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LBS Innovation Series: Is the Australian agricultural sector ready to grow?

The second presentation of the 2019 LBS Innovation Series by Joann Wilkie is on innovation and productivity growth in the Australian agricultural sector. Joann focus is on the aspirational target that the Australian agricultural sector has set itself for 2030 – that is, to reach $100 billion in gross value of production. Her presentation explores the challenges and opportunities this aspirational target implies for Australia’s primary producers.

About Joann

Joann is the First Assistant Secretary at Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. In her role, Joann is responsible for providing advice on a broad range of policy issues affecting the agriculture industry, overseeing the Research and Development Corporations and managing the R&D for profit program. She is an experienced public servant who has worked on a range of policy issues including energy, deregulation, women’s business taxation and economic policy.

Innovation

Joann explores the opportunities and challenges for continued innovation in the Australian agricultural sector relating to on-farm productivity, agtech and innovation, transport, regulations, competition, labour markets and workforce, industry structure and governance, and institutions. In addition, she discusses options for government and industry to better facilitate continuous innovation which is the major catalysts to meeting growing global demand.

Please enjoy Joann’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 2019 LBS Innovation Series:

Welcome to our new LBS staff members

Besides welcoming (back) students this week, we are also welcoming Helen, Safi, Mary, Elise, Van and Mohammad to LBS.

Dr Helen Yang

Dr Helen Yang
Senior Lecturer – Accounting

Besides her extensive knowledge and experience as an accounting academic, Helen brings a wide knowledge of China as well. Prior to her appointment, Helen held academic positions in Australia and China, including the Head of Accounting & Information Systems at Victoria University, a role that she held until recently.

Dr Md Safiullah

Dr Md Safiullah
Lecturer – Finance

Md Safiullah (Safi) completed his PhD degree at The University of Newcastle in Australia. His research interest is in the areas of banking efficiency, liquidity creation and risk, corporate governance, Islamic banking and finance. He has published research papers in a number of reputed finance journals including the Journal of Corporate Finance (ABDC A*) and Pacific-Basin Finance Journal (ABDC A).

Dr Mary Ma

Dr Mary Ma
Lecturer – Finance

Mary completed her PhD in May 2018 at Massey University in New Zealand. Her research has been published in internationally respected academic journals, such as the International Review of Financial Analysis and the Pacific-Basin Finance Journal. Mary’s teaching interests include applied econometrics, international finance, microeconomics, investment analysis and business finance.

Dr Elise Lee

Dr Elise Lee
Lecturer – Human Resource Management

Elise earned her PhD degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Elise taught human resource management and management courses at the University of San Francisco and Washington State University as an assistant professor prior to joining LBS. She conducts research in the areas of team processes and conflict, workplace fairness, and strategic human resource management.

Dr Van Vu

Van joins us from the Newcastle Business School (Australia). Her main research interests include issues related to bank loan contracts, bond contracts, and the choice between public and private debt finance. Her other research interests include corporate liquidity management and recently market micro-structure.

Dr Mohammad Al Mamun

Md Al Mamun completed his PhD degree in finance at La Trobe University. His research interests are in empirical corporate finance and capital market research. His recent work focuses on the implication of power structure of top management team and unveiling the implications of culture (corporate and local) in corporate finance.

Welcome on board!

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.

It’s all about entrepreneurship ecosystems

LBS was recently fortunate to host an interesting presentation by a distinguished visiting scholar, Professor Steven Johnson from Sheffield Business School where he is Assistant Dean Research.

Steven shared research, collaboration and engagement initiatives currently being developed at Sheffield Business School. Some of these initiatives will be in collaboration with LBS, which brings opportunities to our students and staff.

Professor Steven Johnson with several staff members of the La Trobe Business School

Steven gave a presentation for the Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Marketing (EIM) Department on the entrepreneurial ecosystem of the city of Hull. He will further share his research findings with the LBS entrepreneurship team at the upcoming Australian Centre for Entrepreneurship Research Exchange (ACERE) Conference in Sydney, an annual conference co-sponsored by LBS. We will soon share more news about this conference. For any queries, please contact Professor Alex Maritz.

Farm Mate: An idea that went from Mildura to Silicon Valley

Last year, La Trobe University and Hacker Exchange organised the La Trobe University Hackathon in Muldura. The event was part of the La Trobe Accelerator Program (LTAP), a free 12-week program dedicated to support, mentor and provide seed funding to regional start-ups and entrepreneurs.

LBS Agribusiness student Julia Payne and her mother took part in the hackathon and won tickets for a funded trip to Silicon Valley with their idea of “Farm Mate”: a one-stop-shop for all resources and programs to help farmers prioritise tasks and save money. Their trip took part in December 2018 so it was time for Business Newsroom to sit down with Julia and ask her about the trip.

Congratulations on winning those tickets at the hackathon! First of all, what is a hackathon?

In August my Mum and I attended a hackathon run at La Trobe University Mildura Campus. This hackathon was run over a weekend and the whole concept of it was an intensive, thought-provoking weekend to develop an idea we were passionate about. We had to research it, validate it with real customers and put forward a pitch at the end to display the progress we had made during the weekend. The prize up for grabs was three tickets, which was later turned into four, sponsored by the La Trobe Accelerator Program to attend the Hacker Exchange trip to Silicon Valley.

Julia and her mother presenting Farm Mate

Could you tell us more about Farm Mate?

