La Trobe Business School

Month: May 2019

Meet the Head of Department of Management, Sport and Tourism

Dr Nicola McNeil has been the Head of Department of Management, Sport & Tourism (MST) since earlier this year. Business Newsroom sat down with Nicola to ask her some questions about what her previous roles were at LTU, her new role and other interesting facts about her.

Dr Nicola McNeil

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

I always wanted to be a solicitor and loved studying law, but I ended up not enjoying practicing law. I was fortunate that one of my Professors who taught me in my undergrad degree took me on as a Research Assistant and later as a Research Fellow, so I sort of fell into academia by accident. I realised I had a passion for research and really enjoyed teaching. I worked at Monash and Deakin before coming to La Trobe University. I have been here now for eleven years.

So how did you transition from Law to Human Resource Management?

My experience in employer relations fits really well in the HR discipline.

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

In my various roles within the SchooI, I have gained a lot of insights into how the University works. This allows me to not only focus on what we do as a Department but also see what we do in the greater scheme of things, aligning our activities to the LTU and LBS strategy.

Looking at the MST Department itself, we are unique, as we have a high proportion of staff that are in the early stages of their academic careers. Besides supporting our experienced staff, I want to especially focus on providing support to our early career teachers and researchers by actively engaging them, starting dialogues with senior staff and helping mentor them to kickstart their careers.

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

It’s okay to fail. I was a bit of a perfectionist when I was younger, which was at times quite stressful. Now I realise it’s okay to make mistakes or have things turn out differently than expected, as long as you learn from it. I also think it is really important to learn how to turn bad situations around, and always find a positive takeaway. If I had known that when I was younger, I would have been less of a stress-head.

What do you do to get rid of stress?

I take my dogs for a walk, or play the piano.

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

I’m a cricket tragic and a Melbourne Storm fanatic, so you can always talk to me about cricket or rugby!  However, a simple “how’s it going” will get me engaged in a conversation too.

Nicola is currently working on several research projects in the areas of gender and work, work-life balance and the impact of high-performance work practices on employee wellbeing. She has received research grants and consultancies from the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Australian Federal Government, VicHealth, industry partners and not-for-profit organisations. 
Nicola is a leading educator and teaches classes in employment relations, human resource management and research methods to undergraduate and postgraduate students, and supervises several PhD and Honours students. Nicola is also an instructor for the Australian Consortium of Social and Political Research Inc (ACSPRI) and offers courses on the use of computer-assisted qualitative data analysis and mixed methods research.

SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 6

Sustainable Development Goal 6

Having clean water isn’t something we often have to think about in Australia. We have always expected clean water to be provided by our cities. Something that we don’t often realise is that there is a global water crisis happening in most countries around the world.

The facts

Many people still lack access to safely managed water supplies and sanitation facilities. Ensuring universal safe and affordable drinking water involves reaching over 800 million people who lack basic services and improving accessibility and safety of services for over two billion. In addition, water scarcity, flooding and lack of proper wastewater management hinder social and economic development. Some numbers:

  • In 2015, 29 per cent of the global population lacked safely managed drinking water supplies, and 61 per cent were without safely managed sanitation services.  In 2015, 892 million people continued to practise open defecation.

  • In 2015, only 27 per cent of the population in least developed countries (LDCs) had basic handwashing facilities.

  • More than 2 billion people globally are living in countries with excess water stress, defined as the ratio of total freshwater withdrawn to total renewable freshwater resources above a threshold of 25 per cent. Northern Africa and Western Asia experience water stress levels above 60 per cent, which indicates the strong probability of future water scarcity.

  • In 22 countries, mostly in the Northern Africa and Western Asia region and in the Central and Southern Asia region, the water stress level is above 70 per cent, indicating the strong probability of future water scarcity.

  • By 2050, it is projected that at least one in four people will suffer recurring water shortages.

Increasing water efficiency and improving water management are critical to balancing the competing and growing water demands from various sectors and users (The Sustainable Development Goals Report, 2018).

