always say yes! A simple “how are you today?” is also fine, ask me what I think of the cricket, or the footy. That will get me engaged in a conversation.

 

Professor Jane Hamilton was appointed as Dean and Head of La Trobe Business School in April 2018 and brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this important leadership position. Jane is a Professor of Accounting and holds a PhD from Monash University and a Masters of Accountancy from the University of New England, having completed her undergraduate studies in Bendigo. She brings a unique perspective to the role of Head of School, having worked at La Trobe’s Bendigo campus since 1989. Jane was Associate Head of the Business School from 2015 to 2018 and had responsibility for regional campus operations, international partnerships, and third-party teaching. As well as her experience in senior management positions, Jane has a distinguished record of teaching, research and partnership engagement at both La Trobe University and the University of Technology, Sydney.

A Dutchie on exchange at La Trobe

Business Newsroom brings you a blog written by a Dutch exchange student who studied a semester at La Trobe Business School.

 

 

Hi! My name is Pieter Siemonsma and I’m a 22-year-old exchange student from The Netherlands.

 

In the Netherlands I study Sports, Health and Management at Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen (only a 1.5 hour from Amsterdam!). As part of my degree I could apply for a semester abroad and so I did. I wanted to improve my English language skills and broaden my Western perception further than the ideals of European countries. La Trobe University gave me both those opportunities.

 

At La Trobe I have been able to make so many friends and experience so many things through living on campus in one of the colleges. I attended sporting matches, went to parties and got to know Melbourne at its finest.

 

Through La Trobe Business School I was also able to achieve the personal goals I set before coming to Melbourne.

 

The school’s facilities were great and the teachers were always available to help.

 

Unfortunately, this chapter of my life has almost come to an end and I have to leave La Trobe after this semester.  Before heading home, I’m going to travel through this country and explore more of its beauty.

 

Coming to Australia and being part of the La Trobe community has been an unforgettable experience.

 

I will always look back at my time here with a smile and I am very thankful to La Trobe for that!

Going to Kuala Lumpur with the New Colombo Plan

Business Newsroom sat down with Associate Professor Alison Parkes, Head of Department of Accounting & Data Analytics, to talk about her visit to Kuala Lumpur where she visited New Colombo Plan students.

 

What is the New Colombo Plan?

The New Colombo Plan (NCP) is an Australian Government initiative to increase knowledge of the Indo Pacific region by supporting undergraduates to study and undertake internships. Essentially the original Colombo Plan in the 1960s & 70s brought students from South-East Asia to Australia, while the New Colombo Plan takes Australian students to South-East Asia.

The Department of Accounting & Data Analytics applied for places in the first round of funding for this program and were awarded 6 places in 2016, 8 places in 2017 and 10 places in 2018. The places are only available to high achieving Accounting students who hold Australian citizenship.

The funding involves $3000 per student to go on placement in Malaysia for 4-6 weeks. The aim is to broaden students’ view of the world and to give them a taste of living and working in Asia.

 

Alison Parkes in Kuala Lumpur with New Colombo Plan students and alumni

 

Who are the students that went to Kuala Lumpur?

The eight students were all Accounting scholars, five from Melbourne and three from regional campuses. Scholarships seem to be taken up primarily by students from the larger campus in Melbourne but I wanted to ensure regional applicants were considered. Two of the regional students were from Shepparton and one from Bendigo, and for some of them it was their first time in Asia.

 

Where do NCP students go and how is it organised?

Once students have been accepted into the NCP program we provide workshops to upskill them in software use and the soft skills we know employers highly value. We also do some acculturation, providing them with information on living and working in Malaysia.

The placement details are arranged by a third party placement provider in conjunction with La Trobe staff. When students arrive in Kuala Lumpur, they are welcomed by Global Student, the third party placement agency. Global Student arranges the student’s placement and accommodation but also organises cultural and tourist activities. Several students went to the Australian High Commission for an event but there are also informal things like visits to Penang or a daytrip into the city. It’s a whole cultural and educational package and generally the scholarship funding ($3,000) covers most of these costs.

