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La Trobe Business School

Month: November 2017

Watch: What failure can teach you

This article was first published on Nest, a haven of new ideas for people who are all kinds of clever. Read the original article.

Being able to bounce back after failure, learn from your mistakes and forge ahead with resilience are vital skills both in and out of the workplace. According to one survey, 91 per cent of HR decision-makers predict that resilience will be key to employability in the next few years.

For Michelle Gallaher, La Trobe alumnus and 2017 Telstra Victorian Business Woman of the Year, failing is one of the most important things you can do. Watch our video to find out what Michelle learned from failing her first degree, and what failure can teach you.

Develop your resilience through La Trobe’s Career Ready Advantage program.

Watch: How solving social problems can inspire your business career

This article was first published on Nest, a haven of new ideas for people who are all kinds of clever. Read the original article.

Amid claims that narcissism is on the rise, the ability to practise empathy is fast becoming a stand-out career skill. And according to Rafiuddin Ahmed, a PhD candidate researching social business and innovation at La Trobe University, it’s a skill you’re never too young to learn.

In partnership with his supervisor, Professor Gillian Sullivan Mort, Rafiuddin has founded a start-up to teach social entrepreneurship to children aged 8–12. The weekly lessons combine ‘active compassion’ with basic business marketing. Children are introduced to social issues, like poverty in other parts of the world, and learn how to do something practical in response to the moral outrage they feel.

If you’re passionate about making a positive social impact through your career, watch our video to discover how social business has inspired Rafiuddin to become an ethical entrepreneur.

Start your social business with a Master of Management (Entrepreneurship and Innovation) at La Trobe University.

LBS School Manager Donna Burnett receives 2017 Award for Excellence in School and Faculty Management!

By Donna Burnett

The ATEM Best Practice Awards for 2017 was held at the Arts Centre, with over 150 staff from Tertiary institutions throughout Aus and NZ.
Recognising professional management and administration in the Tertiary Education sector is fundamentally important not only to the staff recognised, but to the industry as a whole.

Whilst ATEM has worked extremely hard for 41 years to promote a culture where professional managers work to partner academics in the education enterprise, Universities in general still have a long way to go to achieve the same goal.

This award has sought to show that we are equal partners in the profession.

I have received an incredible amount of support from the Leadership team within the LBS and support from Managers within the College. This support has enabled me to grow and flourish in my role and has treated me as an equal partner in the operations of a large and multidisciplinary school.

Working together without hierarchical boundaries has enabled effective School Management, but has also broken down many barriers and allowed professional staff to have a voice in an Academic world.

 

To see is to believe, and to believe is to see. Malcom Roberts’s recent citizenship troubles betray his double standards.

LBS Business School Lecturer in Management Dr Angela McCabe and Dr Tom Osegowitsch from the University of Melbourne have published an article in Crikey contrasting the standards of evidence demanded of scientists by populist politicians, and those they adopt for themselves.

Read the original article on Crikey, here.

“Malcolm, you are hearing the interpretation of a highly qualified scientist and you’re saying, “I don’t believe that” — is that right?” an incredulous Tony Jones asked of former One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts during a recent Q&A episode. The senator had demanded incontrovertible proof of anthropogenic climate change from fellow panellist Professor Brian Cox, and made wild allegations about evidence having been manipulated by NASA, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology and others.

Last Friday the High court declared five current senators ineligible to sit in the Australian parliament. Among them was Malcolm Roberts, who came in for particular criticism.

The former senator’s citizenship evidence to the court was summarily rejected. He was chastised by Justice Patrick Keane for his “reliance on his highly subjective appreciation of the importance of commonplace incidents of his familial experience”.

Specifically, the ruling highlights that “there was no rational basis for the belief that he was always and only an Australian citizen. The absence of any rational basis in fact for that belief meant that Senator Roberts was driven to support his position by reliance on his highly subjective appreciation of the importance of commonplace incidents of his familial experience.” Crucially “Senator Roberts equates feelings of Australian self-identification with citizenship, and so confuses notions of how a person sees oneself with an understanding of how one’s national community sees an individual who claims to be legally entitled to be accepted as a member of that community.”

His own barrister, Robert Newlinds, said of Senator Roberts that “He’s talked himself into a different belief about that [his possible UK citizenship].

The former senator has made a name for himself challenging scientists and scientific institutions. Ostensibly he was holding them to a higher standard of evidence, although the same rigour clearly did not apply to his own, personal situation.

For years, Malcolm Roberts has been bombarding scientific institutions, individual scientists as well as journalists and parliamentarians with strong claims rejecting climate change research. He has also made severe allegations of scientific misconduct against individual scientists, which have been dismissed after due consideration.