The focus of SDG 6

Progress in nutrition, health, education, work, equality, environmental protection and international cooperation are all related to the availability and sustainable management of water and universal access to effective systems for disposing of our waste. The first two targets of Sustainable Development Goal 6 encompass the core focus on water, sanitation and hygiene. Targets also include water provision beyond human use and interaction, and towards structural, ecosystem and governance needs regarding water management. At the same time, demand for water – from agriculture and industry as well as domestic use – is rapidly rising and water pollution and ecosystem degradation are being made worse by increasing amounts of untreated wastewater. And all of this is happening against a backdrop of climate change, which is playing havoc with the predictability of our most precious resource (UN Water 2018).

Leaving no one behind – Indigenous Australians and SDG 6

Despite Australia meeting the targets of this development goal, why do health issues related to water and sanitation continue to persist among remote indigenous Australian communities?

While the majority of Australians have access to safe drinking water, for many remote indigenous communities, the water supplies are unacceptable. In Western Australia, only 19% of remote Indigenous communities reported 100% microbiological compliance between 2012 and 2014. One in five of these communities also reported unsafe levels for nitrates or uranium.  For example, Trachoma is a bacterial infection associated with extreme poverty and generally occurs in areas with water scarcity, inadequate sanitation, and overcrowding. In 2016, trachoma was reported in indigenous communities in NSW, SA, WA and the NT, where 4.7% of children aged 5–9 years were estimated to have active trachoma (Transforming Australia Report, 2018). Research recommends that multifaceted health promotion interventions are the most likely to improve water-related health outcomes in these communities. This includes encouraging behaviour change, infrastructure maintenance, and a broad program targeting sanitation, nutrition, education and primary health care (UQ Global Change Institute, 2017).

SDG Video

The video on SDG 6 is created by our CR3+ partner ISAE Brazilian Business School (ISAE). Representatives of the university visited Sanipar, one of the largest sanitation companies in the country, and interviewed Prof Norman de Paula Arruda Filho, President of both Sanepar and ISAE Business School. Sanepar’s goal is to achieve universal environmental sanitation, completing the “river to river” cycle. The company defines itself as an environmental company; working toward the conservation of nature and prioritising sustainability (Sanepar Annual Report, 2018). In this video, Norman gives his view on sustainable development goal six, using the Iguaçu River in the state Parana as an example. He talks about the residential use of the river, the industrial use (mainly for generating energy), but also how the river is important for tourism. He emphasises the importance of education regarding the use of the river’s water and the need to collaborate on the access to waterways such as the Iguaçu River.

Please enjoy the presentation.

If you would like access to the full video to use in your teaching, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019.

More blogs in the SDG Series:
- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 4
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 5

LBS Adjunct Professor Stuart Kells wins Ashurst prize for book on the big four

Stuart Kells, adjunct professor at La Trobe Business School, and Ian Gow, professor at Melbourne University, have won the 2018 Ashurst Business Literature Prize. Stuart accepted the Prize from keynote speaker Jillian Broadbent AC, Chancellor of the University of Wollongong, at the Awards dinner at Ashurst last week in Sydney.

The Prize

The Ashurst Business Literature Prize is an annual award (worth A$30,000) established to encourage and recognise the highest standards of literary commentary on Australian business and financial affairs. The Prize is Australia’s most significant award for business writing and administered by the State Library of NSW.

“Professor Gow and I are delighted to be awarded the 2018 Ashurst Prize for the ‘Big Four’. We are grateful to the panel of judges, Ashurst Australia and the State Library of New South Wales for this recognition of our research, and we also thank La Trobe University Press for bringing our work to a wide audience.”

Stuart Kells

An independent judging panel selected The Big Four as the winner from a shortlist of five. The other shortlisted works were The Price of Fortune by Damon Kitney, Swanston: Merchant Statesman by Eleanor Robin, Elizabeth Macarthur: A Life at the Edge of the World by Michelle Scott Tucker and The Lives of Brian by Brian Sherman and AM Jonson.

The Big Four

Stuart and Ian’s book, The Big Four: The Curious Past and Perilous Future of the Global Accounting Monopoly, by La Trobe University Press, looks at the past, present and (uncertain) future of the four largest accounting and audit firms (KPMG, Ernst & Young, Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers).

