Business Newsroom

La Trobe Business School

Month: February 2019

LBS Innovation Series: Building a global business in a period of disruption

The first video of the 2019 LBS Innovation Series is by James Fazzino who gives a presentation on how the company he lead, Incitec Pivot, strategically responded to digital disruption in its core businesses.

About James

James is a La Trobe alumnus, holding a Bachelor of Economics (Honours) from the University, he is an Adjunct Professor in the La Trobe Business School and a Vice Chancellor’s Fellow. James was honoured with the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2018. He is a respected ASX 50 business leader and currently the Chair of Manufacturing Australia.

James has had a successful career in the international chemicals industry after concluding a highly successful eight-year term as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Incitec Pivot Limited. He also served as the Chief Financial Officer and Finance Director at Incitec and had senior finance roles in ICI/Orica including CFO Chemicals Group, Assistant Treasurer and Head of Investor Relations.

Incitec Pivot Limited

Under James’ leadership, Incitec transformed from a fertiliser co-operative, operating in four Australian states with an enterprise value of $400 million, to a Global Diversified Industrial Chemicals company, operating in 13 countries and with an enterprise value of $8 billion. Incitec is now the world’s second largest supplier of commercial explosives and Australia’s largest manufacturer and supplier of fertilisers.

Responding to digital disruption

James provides a case study in management on how the company grew from a southern Australian fertiliser co-op to a global ASX 50 diversified industrial chemicals and fertiliser company over 14 years. Industrial chemicals and fertilisers are key inputs to soil health and nutritional needs, helping food producers maximise productivity and remain globally competitive. James elaborates on Incitec Pivot’s strategic journey and describes how his executive team drove a ‘gap to perfect’ strategy across the business – where any identified gaps (against international best practice) meet with goals and actions to improve daily performance.



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.

More blogs in the LBS Innovation Series:

An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals

You’ve probably heard about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in your work and across the media. They are a collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, which they hope will be achieved by 2030.  These goals are a call for action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity and overall transformative action towards sustainability.

Attainment of the goals within the timeframe (by 2030) necessitates urgent, innovative, and far-reaching action from different actors – business, states, civil society, and individual citizens. As insurmountable as they may seem, they present a huge opportunity for all the actors to rethink business, development and growth and stead us all towards sustainable and inclusive world.

2018 PRME report analysis

In our role as a PRME Champion Institution, LBS has committed to embedding the SDGs into our research, teaching, partnerships and operations. In our 2018 PRME report, we undertook and analysis of LBS research outputs and found that 34% of our research is aligned with at least one of the 17 SDGs. In our analysis, we also identified the achievements, research projects and other activities LBS is involved with that are linked to the SDGs. These linkages are created through efforts including informing our understanding of the SDGs, and contributing to the development of solutions in achieving the SDGs.

Outlined below are some examples of significant activities being undertaken by LBS and LTU, linked to the 17 SDGs:

A full overview of activities can be found on pages 46 – 48 of the 2018 PRME report.

Seventh CR3+ conference

As part of our broader commitment to PRME and the SDGs, we are hosting the 7th CR3+ conference on the topic ‘Using dialogue to build partnerships for sustainability’ from the 24th to 25th October 2019.

The conference is being hosted in conjunction with our CR3+ partners – Audencia Business School (France), Hanken School of Economics (Finland) and ISAE Brazilian Business School (Brazil). The call for papers has been circulated, and we encourage you to submit a paper to the conference. The call for papers can be found here.

SDGs Series

In addition to the conference, all CR3+ partners have collaborated on a series of videos on the SDGs, bringing their unique geographical and business perspectives in developing content for four of the SDGs each. The objectives of the videos are to:

  • Introduce the Agenda 2030 framework and Sustainable Development Goals (along with insight into concepts and history of sustainable development).
  • Explain all 17 SDGs and their targets.
  • Present real-life cases demonstrating contribution towards different SDGs in different geographical regions.
  • Critical perspectives on the SDGs.

We have developed a blog series where we will highlight one Sustainable Development Goal every fortnight based on the videos in the lead up to the CR3+ conference in October. Watch this space for the first upcoming video!

