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LBS Innovation Series: Universities’ engagement with industry

Australia must get better at creating meaningful collaboration between universities and business. The Federal Government flagged innovation in Australia as a major policy focus with its $1.1 billion National Science and Innovation Agenda in November 2015.

Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics in the La Trobe Business School, shares his thoughts on creating meaningful collaboration between universities and business.

 

Bringing industry into the classroom

One way La Trobe Business School is working towards better engagement with industry is through hiring Professors of Practice. A concept born out of the school’s strategic decision to adopt an approach focused on bringing industry into the classroom. Professors of Practice, such as myself, are experienced practitioners in a relevant field of professional practice. We teach subjects and courses that provide a high quality and industry relevant learning experience.

Before I joined LBS, I was the Senior Executive Officer responsible for enterprises management, business planning, audit and protective security in the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water. My experience leads me to be able to develop innovative teaching programs in the economics discipline and risk management practice that enhance the student learning experience, and enhance their career-readiness.

 

Bringing research into the market

Besides bringing industry experience into the classroom, we also build relationships by organising events where academia and industry can come together. The National Innovation Forum organised by La Trobe business School, NORTH Link and Deloitte Consulting P/L is a great example of such an event. More than 90 business, local government, academic and industry group representatives from Australia and internationally discussing the question:

 

How can we create sustainable bonds between universities, business and not for profits with a view towards creating a more mature innovation culture and ecosystem?

 

The discussions on strengthening collaboration are centred on maintaining industry-university connections and relationships through regular engagement and dialogue and the use of accelerators and incubators. Thus, universities need to create open collaborative spaces and networks with industry where there is potential to commercialise ideas.

This implies that each side needs to engage far beyond the traditional exchange of research for funding model. The implication is that we need strategic partnerships that better blend the research-driven culture of the university with the innovation/data-driven environment of business.

What more can universities do?

Forum delegate discussions and feedback show that some of the key points universities could consider in enhancing their engagement with industry are:

  • Streamline the decision making processes in terms of entering into collaborative arrangements with industry i.e. make it easier and break down barriers.
  • Changing the incentive system for academics to be equally rewarded for their industry engagement/collaboration as they are for their research.
  • Focus on talking the same language as industry (i.e. business practice) rather than academic theory (shaped by the need to publish).
  • Have a clear path of entry and handling strategy for business’ seeking collaboration opportunities.
  • Hold regular events that give business an opportunity to access and learn about its research and R&D activities.
  • Facilitate more frequent industry engagement/dialogue including events such as the National Innovation Forum which begin to bridge the gaps.
  • Introduce staff industry placements/secondments.
  • Work with industry on developing work-in-learning opportunities to develop more business ready graduates.
  • Establish quicker processes for changing curriculum and subject offering in response to industry need and the changing nature of work.
  • Offer all students opportunity to learn entrepreneurial skills i.e. to nurture start-ups and innovation.

La Trobe University, and La Trobe Business School, are already very active in many of these areas (e.g. La Trobe Accelerator Program; Professors of Practice, Work Integrated Learning and Placements; Industry and Community Engagement; Research and Innovation Precinct etc.) but we can always strive to do better.

 

Read the full NIF 17 Summary Report

  

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. The series was developed after the successful National Innovation Forum organised by La Trobe Business School, NORTH Link and Deloitte Consulting P/L.

More blogs in the LBS Innovation Series:

LBS Innovation Series: Introduction

Business Newsroom brings you the LBS Innovation Series, developed by Dr Mark Cloney, Professor of Practice in Economics in the La Trobe Business School.

 

National Innovation Forum

The goal of the LBS is to teach and produce research that has a positive impact on the ideas and views of our leaders of tomorrow in business, government, and not-for-profit organisations. With that in mind, LBS organised the first National Innovation Forum (NIF) last year in collaboration with NORTH Link and Deloitte Consulting P/L. More than 90 businesses, local government, academics and industry group representatives from Australia and internationally came together to explore how we can create sustainable bonds between universities with a view towards creating a more mature innovation culture and ecosystem.

 

 

Key themes discussed during the NIF Forum were:

  • The role of incubators and accelerators in engaging start-ups and SMEs and connecting university-industry innovation.
  • Global forces shaping opportunities for business (including start-ups and SMEs) over the coming decade.
  • Business perspectives on the opportunities and barriers to university-industry collaboration.
  • Changing nature of business models and start-up tools.
  • Developing business environments where innovation can thrive.

Mark has compiled the discussions on these key themes and turned it into the LBS Innovation Series, giving you the latest news, information and developments in the innovation space.

 

Watch Mark’s introduction to the LBS Innovation Series:

 

What is innovation?