“The Big Four traces the development of accounting practice and practices from the Renaissance and the Medici Bank through the evolution of the large firms to the current day, including their engagement with China. The authors then look to the future and ask: are these firms sufficiently robust and resilient to survive the challenges that confront them going forward?”

Richard Fisher AM, chair of the judging panel (Ashurst)
Stuart Kells is Adjunct Professor in the La Trobe Business School. His history on Penguin Books, Penguin and the Lane Brothers, won the 2015 Ashurst Business Literature Prize. His book The Library, was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award (non-fiction) and the NSW Premier’s History Award (general history). 
- Visit Stuart Kells’ website here.
- Get the book here.

LBS Innovation Series: Supply challenges and consumer expectations

In this presentation, Joe Manariti, General Manager Melbourne and Avocado Category at LaManna Premier Group (LPG), discusses the challenges of managing consumer expectations and the quality of farm management across the agribusiness value chain.

About Joe

Prior to joining LPG, Joe completed his Economics and Finance Degree at RMIT University, managed his family’s fresh produce retail business at the Queen Victoria Market and worked 3 years in financial planning. Joe joined LPG in 2011 in the role of Market Sales Manager at the Footscray Market, has progressed through the organisation, and now manages the Melbourne business. He is responsible for market sales and operations as well as two distribution centres in Footscray and Yarraville.  Joe is also responsible for LPG’s national avocado supply and sales program, national service provision, ripening and supply services. In March 2016, Joe was elected Advisory Board Member of the Melbourne Market Authority.

Search for efficiency

Joe’s presentation offers insights to innovation and research into diseases for different fruit and vegetable varieties from LPG experience. LPG is one of Australia’s largest fresh produce supply-chain companies and invests heavily in research and development, funding new frontiers in horticulture, packaging and cold transport and distribution. In his presentation, Joe emphasises the need to continue to search for efficiencies, which get products to consumers in the shortest possible time and in the best condition. In addition, Joe stresses the importance of gathering and analysing data to understand how the growing and harvest processes, transportation and retailers experiences affect consumer choices.

Please enjoy Joe’s presentation.

This blog is part of the LBS Innovation Series, developed by Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics at La Trobe Business School.

More blogs in the LBS Innovation Series:
- LBS Innovation Series: Gaps to perfection
- LBS Innovation Series: Building a global business in a period of disruption
- LBS Innovation Series: Is the Australian agriculture sector ready to grow?
- LBS Innovation Series: Agtech – Agriculture’s Disrupter or Saviour?
- LBS Innovation Series: Crossing the Chasm – Agtech & innovation ecosystems
- LBS Innovation Series: Innovation and the Victorian Chamber’s Agribusiness Taskforce

Students’ successful participation in SummerTech Live

Over the summer, two LBS students, Preet Kaur and Shaun Doolan, took part in SummerTech Live, a program organised by the State Government of Victoria that allows students to work on real-life projects while being mentored by Victorian businesses. Last month, during the SummerTech Live 2019 Showcase at the Victorian Government Investment Centre they presented their successful projects.

What is SummerTech Live?

SummerTech Live matches Victorian small or medium enterprises (SMEs) with digital needs to tertiary students, to solve their technology problems and support digital transformation. The business first identifies a business tech problem and is then matched with an innovative tertiary student who is assisted by an academic supervisor. For businesses it is an opportunity to accelerate technology adoption and innovation; build digital capability and improve competitiveness through accessing educational supervisors and exceptional tertiary students. It also provides the opportunity to build relationships between businesses and educational partners for future collaboration. Students get the unique opportunity to develop their job-ready skills, work on real-world issues, increase their technical skills and assist to build the business’s digital capabilities. In addition, the program operates as a paid 10-12 studentship and students receive $4,500 for their work on the program.

La Trobe University participated in Round 3 (Summer 2018/2019) with five LTU students, all working with regional business partners. Two of these students were from LBS: Business Analytics student, Preet Kaur and Agribusiness student, Shaun Doolan, who was also the first Bendigo student to be selected for the program.


