29 June 2020

Winning the IBM Developer Hackathon

University of Sydney Business Dalyell Scholars Josh and Jagen have just placed first in the regional Call for Code competition, the IBM Developer Hackathon. They pitched to industry leaders and field academics with their startup idea, Business Buddy.

The IBM Developer Hackathon was a two-day competition for students in the Australia and New Zealand region. In a non-stop period of 48 hours, participants had to present their ideas using technological solutions developed by IBM that addressed either COVID-19 or Climate Change.

The competition was generally targeted at budding developers which could form teams on the spot that day, or as Jagen and Josh had done, come into the competition as a pre-formed duo. A highlight of the Hackathon experience was that the two students were able to hear live talks from IBM developers on new initiatives, technologies and coding experiences to broaden their perspective on the industry.

We asked Josh and Jagen about their Hackathon experience.

What was the biggest challenge your team faced in the competition?

Our biggest challenge was our lack of coding experience due to the fact we come from a Commerce/Law (Joshua) and Arts/Law (Jagen) background. To add to this, we were up against tough competition from all across Australia, including professional developers and other university teams with extensive coding experience. Despite the fact we were up against an exceptionally talented group of individuals, we really benefited from being part of the Dalyell Program where we were able to develop an invaluable relationship with Dr Sandra Seno-Alday, Director of the Dalyell Program. Sandra provided a lot of help and guidance along the way and we wouldn't have gotten to where we were without her!

How do you think the Dalyell Program helped prepare you for the competition?

Beyond placing us with close proximity to leading academics, the Dalyell program was able to help prepare us for the competition as we were really pushed outside our comfort zone as we participated in the Dalyell course, BUDL3901 Innovative Solutions to Change the World. During this program, we had our first encounter with IBM who introduced us to ideas such as design thinking and the customer-centric approach. Furthermore, they also showed us that technology can be easy and accessible even if you don’t necessarily come from a science or engineering background. What is most important is one's ability to think critically and laterally (i.e. outside the box) and this was exactly what we tried to do during the competition.

What is the most valuable skill you've gained from the whole experience? 

Josh: One of the biggest insights I gained from the competition is the hands-on coding experience that helped grow our solution from an idea and into a working prototype. Coming from outside a technological background, it can be difficult to understand or grasp the immense opportunity and yet limitations of our ideas. Competing in this competition has allowed me to understand coding and software development to the extent that I can now brainstorm new ideas that are not only exciting but also practical and effective.

Jagen: For myself, the greatest lesson I've taken away has got to be the ability to adapt. We often hear that it is the survival of the fittest but in reality it's not so much about what we know but about how we can learn effectively, navigate through unknown territory and come out on top. Competing in this competition without a technological background has meant that I've had to adapt my skills to new requirements and think in new ways about the problems we face. Having learnt quite a substantial amount of coding over the weekend, I can definitely say my skill set has changed rapidly and the perspectives I use to approach tasks has broadened in scope.

23 June 2020

Beta Alpha Psi: 2020 Oceania Regional Meeting and Best Practices Competition

Beta Alpha Psi (BAP) is an international honours organisation for accounting, finance and business analytics/digital technology students. Founded in the United States in 1919, there are currently over 330 chapters from around the world. 

In April this year the University of Sydney Chapter team took part in the BAP 2020 Oceania Regional Meeting and Best Practices Competition, themed ‘honouring the past and embracing the future.’ This year’s Regional Meeting was held online, with our team tuning into a session via Zoom with several other universities across Australia and New Zealand.

This change to an online format also meant that instead of presenting ‘in person’ for the Best Practices Competition, we had to pre-record and submit video presentations on YouTube. With teamwork and creativity, we adapted accordingly, found new ways to work together online and successfully delivered our presentations. 

Sam Hain and Elishbah Amer placed first in the ‘Innovation’ Category. Their presentation focused on how our Chapter is incorporating various emerging digital technologies such as AI and Fintech into our events. Rhys Jennings and Lily Zheng placed second in the ‘Engagement’ category, presenting on our Chapter’s ‘Three E’s of Engagement’ – how we are educating, empowering and encouraging our members. 

We were incredibly blessed to have the amazing guidance and support of our Faculty Advisor Janine Coupe, as well as our wider BAP team and alumni. 

Our Business School studies have definitely also helped in preparing for the competition. For example, having the opportunity to work on and develop presentations in various units we’d previously undertaken helped with how to effectively map out and deliver our content, especially given we were presenting to an international audience.  

Sam and Elishbah will now go on to represent the University of Sydney and Oceania region in the international competition in August this year. The 2020 BAP Annual Conference will see chapters from around the world get together in a virtual meeting.  

To find out more about BAP or join us, visit our website or our Facebook page.