Kenneth Morse explains innovation as ideas or invention plus commercialisation. So innovation adds value for consumers, but it can’t do this if it remains an idea or an unknown invention. It’s the idea plus the commercialisation of that idea or invention that leads to innovation.

 

What is the importance of innovation to social and economic change?

According to Klaus Schwab we have entered a fourth industrial revolution and like the three previous industrial revolutions, we are in the midst of a profound change to our economic and social structures.

 

The first industrial revolution from the 1760s was built on the construction of railroads and mechanical inventions such as the steam engine; the second in the 1860s on mass production and the harnessing of energy in the form of electricity; while the third from the 1960s was built on digital or computer revolution. These revolutions caused radical disruption and change. This is because the core of all these shifts are innovation and new technology that reformulate the traditional models of economic growth and societal structures.

 

The Fourth industrial revolution

The fourth industrial revolution (or 4.0) began in the 1990s and is characterised by new digital technologies and devices, platform economics, metadata manipulation, WIFI and the Internet of things, by cheaper, smaller and more powerful sensors, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

 

“How will revolution 4.0 play itself out? What are the key drivers? What opportunities does it offer? How can we manage the risk to society of the disruption it brings?”

 

The aim of the series is to explore these questions and gain useful insight that inform the ideas and views of our leaders of tomorrow. Watch this space for some great presentations by the following key players:

  • Mark shares his thoughts on creating meaningful collaboration between universities and business.
  • Antonio Palanca, CEO and Co-founder the HiveXchange, talks about his start-up science story.
  • Kate Burleigh, former Managing Director of Intel Australia/NZ and now country manager of Amazon Alexa Skills across Australia and New Zealand, looks at why students and businesses with a global mindset are more likely to succeed within the digital era.
  • Craig Scroggie, CEO NEXTDC – Australia’s leading Data-Centre-as-a-Service provider, welcomes us to the 4th Industrial Revolution.
  • Dr Stephan Buse, Deputy Director of the Institute for Technology and Innovation Management (TIM) at Hamburg University of Technology, views Academia-Industry collaboration and engagement, and how universities can strengthen firms’ innovative ability.
  • David Williamson, CEO Melbourne Innovation Centre gives us a case study in innovation.
  • Christine Christian, Chairman of Kirwood Capital, a Director of FlexiGroup Limited, ME Bank Limited, Lonsec Fiscal Group, Victorian Managed Insurance Authority and New-York based Powerlinx Inc, discusses the critical factors that determine why start-ups succeed (and fail).
  • Nick Kaye, founding Chief Executive Officer of the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship, explains how the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship (SSE) came about.
  • Dr. Ben Mitra-Kahn, Chief Economist at IP Australia, elaborates on the University-industry collaboration and IP.
  • Christine Axton, Director in Monitor Deloitte’s Strategy practice, gives us answers to questions such as “how do companies hold on to their ability to innovate? And how do they achieve, and keep, an innovation premium in the market?”

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

Why risk management is so crucial for entrepreneurs and the start-up economy

Traditionally business risk management has been used to reduce and better understand the likelihood and uncertainty various ‘events’ can have on businesses achieving their objectives e.g. financial uncertainty, legal liabilities, strategic management decisions, cyber threats, accidents, natural disasters and business continuity etc. Increasingly, however, business risk methods are being incorporated into new start-up sciences, business design and prototype testing for new ideas, products and services well before firms go to market. Application of these risk based start-up sciences is also a key strategy to help new start-ups attract potential investors by minimising investor risk.

 

The global business environment is being driven by new digital technologies and disruption. This includes 3D printing, quantum computing, blockchain, artificial intelligence and new platform economics led by Facebook, Google, Uber, and Alibaba etc. (see Klaus Schwab, 2016, The Fourth Industrial Revolution). It continues to be a problem, however, that a lot of entrepreneurs and start-ups fail because they do not clearly understand the ‘risks’ associated with their business proposition from the start. In this context they waste time, money, resources and effort building the wrong product or service for the wrong market at the wrong time.

 

So increasingly building a successful product and business is essentially about risk mitigation and systematically de-risking your business model overtime by identifying and testing the problem your product or service is attempting to solve. Applying more rigorous start-up scientist helps reduce the ‘risk ‘of business failure. The approach requires you to develop a feasible solution and prototypes and to try out on consumers to give feedback before launching the final product to the market. Start-up sciences include Design Thinking, Lean Canvas and Innovator’s Method etc. to reduce risks and manage uncertainty across the key end-to-end start-up design process.

For example, in 2012, Ash Maurya redesigned Osterwalder’s earlier Business Model Canvas to develop his Lean Canvas idea.  The Business Model Canvas provided a template describing nine essential elements of an existing business: customer segments, value propositions, channels, customer relationships, revenue streams, resources, activities, partnerships, and costs. Maurya’s Lean Canvas is a one-page business modelling tool that helps increase the probability of success by starting with the customer and using information or data derived from business-model hypotheses to lower risk and reduce uncertainty.