Both Preet and Shaun worked with AgriNous, based in Bendigo. AgriNous was founded in 2016 and is a transnational platform that facilitates real-time processing of Livestock sales. Their application is a mix of technology, customer service and industry insights. AgriNous won the 2018 Inventor of the Year at the Bendigo Inventor Awards (BIA) (read more here) and took part in the La Trobe Accelerator Program (LTAP);  a 12-week program that  provides education and mentoring to a varied range of entrepreneurs, as well as support services to accelerate the success of start-ups. Besides collaborating with LTU during SummerTech Live they have continued participation with the university through La Trobe’s Work Integrated Programs – across various disciplines.

Marcus Pollock (GM, AgriNous), Preet Kaur, Shaun Doolan, Joel Rockes (AgriNous co-founder)

What did our students do?

Preet’s project involved dashboard design on Amazon Web Services, Quick Insights and novel data modelling. Supported by her academic supervisor Dr Kok-Leong Ong, Preet conducted data model creation and data cleansing (by matching and validating data for clients to consolidate and remove duplicate information), but she also proposed data model modifications to meet future requirements, did management reporting for AgriNous and created user group-specific dashboards for stock agents, producers, buyers and the saleyard operator.

The project that Shaun worked on, supported by academic supervisor Earl Jobbing, consisted of providing analytical and technical writing support for product management and livestock industry insights. This included the design and execution of surveys and interviews to assist with the identification of problems and solutions for the producer, buyer and stock agent, but also process mapping, user story, acceptance criteria writing and wireframing. In addition, he had to develop document and design features, dashboards and prototypes to be considered for incorporating into the product offering. Ultimately, as a result of the successful project during SummerTech Live, AgriNous offered Shaun a part-time job!

Shaun presenting at the SummerTech LIVE 2019 Showcase

SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 5

While some forms of discrimination against women and girls are diminishing, gender inequality continues to hold women back and deprives them of basic rights and opportunities. Empowering women requires addressing structural issues such as unfair social norms and attitudes as well as developing progressive legal frameworks that promote equality between women and men (SDG Knowledge Platform, 2019).

The facts

Gender equality is a fundamental and inviolable human right. Yet women around the world continue to face significant economic, social, and legal barriers to equality. Women are more likely than men to be unemployed, to be overrepresented in low wage jobs, to hold fewer managerial, entrepreneurial and leadership positions, and on average, to only make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. In 18 countries, men can legally prevent their wives from working. Women continue to bear disproportionate responsibility for unpaid care work and often experience maternity-related discrimination. Women entrepreneurs also face particular challenges to building and growing their businesses including lack of access to financing and business networks. In fact, less than 1% of spending by large businesses on suppliers is earned by women-owned businesses (UNGC, 2018).

The focus of SDG 5

The aim of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls (SDG Knowledge Platform, 2019). The targets related to SDG5 are broad and include:

  • Ending discrimination, violence, harmful practices against women and children.
  • Ensuring full and active participation in decision-making in all spheres of work.
  • Providing universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.
  • Undertaking reforms to improve women’s’ access to economic resources, ownership and control.
  • Improving access to enabling technology.
  • Strengthening policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and empowerment.

Australia is Not Winning at Achieving Gender Equality

A recent report published by the Sustainable Development Institute on Australia’s progress on the SDGs shows that progress is being made in  the areas of health and education, but not in terms of gender, climate change and housing affordability. In relation to SDG 5, the research found:

  • Only 11 women lead ASX200 companies.
  • Only 32% of Australian parliamentarians are female.
  • Women continue to face far greater economic insecurity than men. This is particularly evident at retirement, when women’s superannuation balances are just 42% that of men’s.
  • The gender pay gap has barely reduced in 20 years.

The burden of unpaid domestic duties still falls predominantly to women, with only 12% of men undertaking more than 15 hours of household chores each week, compared with 33% of women. In addition, the proportion of women and girls subjected to physical, sexual and psychological violence remains unacceptably high. Domestic and family violence remains the leading cause of death and disability for women aged 18 to 44.