Roberts routinely challenges climate change scientists to produce “any empirical evidence”, defined as “observations in the real world, it’s measured real world data.” When challenged by scientists such as Brian Cox insisting that there is strong empirical evidence, most prominently global warming trends, Roberts likes to maintain that the data are manipulated, by NASA and the Bureau of Meteorology, abetted by the political establishment.

Robert also criticises existing climate models, questioning their projections. These “models have already been proven to be inaccurate and the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has recognised that and admitted it.” Yet climate change predictions have worked well, tracking overall climate trends.

At the heart of his rejection of the science establishment and its conclusions lies a vast climate change conspiracy, aided by both major parties as well as the Greens, reaching for “massive over-government” (p.132). Not confined to Australia, “The UN, on behalf of international bankers, wants to end national sovereignty and individual freedom (p.134) As a result, “People in developed nations are being enslaved to international banks.” (p.133)

The denialist traits in Robert’s thinking have previously been document. The cherry-picking of evidence, the impossible expectations raised (for instance in terms of predictive accuracy and scientific consensus), and the underlying conspiracy theories are just some of the hallmarks of denialism.

Similar to democratic politics, science can experience gridlock, detours and errors. Progress often is painstakingly slow. In recent times we have also become aware of a number of serious shortcomings in the scientific process.

In modern science, the process for establishing valid knowledge, or rather knowledge “warranting belief”, hinges on peer review and professional reputation. In recent times, the process has come in for sharp criticism on account of a number of practices undermining scholarship.

The pressure on academics to publish (“publish or perish” in the vernacular) makes them more reliant on the scientific institutions and their gatekeepers, such as journal reviewers, editors and tenure committees. These then direct researchers by effectively sanctioning the acceptable (and therefore permissable) research methods, research questions and available data.

The pressure to publish in order to secure tenure and promotion may also lead to an inflation of “Type 1 errors”. A Type I error (also known as a “false positive”) is the mistake of erroneously believing something to be true when it is not. Scientific journals tend to cherish surprising results. As a result, scientists may test more frequently for contrarian hypotheses and produce more (erroneous) chance results. As reported by Scientific American magazine a number of fields of scientific endeavour may be plagued by a significant proportion of false positives and exaggerated results.

Equally concerning, studies that fail to find novel results may not even be reported by the authors, effectively censoring the publicly reported evidence. A variety of fields such as medicine and psychology have in recent years been hit by an apparent crisis of reproducibility and experts have pointed to the elevation of a disproportionate number of false discoveries.

In the social sciences, some of these biases and problems may be even more egregious than in the natural sciences.

Overall, such institutional biases are casting a shadow over science, slowing scientific progress. But scientists are increasingly aware of these issues and gradually the scientific process is responding. Initiatives such as the appearance of ‘minimal threshold journals’ and article retractions or campaigns to report all trials and results attest to the (albeit slow) self-correcting capacity of science.

Scientific knowledge is sometimes characterised as “warranted belief”. But what exactly warrants belief? What constitutes valid knowledge? How do we believe in the authority of a particular theory, given that few of us, even scientists, are in a position to verify them independently? We do so by trusting in the institutions tasked with producing valid representations of the world around us.

In light of the inevitable shortcomings of the scientific process, the scientific community as well as the wider community need to maintain a healthy degree of scepticism about scientific findings and scientific evidence. But scepticism can sometimes degenerate into paranoid denialism. Seemingly “common sense” explanations, or conspiracies can provide a degree or comfort when complex and less-than-perfect expert opinion abound.

In the word of philosopher Brian Keeley “Social trust is fundamental in making scientific knowledge possible. Without social trust — not blind, unwarranted trust, but trust, nonetheless — […] scientific progress screech[es] to a halt.”

Like democracy, science, and the scientific process, are flawed. But they are still preferable to all the other forms of generating valid knowledge that have been tried, including Malcolm Robert’s.

Want a robot-proof career? Become a social entrepreneur.

This article was first published on Nest, a haven of new ideas for people who are all kinds of clever. Read the original article.

The chance that your job will be impacted by robots is fast becoming reality. Swift advances in technology are changing the labour market and almost half of Australia’s jobs are at high risk of being affected by automation. So how can you prepare?

Futurists believe that robot-resilient careers will rely on human-centred skills like empathy, creativity and building complex relationships with people. These skills are often associated with caring professions, but they’re also core to social entrepreneurship – an ethical approach to business that maximises profit while achieving social goals.

We spoke with social entrepreneurs Rafiuddin Ahmed (Rafi) and Professor Gillian Sullivan Mort, who lead La Trobe’s Yunus Social Business Centre, about how to turn a social business idea into a clever career for you, and for others.