 

At the La Trobe Business School/NORTH Link National Innovation Forum held in September 2017 a number of business leaders, consulting firms and academics came together to discuss Australia’s innovation system and how to increase innovation particularly for start-ups and SMEs. Several of the presentations chose to focus on the use of start-up science as a means to reduce business risk and manage business uncertainty.

For example, Antonio Palanca, CEO and Co-Founder of the HiveXchange presented a case study on his business, which has created a new form of business-to-business e-commerce called trust-based e-commerce, which is designed specifically to meet the challenges in perishable produce supply chains. Palanca described the company’s journey and how the use of Lean Canvas methodology shaped field experiments and prototypes to reveal problems early that became the foundation of HiveXchange’s trust based e-commerce software. Palanca explained that the benefit of this approach was that as you go through the stages you reduce risk and therefore become more attractive to investors and you can drive more commercial innovation on a global scale.

Similarly, Christine Axton, Director in Monitor Deloitte’s strategy practice, presented a short overview the innovator’s method and illustrated its application in a case study. Based on the work of Nathan Furr and Jeff Dyer (2014) the innovator’s method is designed to help firms to specifically manage uncertainty in the innovation process. The innovator’s method offers a set of tools and methods to consider and test uncertainty at each of the end-to-end innovation process steps.

Several other presenters at the Forum referenced Eric Ries’ book The Lean Start-up: Creating Growth through Innovation, as a major influence on their business or teaching practice. The thrust of Ries’ book is that start-ups tend to be much higher-risk endeavours than they need to be because they build elaborate products before testing them with consumers. Applying Ries’ build, measure lean-loop, allows firms to reduce waste, optimise production processes and find out what their customers really want before they go to market.

 

What the above illustrates is that the traditional application of business risk methods and tools are changing. The future of business risk management is no longer just seen as a method to identify, assess and control threats to an existing firm’s systems, people, capital and earnings.  It is increasingly used as a key part of the start-up science that is nurturing a new generation of start-up businesses and de-risk businesses overtime.

This Blog is written by Dr Mark Cloney and originally published in Risk Management Institute of Australasia (RMIA), The Risk Magazine, No.3, March 2018, p.20. Read the full magazine here.

Mark is Professor of Practice in Economics at the LBS. Prior to joining La Trobe University, Mark was the senior executive 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 and risk management practice.

Innovate or Perish! Australia’s Innovation System

La Trobe University Professor of Practice in Economics, Dr Mark Cloney, questions popular reports that Australia performs badly in industry-university collaboration and innovation when compared to other OECD countries.

If Australia’s current innovation policy is based on questionable OECD data might the Australian Government run the risk of targeting scarce resources into the wrong areas as it prepares its strategic plan for Australian Innovation to 2030?

Concerns over the performance of Australia’s innovation system caused the Australian Government to undertake a Senate Inquiry (2014) and then flag innovation as a major policy focus when it announced its $1.1 billion National Science and Innovation Agenda (Commonwealth of Australia, 2015). A central element of that policy statement was to substantially increase university-industry collaboration on the basis that such alliances internationally have become a prominent feature of the knowledge-based economy, dealing with the speed of transformation and economic disruption.

Australia, like the rest of the global economy, is facing significant structural change in the coming decades which offers both challenges and opportunities. Some suggest 40 per cent of today’s jobs will no longer exist in 10 years and that changing technology (robotics and artificial intelligence etc.) and new business models will continue to disrupt ‘old’ business processes and structures. Others say that this same disruption will also create new growth markets.

So is Australia’s innovation glass half full or half empty?

One strategy in meeting challenges and opportunities is adopting continuous innovation and the uptake of innovative skills and technologies. Continual innovation results in new markets, mindsets, skills and organisational re-design which are critical drivers of productivity and growth.

According to Universities Australia (2017), universities are central to skilling and upskilling the next generation of Australian entrepreneurs and startups and thereby improving Australia’s innovation system and sustainable growth. Its research finds that more than four in five Australian startups founders are university graduates (Universities Australia, 2017, p.3) and that startups were the largest contributor to job creation in Australia in the last decade (Universities Australia, 2017 p.8).

As suggested, the health of Australia’s innovation system still remains subject to conjecture and contrasting opinions with, for example, Australia is sitting at the bottom of OECD (2015) rankings in terms of university-industry collaboration. Moreover, according to Global Innovation Index (2017), Australia slid further down the world rankings in terms of innovation inputs and outputs from 19 to 23 in the latest world rankings among 127 countries (Cornell University, INSEAD, and WIPO, 2017). However, is this really the case?