If you like to know more about LBS’ involvement with PRME, please read our blog from earlier this year: LBS’ United Nations PRME commitments, or contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

La Trobe MBA – Practical consulting skills for the future

La Trobe’s MBA students gain practical experience, deeper perspectives on business challenges and valuable contacts through a new subject that was launched in July 2018.

The Business School worked with local economic development organisation NORTH Link and other partners to identify businesses in Melbourne’s north that would benefit from a semester-long MBA consultancy. The result was a broad range of projects that will make a positive impact and directly benefit priority industry sectors in the region.

Dr Geraldine Kennett, MBA director and subject coordinator, explained that the subject has a positive impact on both students and businesses.

“Companies in our region get real assistance in solving a business challenge, which contributes to local economic development. At the same time, our MBA students use their expertise to gain real-world consultancy experience, with individual mentoring from their lecturers throughout the project. It’s a genuine win–win.”

 

 

MBA student Abdul Majeed Mohammed undertook a consultancy with the Brunswick Business Incubator (BBI), which provides premises, advice, services and support to new and emerging businesses. His client needed a marketing campaign. Abdul worked on the premises one day a week, got to know the tenant businesses and produced a detailed report that included recommendations on how BBI could remain self-sustainable in the future.

 

 

“The project gave me a unique opportunity, because you don’t normally get to do an internship in consulting. People don’t open their business to you so you can practise,” said Abdul.

“With this subject I learned a lot – how to write a consulting report was a challenge at first – and I learned how to operate on a tight timeline.Ultimately, I hope my recommendations help the incubator to succeed and grow long term. The subject was definitely a great experience.”

Abdul was invited to present his report to the BBI Board of Directors, leading to him making valuable contacts in his career field.

This new subject is a great example of how the La Trobe MBA assists students to accelerate their careers through a practical, industry-focused approach.

LBS Innovation Series: GAPs to perfection

Welcome back to the LBS Innovation Series, developed in 2018 by Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics at the La Trobe Business School. We kick-off this year’s series with a Summary Report by Mark discussing the key take-aways from the LBS/NORTHLink Innovation in Food and Agribusiness Forum. Please access the full report below.

LBS Innovation Series

The LBS Innovation Series is based on the annual LBS forums that promote two-way knowledge transfer and opportunities for direct dialogue between cutting science and technology researches and business leaders. The LBS Forums provide insights as to how La Trobe University can contribute to best help businesses to innovate and deal with disruption.

2017 NIF

In 2018, the LBS Innovation Series explored how to create sustainable bonds between universities and industry with a view towards creating a more mature innovation culture and ecosystem. The blogs were based on the successful LBS/NORTHLink National Innovation Forum (NIF) held at the end of 2017. More information and last year’s blogs on this event can be found here.

2018 IFAF

In 2019, the LBS Innovation Series will focus on innovation in the food production and agribusiness sector in Australia. The blogs are based on the successful LBS/NORTHLink Innovation in Food and Agribusiness Forum (IFAF), held at the end of 2018. We explore the role innovation plays in food production and agribusiness and how to succeed globally in an era of increased disruption.

Introduction to the 2019 LBS Innovation Series

In the video below, Mark gives an overview of the LBS/NORTHLink Innovation in Food and Agribusiness Forum and provides an introduction to the 2019 LBS Innovation Series.

Challenges and gaps for Australian food and agribusiness

The overall discussion during the 2018 forum was very positive in terms of the opportunities for Australian food and agribusiness to meet increasing global demand for food and fibre. However, several challenges and gaps were noted that need to be addressed to maximise the sector’s productivity potential.

The gaps include:

  • Gap to Perfect’ – that is driving strategic management of firms to address the gaps between Australian business performance across the value chain and international best business practice.

  • Gaps between farm technology (farmers and their ‘ecosystem’) and the investment and finance community, tech developers, urban based research institutions and the agri-political community.

  • Gaps between agriculture and health scientists and researchers.

  • Gaps in youth education and training for this sector (i.e. data analytics, AgTech, robotics, computer and science literacy).

  • Gaps in expectations across customers (demand), producers (supply) and researchers (R&D).

