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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.

LBS Lecturer Jasvir receives the College Pro Vice-Chancellor’s Teaching Award

Recently, Dr Jasvir Kaur Nachatar Singh received the College Pro Vice-Chancellor’s Teaching Award. In 2011, Jasvir received the prestigious Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarship from the Australian government to pursue her PhD at LTU. Upon completing her PhD Jasvir was appointed as the Early Career Development Fellow at the Department of Management, Sport and Tourism (MST). Currently, Jasvir is a Lecturer in the MST Department. Business Newsroom sat down with Jasvir to ask her about the award and her teaching philosophy.

Jasvir receiving the College Pro Vice-Chancellor’s Teaching Award

Congratulations with the Teaching Award! Could you tell us a bit more about it?

It is a competitive award as there are only five awards offered by the ASSC College under this category. I’m honoured to be one of the recipients. The award recognises my innovative and high-quality teaching in the Leadership: What Matters subject (MGT3LWM) offered to undergraduate students across the university. Besides a certificate, I received $5000 to be spent on further advancing my practice of teaching at La Trobe Business School.

When did you become a teacher at LBS?

I started my academic career as a tutor at LBS in March 2013 while doing my PhD at the Department of Management at LBS. Then upon my PhD completion in 2015, I was appointed as the Early Career Development Fellow in 2016.

My first subject was Leadership: What Matters (MGT3LWM). This subject is offered to undergraduate students, mainly third year student across the university. Since 2013, I have been teaching, co-ordinating and re-designing this subject at LBS. I also teach management and human resource management subjects such as International Management (MGT2IMG), Human Resource Management (MGT2HRM), International Human Resource Management (MGT3IHR), Working with Others (MGT1OBE).

What do you think the university and your students like about your teaching?

I love having fun when I am teaching and I guess students do too. Therefore, I am all for creating fun in the learning and teaching process. For example, as a dedicated and zealous educationist, I crafted innovative hands-on activities such as scenario-based role plays, personalised story telling sessions with examples, online and off-line leadership games, fun and reflective activities. These activities have been highly effective in engaging students to learn: “The innovation Jasvir takes, changes the teaching dynamic in each class to make it interesting, fun and very participative” (SFT, 2017).

These innovative hands-on activities have positive effects on students’ learning, engagement and satisfaction. Students support the benefits of these creative yet exhilarating teaching approaches. For instance, “Jasvir likes to play games. For example, she likes to give a pen to the students in the class and she puts the music on. Once the music stops, student who has the pen will have to answer the question. It’s a fun way of learning” (SOTL, 2017). This comment was extracted from a research interview I gave after I received a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL) Grant in 2016.

What is your “secret”?

One of my secrets is that I remember all of my students’ name in my workshops. I do receive many positive comments from students that they do appreciate a staff member remembering their names and they are not just a number. I strongly believe that teaching has to be personalised; that a teacher and students have that cordial, comfortable and safe relationship where both parties learn from one and another.

I am a firm believer that the teaching and learning process is an inclusive process. I was an international student myself in the US and in Australia. I understand how an international student feels when they are in a classroom. I do my best to create an inclusive environment in my workshops where I consciously go around the classroom and ask general and specific questions to international students as well as domestic students. I also put domestic and international students into groups together to discuss subject related matters. At times, I also hear domestic students making effort in asking international students about their culture and their country of origin. This gets me excited as I am trying my best in building an inclusive teaching and learning environment in my workshops at LBS.

 

If you like to read more about Jasvir’s approach to teaching: check out the amazing blog she wrote for the Global Citizens Project:

Being an inclusive academic in the classroom – a difficult or easy task?

 

Teaching excellence recognised with LTSU Teaching Award

Eshan Arya has been awarded the LTSU Teaching Award 2018. Eshan came to Australia from India and started at La Trobe College  (previously La Trobe Melbourne). He continued studying at La Trobe University and completed a Bachelor in Economics and a Master in International Relations with Honours. He currently is close to completing his PhD at LTU. Business Newsroom sat down with Eshan to ask him about his LTU journey, his teaching career at LBS, and of course the LTSU Teaching Award.

 

Eshan receiving the LTSU Teaching Award 2018

 

Congratulations with the LTSU Teaching Award 2018! Can you tell us a little bit more about the award?

The LTSU (La Trobe University Student Union) Teaching Award aims to recognise an academic who has shown exceptional dedication to the student learning experience. Nominations are judged by a selection panel and then, if enough nominations are received, the top five nominees put to an online poll for students to vote. The nominee with the most votes is assessed as the winner.

What is it about your teaching that students love?