A report by IP Australia challenges the notion that Australia is at the bottom of the OECD university-industry collaboration index arguing that this finding is based on questionable data selection. For example, when you focus on patent applications filed by an Australian university with a collaborator (business partner) Australia moves to the middle of comparable international tables (IP Australia, 2017).

The city of Melbourne, home to nine universities, was recently named as the ‘most intelligent community’ in the world at the Intelligent Community Forum in New York in June 2017. Based on six intelligent community indicators the New York think tank pointed to Melbourne’s broadband speed, research institutions, new innovation precincts and its focus on sustainability as its major strengths.

The challenge seems to be that Australian universities specialise in innovative research to answer fundamental questions, while businesses have specialist skills in commercialising and implementing products, services and ideas. However, university research can be often disconnected from the innovative needs of business (e.g. startups and SMEs) and not-for-profits.

So is there a disconnect? If so, why the disconnect? Or, are we doing better than we think?

Our National Innovation Forum on September 28 and 29 in Melbourne features  Dr Benjamin Mitra-Kahn, Chief Economist at IP Australia, and Dr Charles Day, CEO of the Office of Innovation and Science Australia. They will explore the current health of Australia’s innovation system. The Forum also presents industry and academic perspectives on how we can continue to improve innovation through university-industry collaboration and engagement, particularly for startups and small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through the use of business accelerators and incubators.

No doubt the forum will shed some more light on whether Australia’s innovation glass is indeed half full or half empty, and where the Australian government may choose to target its resources to achieve its 2030 vision for Australian Innovation.

POP Mark Morris interviews Leigh Conlan: Career change is the only constant (or Doors a Latrobe Economic Degree can Unlock)

In this two-part blog entry, Professor of Practice Mark Morris discusses what innovation means in accounting, as well as what a career in accounting entails today, together with Leigh Conlan from Specialist Accounting Services. Leigh is also a La Trobe Business School graduate graduating in 1982 with a Bachelor in Economics.

Mark Morris: II understand that you are an alumni of La Trobe University

Leigh Conlan: Yes Mark, I studied economics and graduated in 1982 from La Trobe University. Following the completion of my degree with La Trobe, I was able to branch out into a variety of roles in both the public and private sectors.

Mark Morris: It seems these days that university graduates these days don’t have a job for life. Can you share with me your experience in relation to changes in your career?

Leigh Conlan: Absolutely. I have been fortunate to work for a number of organisations in a variety of capacities including accounting, economics, tax advisory, legislative analysis, and R&D consulting. I started out as a tax investigator with the ATO which was interesting work for a graduate as it allowed me to get a great perspective on private enterprise and in particular smaller organisations where accounting and the law intersect. Following this role, I transitioned to the ACCC which was then the Trade Practices Commission where I was heavily involved in litigation and policy objectives. What I found interesting in this role was, more specifically, price fixing collusion and conspiracy activities and investigations.

Mark Morris: So you were a corporate cop Leigh?

Leigh Conlan: Yes, essentially.

Mark Morris: And then you came over to private enterprise?

Leigh Conlan: That’s right, I came over to the dark side and started consulting in private enterprise. I worked for a number of big firms and was a partner of one of the larger accounting firms in Australia before I started my own practice.

Mark Morris: And what has your experience been like in respect of changes in roles?

Leigh Conlan: What I have found is that there is nothing wrong with a change of career and that change should always be embraced. In these modern times it is not only organisations that need to be agile and adaptive but this also applies to employees and individuals. To a certain extent change and being adaptive is a part of Australia’s history. Automation, fast changing technological and geopolitical changes will dictate market behaviour and employment opportunities.

Mark Morris: So how do you keep abreast of new developments in government policy and public-private collaboration?

Leigh Conlan: Well I am a member of the National Reference Group which is a peak body of private practitioners, the ATO and AusIndustry. I represent the CPA’s on that group which me enables to interface between public policy developments and issues from industry. I am also a member of the State Reference Group which provides further practical application.

Mark Morris: I gather that your ability to adapt and change led you to starting your accounting practice?

Leigh Conlan: Correct, I started Specialist Accounting Services a number of years back with a focus on providing high quality services in the fields of indirect tax and R&D advice.

Mark Morris: Can you tell me a little more about Specialist Accounting Services and how you differentiate yourselves against other service providers in this space?

Leigh Conlan: Sure. We differentiate ourselves by being an organisation which has the expertise across a range of industries relating to R&D. Specialist Accounting Services also employs a range of specialised technical consultants from the engineering and bio medical fields to leverage expertise in accordance with clients in these respective fields. This enables a better understanding of our clients’ needs and enables a smooth process through the R&D tax application process. This also empowers us to have a nurturing a close and positive working relationship with our clients. We also carry out services in respect of litigation support and competition policy assistance. Lastly, we provide a high quality service enabling our clients to receive a beneficial tax outcomes in accordance with the government legislation and the AusIndustry framework.