Global Student places students in a range of places, some go to the Big 4, like KPMG, while others experience working in smaller firms.

 

NCP students’ orientation in KL

 

What are the kind of tasks NCP students do?

The subject LBS students are enrolled in is the Accounting Workplace Program (ACC3AWP) which is a fairly standard Work Integrated Learning (WIL) subject. Out of the 23 students enrolled in the Accounting Workplace Program last summer 8 were NCP students and the other 15 were students doing local placements. The subject runs exactly the same whether you are in Melbourne or in KL.

The Accounting Work Placement includes several assessment pieces. Students write a reflective report that looks back on their experience. They write and submit a short journal entry each week talking about what happened that week, what they learned and the tasks they did. This is also useful to me as the Subject Coordinator, I can see how the placement is progressing and offer support and mentoring if any issues arise along the way. At the end of the program they put those entries together in a report and it provides them with a document they can look back at and reflect on what they learned. Students also write a placement report focused on the accounting work they did; this could be either a pre-defined project with a deliverable outcome or an operational role. We have had students asked to check whether data was correct, another group wrote an audit report including recommendations following up on stock that was disappearing within a company. We even had one student who went to a smaller organisation, whose accounting system wasn’t very well set up, so she re-built their accounting system from scratch. It really depends on the placement needs and the skills of the student.

 

What were you doing in Kuala Lumpur?

It is important to make sure our students have an instructive and enjoyable experience, so I went over to KL to see how everybody was getting on. I checked-in with Global Student staff and met with all the students, we had dinner together and I spent time making sure everybody was progressing okay. It is a sort of pastoral care-check combined with a review of the academic rigour attached to the placements. We need to make sure our students are undertaking meaningful work and are being supported appropriately in all our work placement programs.

The NCP is a really good program, we have 10 places available next year, but experience some difficulty finding the right students to partake. As already said, many of our students have not travelled much and going on an adventure like this requires an element of trust. We prefer to select students who are confident in their ability to survive and thrive in a totally different environment as the NCP takes students well outside their comfort zone.

For students who do take this opportunity you can see the difference when they come back. Their confidence, their work-readiness, they know better now what they are studying for, it just opens their eyes. There is something very brave about going to Asia for 6 weeks. They come back and can say to themselves “It went well, I did that, I made that happen!”

 

 

Associate Professor Alison Parkes is a researcher, educator, consultant, and author whose expertise relates to optimising information quality and decision outcomes via better design and control of accounting systems and processes. In her professional career prior to entering academia she held positions at Queensland Rail, Rio Tinto, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Her academic career has included positions at Massey University New Zealand (Associate Lecturer) The University of Melbourne (Lecturer, Senior Lecturer) and Taylor’s University Malaysia (Associate Professor and MBA Program Director). Alison’s research consists of two primary themes; (1) The task-technology-individual fit implications of accounting systems design choices, and (2) Strategic investment decision-making. Her research has been published in journals including Decision Support Systems, Behaviour & IT, the Business Process Management Journal, and the Australian Journal of Information Systems. She authors a leading Australian accounting information systems textbook and also designs and delivers specialised executive education and consulting. Alison has consulted internationally to the Governments of Malaysia and Iraq, and completed a variety of management accounting consulting jobs in the Australian not for profit sector.

 

 

LBS Innovation Series: Think big or go home

This blog, as part of the LBS Innovation Series, brings you a presentation by Kate Burleigh, former Managing Director of Intel Australia/NZ and now country manager of Amazon Alexa Skills across Australia and New Zealand.

 

Kate’s topic is:

Think big or go home – why students and businesses with a global mindset are more likely to succeed within the digital era.