I think my students nominated me because I always strive to understand their perspective and do not generalise the overall student community. While I adhere to the rules and regulations, I truly try to understand what each individual is going through in their lives and why their actions are focussed in certain directions.

I am known as a tough marker and have never shown any favouritism and yet my students have been nominating me for three years in a row – this could be for a variety of reasons. I believe apart from innovative teaching, bringing in industry examples, simplifying concepts, getting perks to the classroom and having deep knowledge in the subject, there are other traits that students’ value more which I strive to develop in myself. These traits refer to maintaining a bias free environment in the classroom which is non-judgemental and respectful towards differing opinions. Maintaining a bully free classroom, encouraging students to embrace multiculturalism and to learn from diversity around them.

Apart from business studies and concepts I groom my students to think outside of the box, to respect diverse lifestyle choices of their peers and not to engage in any form of sexism or discriminatory ideas or behaviour. I also challenge my students to push their own boundaries rather than comparing them with their peers. I also go out of the way to answer their doubts and provide them a constructive feedback. I believe the key in my teaching is having a genuine respect for all individuals and their lives and not treating them as a commodity.

Tell us a bit about your longstanding LTU journey

I started my journey in Australia as a student with La Trobe College (LTC). I did a pathway diploma program as my previous degrees were in Physics/Science from India, and I was shifting to business studies. At LTC I met very skilled and student centric teachers. Their approachable nature, knowledge in the subject area along with an engaging teaching style not only harboured my keenness in business studies, but also laid the foundations of my own teaching style later.

Upon finishing the program, I completed my Bachelor in Economics and Master in International Relations with Honours at LTU.  As a student at LTU, I was particularly impressed with the teaching style of Dr. Jan Libich, Dr. David Walker, Dr. Daniel Bray, Dr. Rosemarie Edillon and Dr. Tim Thornton who showed exceptional innovative teaching styles that inspired me. I find the teaching style of my colleague Pablo Ahumada very inspirational too.

I started teaching economics in 2011/12. My lecturers remembered me as a star student: I was best in class, won three Dean’s commendation awards and three La Trobe Gold awards. This definitely worked in my favour when I was looking for teaching opportunities.

Dr. David Walker, Dr. Bret Slade and Dr. Rosemarie Edillon were my first employers. I’m very grateful to them for giving me the opportunity to teach. They believed in me, even though I had no prior teaching experience. I have taught various subjects: States Security & International Relations, Modern World Economy, Business in a Globalised World, Interpersonal skills & conflict management, Foundations of Management, Business Foundations, Big Ideas in Business and Organisational Change & Development. Currently I am teaching various bachelor and master subjects.

You have definitely built a great teaching portfolio at LBS. Besides your PhD and teaching, do you have time for other things?

Besides teaching at LTU, I teach Maths and English to High school students of refugee backgrounds for multiple city councils as a volunteer. I also teach Karate. As a 6th Dan Black Belt I teach Karate and Kickboxing to youth at risk under a special youth engagement program of my local city council.

Jamila Gordon – How LTU can make dreams come true

LBS alumna, Jamila Gordon, was interviewed by the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). The interview shows the amazing story of a Somali refugee who is now a high profile Non-Executive Director at Jayride & Advisory Board Member at Venture Crowd. Jamila sat on the university’s Board for five years and sits now on the Board of CareerSeekers, a not-for-profit that helps refugees and asylum seekers find roles within corporate Australia.

From Somalia to La Trobe

Jamila’s family had to flee her home country because of the Somali Civil War. She stayed in Kenya with distant relatives before she met an Australia backpacker who would help her emigrate to Australia. Her dream of going to university almost fell apart when every university in Sydney rejected her. La Trobe University, known for providing educational opportunities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, accepted Jamila. She became part of the LBS community studying a bachelor of Business (Information Technology).

In the interview Jamila talks about her journey and her career but also about how LTU taught her big-picture thinking, and mentions the great support she received from La Trobe University.

“Not only did they help me, they provided amazing support.”

Read the full article: What I’ve Learned: Jamila Gordon

Does Data Eat Strategy for Breakfast?

Businesses are operating in environments with increasingly large and complex sets of data.  This revolution of data is hitting every industry. Every organisation now has the power to harness large amounts of information that can help inform strategic decisions.

La Trobe University organised a panel discussion among leading industry experts to discuss and explore the synergy between data and strategy, whilst highlighting the importance of developing strategies to become a data-driven organisation.