Mark Morris: Well, thank you for your time today Leigh. It has been a pleasure talking with you

Leigh Conlan: It was my pleasure. Thanks Mark.

POP Mark Morris interviews Leigh Conlan: Supercharging R&D and collaboration

Professor of Practice Mark Morris (left) and Leigh Conlan (right)

In this two-part blog entry, Professor of Practice Mark Morris discusses what innovation means in accounting, as well as what a career in accounting entails today, together with Leigh Conlan from Specialist Accounting Services. Leigh is also a La Trobe Business School graduate graduating in 1982 with a Bachelor in Economics.

Mark Morris: I am pleased to introduce Leigh Conlan of Specialist Accounting Services to discuss the recent government innovation statement and incentives that the government has introduced for both private and research organisations in respect of R&D. Leigh, Good morning.

Leigh Conlan: Good Morning Mark.

Mark Morris: Now Leigh, I understand you run a consultancy practice in the R&D space and you advise a broad range of clients.

Leigh Conlan: That’s correct Mark, we run a specialist practice service and in fact, operate under a company name Specialist Account Services Pty Ltd.

Mark Morris: That’s great Leigh. Tell me about some of your clients.

Leigh Conlan: Well we advise a range of clients from small medium enterprises through to large corporations and government departments. We offer a professional assistance to all businesses and research providers in the matters of R&D tax incentives and government grants

Mark Morris: That’s a good segue into my next topic which is around the innovation statement released by the government. What do you think the government’s approach is in this regard Leigh?

Leigh Conlan: As you know Mark, the innovation statement is built on four key pillars but it is important to keep in mind Mark that this is the first time that there has been a comprehensive tying together of all of the research and development governmental policy objectives.

Mark Morris: So can you provide some further insight into the four pillars that the government has outlined in the innovation statement

Leigh Conlan: Well briefly speaking these four pillars as outlined in the National Innovation and Science Agenda statement being ‘Culture and capital’, ‘Collaboration’, ‘Talent and skills’, ‘Government as an exemplar’. Within these pillars are specific areas that the government is targeting. For example the government has set up a $20Billion Medical Research Fund to increase funding in the areas of medical research and innovation. Another example, which may relate to La Trobe, is the government R&D funding of $2.8Billion to universities and the higher education sectors. There are also other funding initiatives such as cyber security innovation and other IT projects the government has initiated. These overall projects form only a snapshot of government funding examples but provides a glimpse of the overall innovation policy and where the government is heading in respect of stimulating research and development.

Mark Morris: So what is the majority emphasis of the government funding Leigh?

Leigh Conlan: Well Mark, the big spend by the government is still the R&D tax incentive which equates to just over $4.5Billion per annum. While the majority of that money goes into business, it should be kept in mind that research service providers also greatly benefit from this policy and there are valuable private business spinoffs from research organisations.

Mark Morris: When you talk about R&D, it’s not all lab coat style research projects is it?

Leigh Conlan: Not at all. We see R&D in areas where you would not ordinarily think that R&D would apply. Research and Development takes place in a variety of forms and industries. Some examples may be building and construction, on farms and of course software development. We have come across a number of private organisations, particularly those which are small scale, which were under the misconception that many of their activities would not be considered R&D when in actual fact they may be.

Mark Morris: Can you talk a little more about such products and processes in this regard?

Leigh Conlan: Well, many organisations are undertaking the development of products using a scientific methodology to determine outcomes and therefore creating new knowledge as a result of these activities.  It is also very exciting to see a variety of small to medium enterprises across Australia undertaking a number of dynamic projects which involve Research and Development as well as new commercialisation of innovative products.

Mark Morris: So given you are across many organisations who are at the cutting edge of technology, I assume that you have other areas you advise on?

Leigh Conlan: That’s correct. Specialist Accounting Services is unique as we have technical expertise and we can assist in a variety of capacities including comprehensive advice in the areas of commercialisation, government development and early stage development grants, government support programs and investing in early stage development funding.

Mark Morris: So can you provide more detail in regards to government incentives and programs that you advise in?

Leigh Conlan: Sure, one such program is around the commercialisation Australia program which provides funding of up to $200,000 to assist new organisations and those wanting to test the viability of product commercialisation. Also we have provided advice in relation to cooperative research centre (CRC) project grants as well. The CRC and associated grants is an outcome focused programme designed to support industry while supporting collaboration between industry, research and the community in a competitive framework.

Mark Morris: Have there been many changes by the government in relation to government grants and assistance?