 

Platform economics & technologies

Kate addresses the rise of platform economics and how this enabling technology together with globalisation is driving the current wave of digital innovation and disruption. She outlines how the proliferation of connectivity and the growing power of data and data analytics is lowering costs through the use of platforms, cloud-based processing, storage and tools. Kate talks about the proliferation of platform economy since the advent of hot spots, Wi-Fi and cloud computing technologies used by companies like YouTube, Amazon, Uber, Airbnb, Facebook and Netflix.

What these firms and the next wave of Chinese technology firms such as Alibaba, Tencent, and WeChat have in common is that they think globally, have monopolistic tendency (i.e. they become the market standard), use artificial intelligence and are agile. For example, these companies have attached payment systems to their platforms which give them a competitive advantage.

In the below presentation we see how Kate challenges our current generation of educators, students, start-ups and business leaders to foster a global mindset and to better utilise and adopt platform technologies in order to be competitive and succeed more strongly.

 

Watch her presentation below:

 

This blog is part of the LBS Innovation Series, developed by Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics in the La Trobe Business School. The series was developed after the successful National Innovation Forum organised by La Trobe Business School, NORTH Link and Deloitte Consulting P/L.

More blogs in the LBS Innovation Series:

Meet the Head of Department of Accounting and Data Analytics

Since January 2018, Alison Parkes has been the Head of Department of Accounting & Data Analytics. Business Newsroom sat down with Alison to ask her some questions about who she is, what made her come to La Trobe and other interesting facts about her.

 

Are you new to La Trobe?

I joined La Trobe in January 2017 and took up the HoD role after one year in the Department.

 

Where do you come from and what brought you to La Trobe University in 2017?

Before starting at La Trobe, I was with Taylor’s University in Malaysia for two years. I was recruited by them to build and accredit their MBA program. I specialised in postgraduate education during my time at Melbourne Uni which preceded my Malaysian appointment. While at Melbourne I had oversight of the Master of Business & IT throughout its entire life cycle from inception through to eventually teaching it out. When Taylor’s recruited me as their inaugural MBA Program Director I lived and worked two years in Malaysia, did lots of travel, built the MBA, got it accredited, and saw my first student cohort graduate just before I came back to Australia.

When I got towards the end of my two-year contract at Taylor’s in 2016 I had to decide whether I wanted to stay on for another two years or move back to Australia. I loved living in Malaysia but missed my family in Australia. I had already decided to come back when the job at La Trobe came up. I always wanted to work at La Trobe, so I applied for the job and was lucky enough to be appointed.

Before Taylor’s, I was at University of Melbourne for 15 years, I did my PhD there as a part-time PhD candidate and a full-time staff member. I graduated with my PhD in 2009. I’m a late career academic, a large part of my career was in industry. In my last industry role I was the most senior female IT executive in a state railway, working with huge financial systems projects and large numbers of staff. I got my first academic appointment at Massey University in New Zealand as a level A Lecturer in Information Systems. When I went into academia I had to start all the way from the bottom again, which was sort of a fun thing.

 

Why do you think La Trobe University is a good fit?

I have always been interested in the research projects and outputs from La Trobe as they are not always mainstream. I came from a more conservative academic environment with particular and relatively narrow views on what you were expected to publish and where to publish. I like what people are doing here, there is a lot more freedom and critical analysis, more work around sustainability, more private enterprise focus.

I have never been a traditional financial accountant. My background is accounting information systems. My first ever-academic job was not in an accounting department, but in an information systems department. While I was lecturing in IS I did my Honours year and a Masters Research which equipped me to enter the PhD program at Melbourne in Accounting & Business Information Systems. I’m a chartered accountant but have always been interested in the technical accounting systems side, which means my research isn’t necessarily published in mainstream accounting journals.

 

How will you be approaching your new role as Head of Department?

I’m fortunate that my expertise bridges both sides of accounting and data analytics, and I’m looking forward to bringing these disciplines closer together. We also need to refresh the accounting curriculum. Accounting doesn’t have to be boring, I know from my work experience that accounting is a really interesting and diverse field to work in. Across most universities, accounting is mostly treated the same old way, it’s as though we are still working with pen and paper.