LTU and SDG 5

“La Trobe is committed to achieving equality of opportunity in education and employment. We strive to create and support a safe, equal and inclusive community, where staff and students of all genders have equal access to power, resources and opportunities, and are treated with dignity, respect and fairness.”

LTU Diversity & Inclusion

La Trobe University has several initiatives that drive gender equality, including:

  • Workplace Gender Equality Agency – Employer of Choice: The University was awarded a second, consecutive prestigious citation from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) as an Employer of Choice for Gender. The citation recognises LTU’s efforts to support gender equality, including the development of a Women in Research Strategy, scholarships for undergraduate women supporting gender diversity and social inclusion, introduction of flexible workplace practices, access to child care support, and our proactive stance on violence against women prevention.
  • Women’s Academic Promotions Support Program: The program is designed to demystify the promotion process and provide peer support through senior mentors and mentor groups, has resulted of an increase in the number of academic promotion applications received from women.
  • Square the ledger: In its 50th year, La Trobe partnered with the Victorian Women’s Trust to embark on a project to ‘square the ledger’by documenting and celebrating the ordinary and extraordinary lives of women who have walked the halls of the University — as students, educators, and administrators.
  • Male Champions of Change: LTU’s Vice Chancellor, Professor John Dewar is a gender pay equity ambassador with WGEA, a member of the Male Champions of Change and Chair of the Women’s Economic Security Committee.

SDG Video

The fifth video in the SDG series was produced by our CR3+ Partner Audencia Business School from Nantes, France. In the video, Dr Céline Louche explains the objective of achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.  She covers the facts and figures, the targets for SDG 5, and the role that business can play. Business can focus on women in leadership, equal remuneration for women and men, diversity and equal opportunities, childcare services and benefits, workplace violence, and harassment. Dr Louche also interviews Christine Naschberger, Professor of Management and Human Resources at Audencia Business School, on gender equality in the workplace, how gender inequality manifests itself in that workplace and the importance of networking.  

Please enjoy the presentation.

If you would like access to the full video to use in your teaching, please contact Dr Swati Nagpal.

This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019. 
More blogs in the SDG Series:
- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 4

LBS Innovation Series: Innovation and the Agribusiness Taskforce

Mark Stone AM is Chief Executive Officer at Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and led the VCCI Agribusiness Taskforce, comprising of agribusiness representatives, academics and industry experts. In 2017, the VCCI Agribusiness Taskforce spent six months investigating the issues and opportunities facing the agribusiness sector in Victoria.

About Mark

As Chief Executive of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mark leads Victoria’s most influential business organisation. He is also a director on the Board of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), an Australia Day Ambassador and Fellow of the Williamson Leadership program. Prior to his role at VCCI, Mark spent 12 years as the Chief Executive of Tourism Victoria. Prior to that role he enjoyed a 12-year stint as Chief Executive of Parks Victoria, which employs 1200 staff and has a $4 billion asset base. In 2016, Mark was awarded an Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Taskforce – findings

In his presentation, Mark discusses why innovation in food and agriculture is important, where there is room for improvement but also industry challenges including technology adoption, understanding international consumer preferences and public funding of research and development. One of the findings of the VCCI Agribusiness Taskforce is the need for a stronger focus on innovation and quality. This includes early adoption of new technologies, stronger networks, clusters and services to support collaboration and commercialising innovation and research.

 Please enjoy Mark’s presentation.

Please access the full report here:

VCCI agribusiness taskforce report – Harvesting growth for Victoria


This blog is part of the LBS Innovation Series, developed by Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics at La Trobe Business School. 

More blogs in the LBS Innovation Series:
- LBS Innovation Series: Gaps to perfection
- LBS Innovation Series: Building a global business in a period of disruption
- LBS Innovation Series: Is the Australian agriculture sector ready to grow?
- LBS Innovation Series: Agtech – Agriculture’s Disrupter or Saviour?
- LBS Innovation Series: Crossing the Chasm – Agtech & innovation ecosystems

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