The panel

  • Phil Bolton: Director at PwC Australia, who also leads the Safety Analytics practice. He has been delivering data analytics projects to businesses across a broad range of industries and countries for over 15 years.
  • Edith Cheng: Head of Digital Marketing & Analytics at Lens10, a digital analytics agency. Starting out in digital marketing, she developed an interest in analytics and specifically custom analytics integrations, which enable organisations to unlock the value of their data in innovative ways.
  • David de Garis: Director in Economics, Markets, Corporate & Institutional Banking at NAB. He is a business and financial markets economist and consults with clients ranging from the Bank’s agribusiness and corporate clients, to institutional clients at home and abroad.
  • James Fazzino: Vice Chancellor’s Fellow at La Trobe University. James is an LBS alumnus and recently concluded a highly successful eight-year term as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Incitec Pivot Limited.

 

Many LBS staff and students as well as people from outside the university attended the insightful event. The evening was opened by Professor Jane Hamilton, Dean and Head of the La Trobe Business School who mentioned that the university is excited to be at the forefront of this data revolution.

Watch the video to see how the panellists discuss questions such as: How do you see data influencing strategic decision making? Which business sectors are ‘doing data’ well? And do you have data influence your strategy, or do you use data for hypothesis testing?

 

A Dutchie on exchange at La Trobe

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

LBS’ graduate is the 200,000th LTU graduate

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

La Trobe Business School – End of Year party

Last week, December 13, all LBS staff and PhD Candidates were invited to Plaka Greek Restaurant for the La Trobe Business School End of Year Function.

Even though it was a typical Australian, scorching hot and 37-degree day, the Christmas cheer was all around. It was an afternoon filled with music, singing, laughter, good company and nice food. It was also great to see staff from the regional campuses joining the party.

The music was provided by Decky Music Band, with our own Dr. Marthin Nanere on the guitar & harmonica. 

Some staff dressed up in Christmas-themed attire, wearing Santa hats.

Throughout the afternoon, several groups joined the band on stage to sing some great Christmas classics.

The department of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Marketing teamed up with the Department of Management, Sport and Tourism and sang Feliz Navidad together.

The LBS admin team seemed to have some true singers in the making among their team and did a great job performing their songs.

And the executive team also joined in for a song.

The La Trobe Business School wishes everybody a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thank you for all your effort and hard work over 2017.

LBS Staff Awards

La Trobe Business School held its end of Year Forum on December 13. An important part of the End of Year Forum were the LBS Research Awards and LBS Awards presented to outstanding staff members of the school.

LBS Research Awards

Professor Kamran Ahmed presented the LBS Research Awards.

The first award went to Esin Ozdil. Esin was awarded the Early Career Researcher Award for her contribution to the study of Accounting, and particularly her innovative work in examining Accounting in the Public Sector.

 

Lily Nguyen was awarded the Mid Career Research Award in recognition of her important contribution to the study of corporate innovation, institutional investors and corporate disclosure.

Dr. Lily Nguyen receiving her Mid Career Research Award

 

Jointly receiving the Mid career researcher award was Jennifer Laing for her outstanding contribution to the study of tourism, and particularly the study of Travel Narratives, the Social Dimension of Events, Rural and Regional Development and Health and Wellness Tourism. Jennifer was also awarded the Excellence in Higher Degree Research Supervision Award.

Dr. Jennifer Laing receiving her Mid Career Research Award

LBS Awards

The LBS Awards, focusing on staff’s contribution to the School’s mission: “Being Responsible, Innovative & Engaged”, were presented by Professor Jane Hamilton.

The first award went to Mark Cloney, in recognition of his leadership of the National Innovation Forum and in raising the profile of the LBS.

The next LBS Award went to Nicola McNeil. While on a well-deserved holiday, she was awarded for her outstanding commitment to the School and her positive contribution the School’s culture and mission.

Dr. Mark Cloney receiving his LBS Award

 

Swati Nagpal received the LBS Award in recognition of her continual support of the PRME initiative, organizing a community of practice of multi-disciplinary staff to build Responsible Management in line with our mission, and in maintaining our status as an Australian ‘PRME Champion’

Dr. Swati Nagpal receiving her LBS Award

 

The next LBS award was for Kok-Leong Ong for his outstanding commitment to the Analytics programs and the overall student experience.

Dr. Kok-Leong Ong receiving his LBS Award

 

Paul Strickland won the LBS Award in recognition of his unwavering support to students during the departmental Study Tour along with his work in the development of the SIM partnership.

Paul Strickland receiving his LBS Award

 

Last but definitely not least, Belinda Westerlo was awarded the LBS award in recognition of her engagement, dedication and outstanding level of support provided to both staff and students in the school.

Belinda Westerlo receiving her LBS Awar

Congratulations to all these outstanding staff members of the LBS!

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.

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