I have always been passionate about educating students for the job they are actually going to be doing. To me that means educating them to be an accountant who uses accounting systems and data competently. This year I am rewriting the first year accounting information system subject to integrate Xero software and give students an idea of how it looks when you’re working with an accounting system in the workplace.

So my overall goal is to bring the two related disciplines closer together and refresh the curriculum so it better reflects the authentic lived experience of what accounting actually is. I’m not necessarily talking about changing the topics, but instead focusing on the pedagogy, how it’s being taught and assessed.

 

What do you know now that you wished you knew when you were a student at university?

I have an atypical student experience. I left high school early and came to University for my bachelor’s degree on a special admission program for mature students. I completed my Bachelors, Honours, Masters and PhD all as a part-time student while working full time. My advice to former me would be to maybe consider doing the PhD full-time instead of part-time. Working full-time as a Level B lecturer meant there were whole semesters where I got pretty much nothing done on the thesis. It’s good to look at your research through fresh eyes, but it’s also hard having to re-engage with your topic afresh over and over again.

 

What do you do to get rid of stress?

I never work on the weekend. Everyone has different tactics but that is the rule that I find works for me to balance out my life. I don’t mind being in the office for long hours during the week if it’s necessary but weekends are mine. I like to come back in on Monday feeling re-energised and ready to tackle the week ahead.

 

Lastly, if people come across you at the coffee-machine, what’s a good conversation starter?

Travel! I’m a big traveller. I love all parts of Asia and have travelled there extensively, also lots of US, UK & Europe. Since coming back to Australia I’m making time to visit places that I hadn’t been to before. I’m almost ashamed to admit that I recently went to the Great Ocean Road for the first time after living in Melbourne for 15 years. I’m always coming back from somewhere or about to go somewhere.

 

Associate Professor Alison Parkes is a researcher, educator, consultant, and author whose expertise relates to optimising information quality and decision outcomes via better design and control of accounting systems and processes. In her professional career prior to entering academia she held positions at Queensland Rail, Rio Tinto, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Her academic career has included positions at Massey University New Zealand (Associate Lecturer) The University of Melbourne (Lecturer, Senior Lecturer) and Taylor’s University Malaysia (Associate Professor and MBA Program Director). Alison’s research consists of two primary themes; (1) The task-technology-individual fit implications of accounting systems design choices, and (2) Strategic investment decision-making. Her research has been published in journals including Decision Support Systems, Behaviour & IT, the Business Process Management Journal, and the Australian Journal of Information Systems. She authors a leading Australian accounting information systems textbook and also designs and delivers specialised executive education and consulting. Alison has consulted internationally to the Governments of Malaysia and Iraq, and completed a variety of management accounting consulting jobs in the Australian not for profit sector.

LBS’ graduate is the 200,000th LTU graduate

In 1967, 552 students enrolled at La Trobe University. Last week, Harsha Iruvaram, a Master of International Business became the 200,000th student to graduate from La Trobe University.

Harsha was unaware of the fact he was the 200,000th graduate until after his name was announced on the podium. It was a lovely surprise for him and those who attended the ceremony.

Deputy Chancellor, Andrew Eddy presented Harsha with his degree, while Professor John Dewar joined them both and presented Harsha with flowers and congratulations on behalf of the university.

 

“It feels unbelievable and this will stay forever with me”

 

Professor Dewar was thrilled to see such a special effort made for this special milestone in the University’s history. “Harsha is a very clever young man and it was wonderful to see the look on his face as he was announced the 200,000th graduate,” Professor Dewar said. “He is a hard working individual, who is passionate about his field and always ready to take on the next challenge. He represents what it means to be a La Trobe student.”

Harsha – who moved to Australia from his hometown of Hyderabad – said while leaving his life in India was hard, he felt immensely proud of his decision to study at La Trobe. “It had the subjects that I wanted to do – customer relationship management, dealing with different nationalities and different cultures.”