To watch our Best Practice Presentations, visit our YouTube channel.

12 June 2020

My Local Placement Program experience: Emma Debus

Bachelor of Commerce student Emma Debus shares her experience on the Local Placement Program (BUSS2100/BUSS6500).

The Local Placement Program gave me the opportunity to work for a leading firm as part of my degree. This semester I completed a Local Placement Program three days a week for ten weeks. I applied to be part of the program at the beginning of Semester 2 in 2019. The process of being accepted into the program involved an application, a video interview and an assessment centre. By the end of Semester 2 I found out that I was going to be working at Nestlé for KitKat Chocolatory.

Emma Debus

My internship was supposed to be centred around the opening of a KitKat Chocolatory store in Sydney’s CBD in April. Following two days working in Nestlé’s office in Rhodes, I was told that the remainder of my internship would be virtual, and the store wouldn’t be opening until isolation restrictions loosened. Instead, I was involved in the planning and design of new KitKat products. This involved Skype meetings with people at the factory explaining the capabilities of the chocolate machines. Luckily not being at the Nestlé office didn’t restrict my chocolate intake as new KitKat products were sent to where I was isolating. I also conducted extensive research into confectionary and medicated trends to assist Nestlé’s brands in responding to competitors.

Part of the Local Placement Program involved reflections about my experience interning. Through the process of reflecting I was able to understand more about how my personality characteristics influence my working style. Writing reflections also revealed the impact of my studies in preparing me for the workplace. For example, marketing subjects prepared me well for creating presentations and conducting research effectively.

Working virtually posed technical difficulties and changes to my work content as the KitKat Chocolatory store couldn’t open in the city. Now, as I have gained an understanding that you need to be adaptable to unique issues that digital communication brings, I am more relaxed when technical difficulties arise as I recognise that technology is not a domain that I can perfect. Looking back, interning from home has equipped me with skills necessary for an evolving workplace as working virtually becomes more common.

I strongly recommend to anyone part of the business school to apply for the Local Placement Program.

Learn more about the Local Placement Program here.

5 June 2020

My Self-Sourced Placement Program Experience: Paris Vergan

Bachelor of Commerce student Paris Vergan shares her experience on the Self-Sourced Placement Program (BUSS2200/BUSS6514).

What is the Self-Sourced Placement Program?

The Self-Sourced Placement Program is one of the University of Sydney Business School’s work-integrated learning (WIL) programs. This program is fantastic for individuals who have already sourced internships and want to gain academic credit and reflective skills. It allows you to choose your own pathway to employment by deciding upon a role you know you will enjoy, in a company which values align with your own.

Paris Vergan

How did you source your placement?

I attended a corporate partners networking event hosted by the Business School and sat next to who became my supervisor! By engaging with him about my passions for Marketing and Commercial Law, he offered me an opportunity to interview for a work placement. After following up, I got the job!

Applying for the program was super easy and consisted of submitting an expression of interest to the WIL hub. After reviewing and confirming my application, University staff were extremely supportive and offered one on one consultations every couple of weeks to check up on my experience and help discuss any reflective tasks.

Overall, I am really fortunate I underwent the placement as it allowed me to experience the workforce, expand my professional network, develop practical skills and enhance my reflective abilities.

Where did you work and what did you do?

I underwent my placement at the French Embassy Trade Commission, working in their commercial division ‘Business France’ as a Trade Advisor. The role entailed assisting the growth of French businesses in Australia by performing market research studies on specific industries and identifying areas of opportunity, as well as facilitating partnerships between French Businesses and Australian companies.

I worked on a number of large-scale projects, such as organising industry conferences, business to business round table workshops and international webinars. This allowed me to gain specific industry knowledge, develop interpersonal skills by building rapport with our clients and overall achieve greater confidence in my professional abilities.

What was the biggest challenge?

One of the largest challenges my team and I faced was the shift from in-person collaboration to virtual teams due to COVID-19. This reactive change meant my colleagues and I had to adopt new online systems to communicate effectively and set up productive workspaces at home to adapt to the external circumstances. The experience taught me lot including how important it is to develop clear lines of communication, how to become flexible and open to new ways of achieving tasks and that setting team goals is really helpful to stay motivated. Overall, I believe this learning opportunity was quite unique and equipped me with great skills to use in future teams which may collaborate virtually.

How did the Self-Sourced Placement Program help your career?

The placement has offered me a wide array of new experiences, such as liaising with international clients, growing accustomed to cultural challenges, organising large scale events and developing interpersonal relationships with long-term partners. It has been a highly rewarding experience as I have been able to develop skills in cultural competence, effective relationship management and timely communication. Most importantly, the placement helped me gain a perspective of what it is like to engage in a professional work environment, make friends who happen to be co-workers and gain a new social circle.