Leigh Conlan: Yes there have been changes in regards to the tech sector that were previously restricted on applying for grants. These have now been removed to stimulate commercialisation and the development of novel IP across a broader range of industries across Australia. We see the government’s focus in this domain is on stimulating new knowledge, local IP and bringing innovative products to market in order to stimulate economic and employment growth.

Mark Morris: So have you seen many examples where universities specifically benefit from the R&D tax incentive scheme?

Leigh Conlan: Yes Mark I have seen this a number of times where universities are providing services to private organisations and where both benefit from the close collaboration undertaken. One such example is one our clients in the ehealth domain where a prominent Victorian university provided research assistance in evaluating IT architecture suitable for gathering information around broad based and large scale health records.

Mark Morris: So this is all research and development expenditure around software and IT?

Leigh Conlan: Correct Mark, we have also been involved with a number of initiatives in the private sector relating specifically to analytics and big data projects.

Mark Morris: Can you elaborate on how these initiatives may provide beneficial outcomes for the private sector, RSPs as well as the general public?

Leigh Conlan: We have seen a number of initiatives carried out by the big four banks in relation to blockchain. The key objective of blockchain is to develop a distributed database ledger which can continuously update records between parties and therefore improve the efficiency of banking transactions.

Mark Morris: That’s very interesting. Do you see any other developments relating to big data in the private sector?

Leigh Conlan: Actually we have also seen developments in the Telecommunications sector where a number of Australian telco’s have been building big data lakes and utilising these data repositories for a number of practical applications such as geolocation, product marketing and improving operational uptime.

For the second part of this interview, keep an eye on the Business Newsroom blog!

Epping Secondary College VCE Business Forum at La Trobe Business School

By Erin Basinski

On Friday 17th February the Year 10 VCE and Year 11 Business Management Students from Epping Secondary College were invited to La Trobe University to take part in the 2017 VCE Business Forum.

The day began in the Szental Lecture Theatre where our students joined other VCE students from Lalor Secondary College, Macleod College and St Helena Secondary College.

The day was then broken into three sessions. Our first session was with Roman Peretiako who is an associate Lecturer of Marketing at La Trobe Business School. We had the opportunity to discuss topics such as; what is Marketing, Market Segmentation and Target Markets. We were given the opportunity to come up with our own business concept and we were asked to consider the Marketing Mix:

  • PRODUCT – style, features, quality, brand
  • PRICE – How much should a business charge to recover the costs of marketing
  •  PLACE – How does a consumer obtain the product, physical retailer, online, factory outlet?
  • PROMOTION – What methods can be used to get a consumer’s attention, interest and desire?

Our second session was with Simon Crone who is the Manager of Content Development Programs at Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand. Mr Crone presented an interesting look at accounting and spoke about the importance of budgeting in the world of business. He too shared personal stories from his own career which demonstrated a strong personal commitment to the local community.

Our final session for the day was with Professor of Practice in Management Janet Rusell, at La Trobe Business School. In this workshop we had an opportunity to take a closer look at the iconic Australian juice brand, “Boost”. The main focus of this workshop was to think about a business concept, its development and its structure. We spoke about the sources of finance to help establish a start-up business, business locations and external factors that businesses need to consider when writing up a business plan.

Overall it was an enjoyable day which allowed us to see the bigger picture as to what our subject Business Management will cover this year. It was exciting to think that this year we will be given the opportunity to formulate our own business ideas and create a business plan with the hope to run our own business later on in the year.

Thank you to Ms Kanisiadis, Ms Hooper and Mrs Clark for organising and attending on the day.

Geraldine Kennett on Australian Leadership: “Envisage, Enable, Empower and Engage”

By Joseph Ghaly

Geraldine Kennett talks to Joseph Ghaly about Australian Leadership. Dr Geraldine Kennett is Professor of Practice in Management and Director of External Engagement at the La Trobe Business School, La Trobe University.

Joseph Ghaly: Geraldine, what are the unique qualities and features of Australian Leadership?
Geraldine Kennett: A sense of openness. We are a little bit more relaxed and laid back. I think it’s a part of the Australian culture so our leadership emulates that.

I don’t believe we always draw on international leadership practices because we tend to be more parochial and domestically focussed, particularly our corporate leadership.

The other thing I notice about Australian Leadership is that it is heavily masculine. We still don’t have many women at the most senior leadership levels. This can put a hard edge on the way we lead our organisations and put emphasis on short-term results, from a political, corporate and even not-for-profit perspective. Those organisations led largely by males at the executive level tend to focus on operations, fiscal results and business outcomes.

So even though I suggest we are relaxed and open, the dichotomy is that we are very much driven by achieving outcomes for the organisation. My hypothesis would be that with increased female leadership we would be more focused on the long-term health of the organisation, the health of the economy and the health of society in general. And some of our outcomes would be more sustainable and environmentally driven.