 

“I love the campus, I love La Trobe. International Business is what attracted me”

 

Harsha aims to continue his career in business and specialise in digital marketing. Since earning his degree, he has landed a Marketing Management internship with Smart Solutions.

 

 

Information in this blog was originally published by LTU News and the LTU Student Blog

Another successful Financial Markets and Corporate Governance Conference

From the 4th till the 7th of April La Trobe Business School hosted the 9th annual Financial Markets and Corporate Governance Conference (FMCG) and associated PhD Symposium.

The conference was supported by Monash University, University of Queensland, Victoria University of Wellington, and the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) and the Pacific Basin Finance Journal (PBFJ).

 

PhD Symposium

The PhD Symposium was a major success with more than 30 PhD candidates from 16 universities from all over the world. LBS PhD Candidate Nader Atawnah won the PhD Symposium Best Paper Award in stream 1: Accounting information/ Disclosure practices/ Earnings quality for his paper “Corporate Tax Avoidance and Foreign Competition: Evidence from Industry – Level Import Data”.

Nader Atawnah receiving his PhD Symposium Best Paper Award.

 

Other PHD candidates that won a PhD Symposium Best Paper Award were:

 Bharat Raj Parajuli from the University of Utah – Asset Pricing/Emerging Markets /Financial Markets/Market Microstructure.

 

Tom Stannard from Victoria University of Wellington – Banking/Behavioural Finance/Corporate Finance/Financial Economics.

 

 Hasibul Chowdhury from University of Queensland – Corporate Governance/Social Responsibility.

 

Chanyuan (Georgina) GE from Macquarie University – Funds Management/Risk Management/Quantitative Finance.

 

Conference

More than 100 researchers from all over the world presented papers at the 9th annual Financial Markets and Corporate Governance Conference (FMCG). Presentations were given in the following streams:

  • Accounting information/ Disclosure practices/ Earnings quality
  • Asset pricing/ Emerging markets/ Financial markets/ Market microstructure
  • Banking/ Behavioural finance/ Corporate finance/ Financial economics
  • Corporate governance/ Social responsibility
  • Funds management/ Risk management/ Quantitative finance

Keynote speakers included world-renowned academics such as Professors Robert Faff, Ron Masulis, Tom Smith and Avanidhar Subrahmanyam.

 

Keynote speaker Professor Avanidhar Subrahmanyam from the UCLA Anderson School of Management

 

Researchers that won a Best Paper Award were:

Ankit Jain from the Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad – Accounting Information/ Disclosure Practices/Earnings Quality

 

 Ying Dou from Monash University, Jason Zein and Ronald W. Masulis, both from the University of New South Wales – Banking/Behavioural Finance/Corporate Finance/Financial Economics.

 

Md Emdadul Islam and Jason Zein, both from the University of New South Wales – Corporate Governance/Social Responsibility

 

Conference Dinner

The Conference Dinner was held at the Melbourne Aquarium and included an industry-focused keynote by James Fazzino. James joined La Trobe as a Vice Chancellor’s Fellow in November last year. Prior to this, he was the CEO of Incitec Pivot. The keynote focused on the strategic takeover of Dyno Nobel and its impact on Incitec Pivot´s value.

James Fazzino giving his Keynote

 

The evening also saw Professor Stephen Brown and Professor Ferdinand Gul recognized for their outstanding achievements. Professor Stephen Brown was recognised for his work in theoretical and empirical research in finance and Professor Ferdinand Gul in empirical research in auditing and assurance.

Professor Stephen Brown receiving his Lifetime Achievement Award

 

Professor Ferdinand Gul receiving his Lifetime Achievement Award

 

Founder of the Financial Markets and Corporate Governance Conference and Conference Chair, LBS Professor Balasingham Balachandran finished the evening with a walk through history from FMCG’s humble beginnings all the way up the current 9th year. His thank you address focused on the participants that make the conference each year even more successful.