  • Gaps in telecommunications and transport infrastructure holding back agriculture’s supply chain productivity.

  • Gaps in accurate data and agronomic insights for forecasting and risk assessment.

  • Gaps in the application of vision assisted capability in farm and manufacturing robotics.

  • Gaps in Australia’s current AgTech and agricultural science research funding models.

  • Gaps in the use of agriculture big data use driven by legal, privacy and cultural concerns.

The generally agreed view by delegates and speakers at the forum was that these gaps are not insurmountable but in the Australian context require greater private and public collaboration and investment to effectively bridge.

We will present each of the speaker presentations at the 2018 IFAF as part of the LBS Innovation Series throughout 2019.

Dr Mark Cloney is Professor of Practice in economics at LBS. Prior to joining La Trobe University, Mark was the Senior Executive Service officer responsible for enterprises risk management, business planning, audit and protective security in the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water. Mark teaches in the economics discipline in which he holds a PhD and in risk management practice.

Applying agricultural and management skills through an internship at BASF

Emily Clymo, an agribusiness student from Bendigo, was selected for an internship at BASF at their Mt Gambier site. BASF is the largest chemicals producer in the world focusing on creating chemistry for a sustainable future. Not only was it a paid internship, BASF also provided Emily with accommodation and a work vehicle during her stay at Mt Gambier. LBS Newsroom sat down with Emily to hear more about her internship experience.

Emily on site at Mt Gambier

Congratulations on getting selected and then successfully completing the internship! Could you tell us a bit more about yourself?

Growing up in a farming community I had always had a keen interest in the agriculture sector, coupled with an interest in business lead me to begin studying the agribusiness degree at La Trobe in 2017. Shortly thereafter I was giving the opportunity to work as a student ambassador for the university providing information to potential future students about life at La Trobe and more specifically about the agribusiness degree. This gave me the opportunity to represent La Trobe at the Australian Sheep & Wool Show in both 2017 and 2018. This began to open my eyes as to the vast job prospects available, developing a keen interest to understand the various application of agribusiness to all areas of agriculture after growing up in a predominately dairy farming town.

The position for the BASF internship was offered to all agricultural science and agribusiness students and I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to undertake the 14-week summer program breeding hybrid canola.

What did you have to do to get an internship?

To get the internship at BASF I was required to submit a cover letter outlining my suitability to the position and a resume. The candidates were then shortlisted and interview times for the following week were arranged. A formal interview took place at the La Trobe University campus in Bundoora. I received a phone call in the following weeks to inform me that I had been successful in attaining the internship. 

What did the internship involve?

The internship was in Mount Gambier, South Australia, working on canola breeding sites to produce experimental hybrid canola lines for Australian and Canadian breeding programs. I worked alongside field agronomists to learn the process of growing unique hybrid canola that has the potential to be released into the commercial market if proven to be successful in further trials. It was a very hands-on internship involving seeding, crop care and site maintenance, erecting pollination tents, handling pollinators (flies and bees), harvest and the supervising of casual labour workers.

How did the internship enrich your student experience?

The internship has enabled me to gain an understanding of real-world application of agricultural and management skills learnt in the agribusiness degree. It has allowed me ‘test out’ the industry and determine if it is the best fit for me going into the future and expand my knowledge as to the available positions within the agriculture and agribusiness sectors. BASF has provided me with a large range of networking opportunities working with professionals from the Canadian breeding program increasing my connections not only nationally but internationally within the organisation.

My student experience at LTU has been enriched by having a practical knowledge of the industry to support the theory learnt at La Trobe. The internship has provided me with more clarity going into the future about which subjects I should enrol in to learn the necessary skills that are required to succeed in the agribusiness industry. Undertaking the BASF internship program has complimented my studies at La Trobe to build a competitive advantage and a solid foundation to develop a career in the industry.

What is your next step study/career-wise?

Going into the future I still have one remaining year of my agribusiness degree, which I will complete at the Bendigo campus. Once I have graduated from the degree I’m currently looking into various graduate programs within the industry to continue gaining a greater understanding of all areas within agribusiness to expand my knowledge and career options.

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