I get a sense that the direction we have taken in our country is very short term outcomes focused.

Joseph Ghaly: Geraldine, what are Australians seeking from our leaders?

Geraldine Kennett: Good question because Australia is in a fairly complex environment. Most of the issues that could be resolved for our society have been resolved. We know we have some social and economic issues as well as rapidly changing technology and several industry structural changes that are developing rapidly.

So, what Australians are looking for is leadership where we move from hero to host.

Australians have constantly looked for people who could be the hero and solve our problems. What we are looking for now is someone that is more of a host. That means having a more shared approach to leadership – the community gets involved, individuals wish to be involved. People want to be involved in decision making and that leads to a more collaborative society to what we have been experiencing in the past.

At the same time, Australians show a desire for integrity and authenticity. I bundle the two together because the public wants to leadership with genuine integrity. We expect our leaders to be authentic and walk the talk. We are educated so treat us with respect.

People are expecting to be led by leaders who can influence us to come along. Communities are wanting to be empowered and involved in the decisions of leaders. This means a strong envisaging leader.

The 4 ‘E’s as I refer to leadership here at the Latrobe Business School. Envisage, Enable, Empower and Engage.

Simple principles which if we lead by these principles the community and all its stakeholders will be engaged and willing to contribute to the vision or venture. The ‘how’ within these simple principles of leadership are more complex. The how or the way we lead is with authenticity, integrity, ethics and sustainability. The data from our under 36-year-old demographics show what they are expecting from our leaders includes; values, ethics and sustainability.

Overall, Australians are seeking strong collaboration, integrity, authenticity, sustainability, and ethics in the way in which we lead.

Joseph Ghaly: Geraldine, what are the finest examples of Australian Leadership you have observed or delivered?

Geraldine Kennett: Thank you. I’m going to refer you locally to Professor John Dewar, the Vice-Chancellor of La Trobe University. Professor Dewar has had to make some tough decisions to ensure that the university is at the forefront of higher education for the future. He has had to be very mindful of doing this with limited resources. At the same time, John is not afraid to invest in opportunities that provide long-term benefits for the future. For instance, a new community access sports centre and new courses in cybersecurity and business analytics.

I have been fortunate to work alongside Professor John Dewar on a charity, The Australian Futures Project (AFP), that he supports out of his office. He has done this because he genuinely believes that the university has a leadership role in supporting start-up ideas that have a broader agenda for society. The AFP purpose is to create better decision making for a better Australian society. It leads forums for politicians, public servants and the community at large. It addresses how leaders beyond one’s own organisation make contributions to society.

Another example is from my former time with the Institute of Public Administration Australia. The Former CEO, Dr Kathy Laster,  would consistently act on decisions with three key criteria in mind:

  1. Did I do that with integrity;
  2. Is it a sustainable decision; and,
  3. What will be the impact on the people I’m leading, and people in the community beyond my organisation?

Reflecting on the broader impact is sustainable and ethical leadership in my view.

Finally, I work with and support Indigenous issues, in particular, the economic development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders with a leader I admire – Paul Briggs, a well-respected Yorta Yorta man. He has the tenacity and an enormous capacity to think strategically and gets people at the highest level engaged in his initiatives.

Joseph Ghaly: Geraldine, what are our major challenges?

Geraldine Kennett: I think a major priority for Australia is to give our first nation’s people, economic independence and as a whole community support them in their development.

We need our leaders to enable and empower those communities and bring the rest of the country along in supporting them; that means all citizens and employers in the private, public and non-government sectors.

The other challenge is to move forward in driving our digital and experience-based economy rather than the former economy based on consumption. We need people to be really thinking about this agenda otherwise, the threat is high unemployment and a polarisation of society from displaced industries. We need to consider the jobs of the future and our education emphasis for future generations.

A sustainable planet is, of course, critical and should fair in our thinking beyond the challenges pertaining our own generation. I believe it our responsibility to develop leaders who lead responsibly and make long-term decisions that sustain future generations.

This post was originally published in the online Australian Leadership magazine.

LBS Professors of Practice Profiles – Mark Cloney: “This is the time to open your mind and prosper”

As an LBS Professor of Practice, Mark Cloney brings a wealth of management and government experience to La Trobe Business School. With over twenty years of experience in the public sector and ten in the private sector, Mark Cloney has insights into economics, business and public policy practice that will undoubtedly be invaluable to students.

“I worked in the Commonwealth government for over twenty years.” Mark comments. “First I was in the department of Transport and Regional Development for thirteen years as a Director of Regional Development Policy, and afterwards I was in Senior Executive Service in the Department Agriculture, as the Assistant Secretary of Business Assurance and Risk.”