Founder of FMCG & LBS Professor Balasingham Balachandran

LBS Innovation Series: A start-up science story

The LBS Innovation Series brings you a presentation by Antonio Palanca, CEO and Co-founder of the HiveXchange. Antonio presents a case study on the HiveXchange and talks about fresh innovations in traditional food supply chains.

 

HiveXchange

HiveXchange has created a new form of business to business e-commerce called trust-based e-commerce which is designed specifically to meet the challenges in perishable produce supply chains. Antonio mentions that organisations over a 20 year period have tried to introduce online buying models into the fresh produce supply chains but have failed.

 

Lean canvas

Antonio was formerly with Sun Microsystems where they used WaterFall project methods to launch big technology projects. He talks about this experience and how it taught him that this old approach to software design of define requirements, design, build, test, and launch was no longer viable. Instead the HiveXchange embarked on the use of ‘start-up science’ and the lean canvas. He describes the company’s journey and how the use of lean canvas methodology shaped field experiments and prototypes to reveal problems early. This became the foundation of HiveXchange’s trust based e-commerce software. The benefit of this approach is that as you go through the stages you reduce risk and therefore become more attractive to investors.

 

Watch his story below:

 

This blog is part of the LBS Innovation Series, developed by Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics in the La Trobe Business School. The series was developed after the successful National Innovation Forum organised by La Trobe Business School, NORTH Link and Deloitte Consulting P/L.

More blogs in the LBS Innovation Series:

Why data is the new oil

With billions of connected devices sharing info from all around the world, data has well and truly become a red-hot resource. But how can we sift through the incomprehensible amount now available and actually put it to good use? That’s where a business analyst comes in.

Former software developer Mahesh Krishnan had a natural flair for finding patterns in data, which he was keen to explore further. Now in the final semester of a Master of Business Analytics degree at La Trobe Business School, Mahesh chatted to us about why he decided to shift career paths and what he loves about plucking out data insights to help businesses grow.

 

 

LBS’ Master of Business Analytics

My work at my previous employer in India involved a lot of data. This led me to analysing customer information, which helped me realise that I had a natural sense for understanding hidden patterns in data and deriving insights that would help businesses drive growth. I found this interesting and decided to do a course that would help me fortify my analytical skills by learning different analysis methods.

The Master of Business Analytics at LBS attracted me because of its highly experienced teaching faculty and the curriculum of study. It offers the right mix of technical and business skills, which are highly valued in the global market.

 

The course coordinator, Associate Professor Dr Kok-Leong Ong, has been a mentor and role model. He has extensive teaching and professional experience in the sector and is welcoming and down-to-earth.

 

What I like about Business Analytics is the fact that it makes use of the plethora of data at the disposal of an organisation and produces valuable insights. These insights help the business to reap rewards in terms of spiking profits and huge market shares.

 

Visualising data

As the saying goes, ‘data is the new oil’. Business analytics blends the technical aspect of statistical evidence with the business aspect of converting these insights into easily interpretable business terms. An analyst who is technically sound, but unable to convey the message to the business in a way they understand, isn’t useful to an organisation.

 

 

The course has taught me ways to gather data, wrangle it and visualise the insights.

Extracted data isn’t always ready for analysis, so data wrangling becomes one of the most important steps to learn. Data visualisation is also an important skill. Generating insights alone does not benefit an organisation if they can’t be visualised. Numbers in a table look better in visuals because they can then be more easily understood. With so many graphs to choose from, selecting the right graph for a particular dataset is really important. It goes a long way in delivering the right message to the business.

 

With a plethora of data being stocked up by organisations and a rising demand for analytics to drive business growth, there is no better time to pursue a Master of Business Analytics at La Trobe Business School.

 

Internships

The course assignments I’ve done have helped me work effectively during my internships.