Find the social problem you most want to solve

Like all innovators, social entrepreneurs start with an inspiring business idea. What makes it ‘social’ is its aim: to solve a social problem.

“If you start any social business, then you’re employing yourself, you’re solving some sort of social problem, and you’re engaging others as well,” Rafi says.

Rafi’s chosen social problem is unemployment. According to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, 470 million jobs are needed globally for people entering the labour market between 2016 and 2030.

If everyone follows the motto ‘I’ll be a job seeker’, then who will actually create these jobs? Rather than waiting for someone to provide for a job for you, you can create them,” he says.

Develop an entrepreneurial mindset

Inquisitiveness, optimism and the flexibility to bounce back from failure are all characteristics of an entrepreneurial mindset. As a social entrepreneur, using these skills can give your social start-up the best chance of success.

Rafi applied them to finding the ideal audience for his PhD project, which aims to build a new generation of young social entrepreneurs in Australia. Initially he’d planned to teach social entrepreneurship to university students. But this changed when he realised children of primary school-age were less busy, less cynical and more open to having fun with the entrepreneurship curriculum.

In response, he and Gillian founded a social business start-up called Innokids to teach social entrepreneurship skills to children aged 8-12 years. They launched their idea at Bundoora Primary School in 2016, training grades five and six students for one hour each week.

“It’s a good thing to set up with this age group. The kids can choose to solve any social problem that challenges them. It opens up higher-level thinking by asking ‘What can we do about this?’ and it allows them to develop their maths skills in an extended problem-solving format,” says Gillian.

As part of social entrepreneurship lessons, Bundoora Primary School students learned to make and sell products and donate a share of their profits to a school in Indonesia. Image credit: Rafiuddin Ahmed.

With Innokids’ training, Bundoora Primary School students generated $2,500 profit by making bird feeders and selling them at local markets. They gave 50 per cent of this profit to an Indonesian primary school, which was used to buy wheelchairs for students with a disability. This combination of empathy and business is core to Innokids’ curriculum.

For Rafi, adjusting his social business idea to meet the needs of a different audience has opened up vast possibilities.

“It really works, so we’re trying to extend it to have a larger social impact. We want to expand Innokids to regional Victoria, then roll out to other parts of Australia. And our future plan is a ‘school in the cloud’ where, instead of coming to us, our school can go to others via online.”

Tap into start-up funding and mentoring

Like any entrepreneur, you’ll need help to accelerate your social start-up. Universities play a growing role in upskilling entrepreneurs – around one in five start-up founders have benefited from an accelerator or incubator program, over 100 of which are on offer at Australian universities.

Rafi and Gillian leveraged the La Trobe Accelerator Program (LTAP), a 12-week intensive that gives you up to $20,000 funding (equity-free) to fast-track your business idea, plus access to mentors, resources and workshops to help you get to market. The program has helped Innokids create a market strategy, connect with primary school leaders and education decision-makers, and pursue a lean start-up business model.

La Trobe’s Professor Gillian Sullivan Mort, Bundoora Labor MP Colin Brooks, Bundoora Primary School Principal Ms Lee Pollard, and PhD candidate Rafiuddin Ahmed.

Rafi also recommends La Trobe students apply for the Hult Prize, a global platform where university students can create and launch for-good, for-profit start-ups with the help of an annual $1,000,000 prize. To kick-start social businesses at La Trobe, he and Gillian are offering help and advice to interested students.

“As Professor Dr Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, says: ‘I believe everyone is a born entrepreneur’. You just need to find out who you are and what the opportunity is within you,” Rafi says.

If you have an idea, come to Yunus Social Business Centre to fine-tune it. The initiative shouldn’t come only from Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk – it should come from you as well.”

Whether it’s your sole income or a side hack, becoming a social entrepreneur is a great way to unleash your ideas to help others and create a positive impact beyond your business bank account.

Save your career from robots with a Master of Management (Entrepreneurship and Innovation) at La Trobe University.

LBS alumni event a huge success!

On 25 October, La Trobe Business School welcomed Dr Fiona McKenzie from the Australian Futures Project for the school’s annual Alumni Event.

Dr Fiona McKenzie was welcomed by La Trobe Business School’s Head of School, Professor Paul Mather. Event attendees included LBS alumni, university and industry stakeholders.

In her speech, Dr Fiona McKenzie spoke about how businesses today are influenced by massive digital disruption and are taking the opportunity to expand globally. This trend has often caused businesses process transform and jobs performed by people to be redefined.

La Trobe Business School would like to thank Dr Fiona McKenzie for attending!

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