Our winning idea is Farm Mate: a customisable home page for farmers where they can access all of the information they need, relevant to their jobs or tasks, all in one location. This includes weather, drone footage, OH&S, budgeting, mental health, chemicals and more. This platform is enhanced by the networking feature to allow farmers to communicate in a trusted environment, with the aim to remove an element of isolation out of farming. While the idea sounds simple, it’s actually quite complicated to set up. It is a passion of ours and we were able to pitch it in a way that won us a trip to Silicon Valley.

It sounds really interesting! So how was the trip to Silicon Valley?

It was great. While in America, we were based in San Francisco where we lived, worked and explored for two weeks. During this time, we met with many different influential people from Silicon Valley and San Francisco. They told us a lot about what it is like to live and work in America, the protocol differences from Australia, what it is like to be a start-up, how to prototype a product or service, but also about venture capital, marketing and networking. We even learned how to build an app.

Throughout the two weeks we attended the Hacker Exchange program during the day and were encouraged to meet with people in our industries, go to Meetups, and network at the end of the day. This is where we were able to make many connections, many of which we may not realise the value of yet.

It was amazing to see how everybody in the group progressed. The Hacker Exchange program is one like no other. It provided us the opportunity to learn skills and meet people that I would otherwise never have met. In the classroom, you often get told to prototype your product/service but a program like the Hacker Exchange teaches you HOW to prototype. I believe that is the main difference with the classroom environments and is what made the program so much more rewarding.

The Hacker Exchange group at Stanford university

What is the next step for Farm Mate?

A really important lesson we learned was that we are not interested in venture capital and we are not driven by money. We are passionate about our idea, it being about information sharing, networking and easy access to much needed information, and find that it is integral to the future of farming, particularly in Australia.

We believe that we can build the community required to contribute information into the platform, however we are still seeking the technical support and advice to build the platform for both phone and computer. We would like to start small and just contribute the information we already have, freely available to the public on a platform such as a blog. We would like to monitor the reach and need for this information and then slowly develop the web page and app from there. We are at an exciting point in the start-up process, now it is just up to us where we choose to place our next foot along the path to getting Farm Mate up and running!

Julia and her mother in Chicago

Julia Payne is a second year Agribusiness and Accounting student at La Trobe University Mildura. She has been working for Southern Cross Farms as an Agribusiness Assistant since January 2018. Julia completed the La Trobe Accelerator Program in 2018, she has also joined the ABC Heywire and Macpherson Smith Rural Foundation Alumni, as well as being accepted into the La Trobe Hallmark program. Julia is a co-founder of Farm Mate.

Mind the perception gap: Reconceptualising supply chain performance management

In the service industry, success often favours those who deliver higher performance and value in the eyes of their partners and/or end-customers. The performance of the delivered service, however, may not always meet the expectations of the buyer, or the service quality may be evaluated differently by the supply chain partners, leading to a performance shortfall in both cases.

Perception gap

A perception gap refers to the differences in perception among the stakeholders regarding any aspect of the supply chain relationship. But how are such gaps associated with the performance of service supply chains and any resultant performance gaps? How can service supply chain partners identify, quantify, and eliminate the perception gaps?

Above research questions have recently been studied in an international and multi-institutional collaboration project conducted by LBS researcher Dr. Sean Asian, Dr. Dawei Lu (University of Warwick), Dr. Gurdal Ertek (Abu Dhabi University), and Mete Sevinç (Cognizant Technology Solutions Corporation, Netherlands). Their results have been published as a research paper, entitled “Mind the perception gap: An integrative performance management framework for service supply chains”, in the International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management (Impact factor 2017: 4.215).

Improving supply chain performance

In this multi-disciplinary project, the project team collaborated with a leading UK-based insurance company to improve their supply chain performance in three phases: First, they investigated the existence of perception and performance gaps along the supplier-buyer interface: Second, examined the association between the perception gaps and the performance: And, third, constructed an integrative framework that factors-in the perception gap into service supply chains and measures them through meta-KPIs.

The presented research confirmed that perception gaps do exist and can have significant association with the performance gaps along the service supply chain. The development of the presented analytical framework for quantifying the gaps extends the theoretical boundary of supply chain performance management and offers a new window to both researchers and practitioners.

Implications

Although the data tested and analysed in this research were sourced from the insurance service industry, the nature of the findings are general and can contribute to a more extensive body of knowledge from which new theories specific to supply chain management may be induced. For example, the presented methodology can be used as the computational engine behind the supply chain initiatives that aim at the identification and elimination of perception gaps. This ultimately can enable them to reduce the perceived gaps to an insignificant level through collaborative efforts, such as sharing key relevant information and synchronizing their perceptions.

Another possible implication is the analysis of data from diverse real-world cases and the observation of patterns across them. While big data is ubiquitously available and data science tools are becoming mainstream, the potential for similar research is practically unlimited. For example, unexplored primary data readily available in companies’ ERP systems (Enterprise Resource Planning), as well as additional secondary data, can be analysed through exploratory, descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive data science techniques to observe phenomena, propose hypotheses, and develop a plethora of general theory that is highly relevant, actionable, and applicable. This research can serve as an example, especially in the supply chain performance management literature, of how such a combined study can be conducted.

 

Dr. Sean (Sobhan) Asian is a management scientist and operations researcher, with special interests in exploring and solving complex Supply Chain Management, Logistics, and Transportation problems. To further discuss this research and explore any possible collaboration please directly contact Dr. Sean Asian (S.Asian@latrobe.edu.au).
 
  • The full paper can be accessed as: Dawei Lu, Sobhan Asian, Gurdal Ertek, Mete Sevinc, (2018) “Mind the perception gap: An integrative performance management framework for service supply chains”, International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management, https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPDLM-09-2017-0302
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