I’ve undertaken a one-month internship with the Victorian State Government, a three-month internship with ME Bank in Melbourne, and as part of my final semester I am interning with Moreland City Council as a data analyst. My work at Moreland City Council requires me to extract data from different sources, then align the data to make it ready for analysis. This data can be used to generate insights about businesses in Moreland and suburban growth in its suburbs can be generated to benefit the council’s Economic Development team.

I have secured a full-time role as an associate consultant at Servian, a leading data analytics consultancy based in Melbourne. The skills I have learned through my course will be of great use.

 

 

This blog post was originally published on NEST. Read the original article.

LBS Innovation Series: Universities’ engagement with industry

Australia must get better at creating meaningful collaboration between universities and business. The Federal Government flagged innovation in Australia as a major policy focus with its $1.1 billion National Science and Innovation Agenda in November 2015.

Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics in the La Trobe Business School, shares his thoughts on creating meaningful collaboration between universities and business.

 

Bringing industry into the classroom

One way La Trobe Business School is working towards better engagement with industry is through hiring Professors of Practice. A concept born out of the school’s strategic decision to adopt an approach focused on bringing industry into the classroom. Professors of Practice, such as myself, are experienced practitioners in a relevant field of professional practice. We teach subjects and courses that provide a high quality and industry relevant learning experience.

Before I joined LBS, I was the Senior Executive Officer responsible for enterprises management, business planning, audit and protective security in the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water. My experience leads me to be able to develop innovative teaching programs in the economics discipline and risk management practice that enhance the student learning experience, and enhance their career-readiness.

 

Bringing research into the market

Besides bringing industry experience into the classroom, we also build relationships by organising events where academia and industry can come together. The National Innovation Forum organised by La Trobe business School, NORTH Link and Deloitte Consulting P/L is a great example of such an event. More than 90 business, local government, academic and industry group representatives from Australia and internationally discussing the question:

 

How can we create sustainable bonds between universities, business and not for profits with a view towards creating a more mature innovation culture and ecosystem?

 

The discussions on strengthening collaboration are centred on maintaining industry-university connections and relationships through regular engagement and dialogue and the use of accelerators and incubators. Thus, universities need to create open collaborative spaces and networks with industry where there is potential to commercialise ideas.

This implies that each side needs to engage far beyond the traditional exchange of research for funding model. The implication is that we need strategic partnerships that better blend the research-driven culture of the university with the innovation/data-driven environment of business.

What more can universities do?

Forum delegate discussions and feedback show that some of the key points universities could consider in enhancing their engagement with industry are:

  • Streamline the decision making processes in terms of entering into collaborative arrangements with industry i.e. make it easier and break down barriers.
  • Changing the incentive system for academics to be equally rewarded for their industry engagement/collaboration as they are for their research.
  • Focus on talking the same language as industry (i.e. business practice) rather than academic theory (shaped by the need to publish).
  • Have a clear path of entry and handling strategy for business’ seeking collaboration opportunities.
  • Hold regular events that give business an opportunity to access and learn about its research and R&D activities.
  • Facilitate more frequent industry engagement/dialogue including events such as the National Innovation Forum which begin to bridge the gaps.
  • Introduce staff industry placements/secondments.
  • Work with industry on developing work-in-learning opportunities to develop more business ready graduates.
  • Establish quicker processes for changing curriculum and subject offering in response to industry need and the changing nature of work.
  • Offer all students opportunity to learn entrepreneurial skills i.e. to nurture start-ups and innovation.

La Trobe University, and La Trobe Business School, are already very active in many of these areas (e.g. La Trobe Accelerator Program; Professors of Practice, Work Integrated Learning and Placements; Industry and Community Engagement; Research and Innovation Precinct etc.) but we can always strive to do better.

 

Read the full NIF 17 Summary Report

  

This blog is part of the LBS Innovation Series, developed by Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics in the La Trobe Business School. The series was developed after the successful National Innovation Forum organised by La Trobe Business School, NORTH Link and Deloitte Consulting P/L.

More blogs in the LBS Innovation Series:

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