When asked about the skillset needed to enter the Public Sector, Mark is clear: “For a career in the public sector, people need common sense, a hands-on attitude, analytical skills, and a strong understanding of how government works and to be flexible and adaptable – because things change!. It is also crucial to understand how policy decisions will affect the broader community, and not just the intended target groups of a particular policy.”

A practical attitude is something that Mark is keen to pass on to his students through his teaching. As an assignment, Mark instructs his students to write a two-page brief to the minister after going through a case study about a specific decision or problem. In the assignment, students are asked to give a minister on overview of the options available in a short brief, to help the minister to make an informed decision. To this end, students must provide a brief history on the problem, the context, explain why it’s a problem, as well as policy options for consideration. Mark says. “Ministers usually don’t have a lot of time on their hands, so they need all the key information required, as quickly and succinctly as possible. They can always follow-up if they want more”.

During this process, policy officers must remain politically neutral, and look into solutions from a range of quite often competing perspectives. “In the position of a policy officer, you will have stakeholders coming at you from all sides,” Mark comments. “Often it is your job to find policy options that works for a variety of stakeholders. It is the Minister’s role to choose the options that best suits the political agenda and priorities of the government.”

When asked how being a policy officers differs from his current position, Mark says he is enjoying the change of environment; “As an academic, you can be a lot more independent in your research and teaching away from the daily cut and thrust of politics that senior bureaucrats have to deal with. When you work in policy in government, you’ll quickly discover that there is no silver bullet, or ‘right’ economic or policy theory for a lot of social, environmental or political problems.  Many of the major of problems of today are ‘wicked’ in nature i.e. climate change, pollution, or indigenous disadvantage etc. and not easily resolvable.  And, as government’s and ministers change so do their priorities and political agendas and consequently their appetite to address some problems and not others.”

So, how do you solve big problems as a policy officer? “You apply as many different lenses (tools, frameworks and approaches) to look at problems and take into account different stakeholder views,” Mark reckons. “When dealing with a problem on a large scale, you will need a range of solutions to address different symptoms caused by the problem and you need to work across jurisdictions and government agencies. No one agency or level of government has the answer or capacity to address the wicked problems. As a Policy Advisor, you will need to be able to think out of the box and apply innovation to your thinking. This is why broad based course such as political economy and economics are very useful for students try to understand global issues and public policy approaches.”

When it comes to forming students who are ready for the work-force, Mark Cloney is positive. He is encouraging when it comes to industry placements. As a Professor of Practice, Mark has been a strong advocate for pushing industry partnerships, collaboration, and blended learning. “A lot of the tools students need today come down to having a broader skillset rather than narrow knowledge gained from a particular discipline or course.  It is about how they use the knowledge obtained through their degree to collaborate, problem solve and innovate more broadly. This is what is demanded in a knowledge based global economy”.

Mark says, “Universities are great places to explore your interests, and try out new things. Students should take advantage of that but always with an eye to future employment.”

Hanoi: Values, Ethics and Diversity

By Catherine Ordway

I was visiting the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) yesterday for a meeting, and I was struck by the beauty of the sculpture (pictured above). The female paralympic basketballer is reaching for the ball – and the clear blue Canberra sky. I reflected on what “diversity” now means for organisations, and how that might translate into workplace practices for the students I am about to meet in Hanoi, Vietnam later this week.

I am teaching the subject “Values, Ethics and Diversity in Organisations” as part of the Master of Management. This subject is: “designed to develop students’ critical thinking and research skills to contribute to an informed analysis of the role of values, ethics and diversity in contemporary organisations. Through the use of ethical theories, the subject aims to develop students’ abilities to re- frame organisational practices and to include ethical considerations in organisational decision-making. The concept of workplace diversity is introduced and evaluated in Australian and global contexts. Frameworks and tools for managing business ethics and diversity are introduced and critically evaluated. The subject is designed to meet principles 1-4 of the PRME principles.”

The United Nations (UN) Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) initiative of the UN Global Compact seeks to inspire and champion responsible management education, research, and thought leadership globally. As set out in La Trobe’s most recent UNPRME report, I am pleased to be one of the: “11 Professors of Practice with significant and ongoing industry experience to ensure our teaching and curriculum keep step with industry practice.

The Professor of Practice title also seeks to highlight what industry can contribute to academia and while many Australian business schools offer industry experts positions as casual or adjunct staff, La Trobe is the first university in Australia to formally employ them and integrate them into the day-to-day operations of the school. The Professors of Practice contribute practical advice and industry networks and connections to our students, while improving curriculum design by ensuring it is relevant and up-to-date with industry standards and trends. As well as contributing to research and teaching, our Professors of Practice facilitate meaningful engagement with leaders in business, government policy making and the not-for-profit sector”.

The cooperation with Hanoi University is a very exciting initiative, and am very happy to be a part of it.

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