The best thing about taking on a local placement is the proud feeling of accomplishment when your colleagues acknowledge your work, as well as the fun after-work social gatherings. I would highly recommend the Self-Sourced Placement Program as it will allow you engage with a professional work environment, network with like-minded people and develop practical skills for future employment.

Students can now enrol in the Self-Sourced Placement Program for Semester 2, 2020 via Sydney Student. Learn more about the Self-Sourced Placement Program here.

1 June 2020

My Business Practicum experience: Cindy Zhang

Master of Commerce student Cindy Zhang shares her experience on the Business Practicum (BUSS1321/BUSS6104).

What was your Business Practicum experience like?

I undertook the Business Practicum as a unit of study in the Master of Commerce degree. Like other units of study, it is a 13-week experience. However, the Business Practicum is quite practical, based on the real business world.

In the first few weeks, the lecturer gave an introduction to the company we will work with. The manager from the host company also came to our class to provide us with further details and Q&A sessions.

After that, we were divided into several consulting teams to do team projects in every workshop. Throughout the semester, we did research about the company, gathered information, discussed with team members to generate innovative ideas, and asked for clarification from our client and lecturer. At the end of the semester, we were required to submit a professional report and deliver our findings to the panel at the host company.

Cindy Zhang

Where did you work and what did you do?

The project was about addressing some real issues of learning and development (L&D) function in ASG Group. The project was sponsored by ASG Group, an award-winning IT business solutions provider offering a complete digital transformation service to clients.

My role was to work as a member of the consulting team to help ASG with L&D updates, such as designing some local activities to maintain employee retention rate and boost employee morale.

In the ASG offices

What was the biggest challenge?

I think the biggest challenge was to present our ideas in front of the panel at ASG Group Sydney office. The panel consisted of 8 managers from multiple departments. The meeting was quite formal, everyone in the meeting room was listening to our presentation carefully. Following our presentation was a Q&A session. Managers asked us several questions, some of which were out of scope of what I had previously thought about. They also gave us some feedback, such as areas of improvement and good practices.

This meeting was one of the most formal meetings I have had in my life, so I felt quite nervous at the beginning. However, it taught me how to present professionally to convey my ideas and how to behave in front of a lot of people, which I think will be really helpful for my future job-seeking process. It also offered me an invaluable opportunity to network with professionals in the industry.

How did the Business Practicum help your career?

The Business Practicum helped me to apply knowledge I learned in class to real business case analysis. The unit of study coordinator encouraged us to think out of the scope and try to discover connections between our majors and HR practice. I feel grateful that this program has enhanced my problem-solving skills and business report writing capability.

One personal achievement is that I successfully got an HR internship opportunity because of this practicum. When I was being interviewed, I talked about my experience in the Business Practicum, which was quite attractive to the interviewer. I have never thought about doing HR jobs before this program, so it has really opened a new door to my future career paths.

Learn more about the Business Practicum here.

7 May 2020

My Local Placement Program experience: Joshua Sechi

Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws student Joshua Sechi shares his experience on the Local Placement Program (BUSS2100/BUSS6500).

What is the Local Placement Program?

The Local Placement Program is one of the University of Sydney Business School’s work-integrated learning programs. It’s a great way to get an internship with an amazing host company, giving you not only practical experience, but also credit toward your studies. I first found out about the program from a friend of mine who recently completed a placement which she absolutely loved and I instantly looked into how I could get involved – there aren’t many programs which provide such great practical experience, especially one you can claim as credit toward your degree.

How did you apply?

The application process is relatively straightforward and also provides great experience of what the process of applying for graduate jobs is like. You first submit an application and resume to the WIL Hub team, followed by video interviews, then a face-to-face group interview and even a one-on-one interview with a host company in some cases. Be sure to keep an eye on the application dates on the University of Sydney website – they’re usually really early in the semester and you don’t want to miss out!

Joshua Sechi

Where did you work?

I was placed as an analyst at CPE Capital – one of Australia’s leading private equity firms headquartered in the Sydney CBD. In my role I research opportune industries and potential target companies within them, as well as carry out various tasks to aid in the running of current portfolio companies. That said, everyone’s Placement Program experience is different and there are a huge variety of host companies available to suit any major!

How did the program help your career?

The experience itself was second-to-none. Unlike an ordinary internship, you can be absolutely sure you’re entering an environment that prioritises the student learning experience above all. I would say there are two key ways my placement has helped me. The first of these is those most obvious, allowing me to apply the many skills I’ve learnt at university in a practical setting. The second is something I didn’t really consider when I initially applied to the program, and that is the many soft skills which the placement allows you to practise on a daily basis, something that is arguably even more important than technical knowledge and transferrable to really any career path.

What was the best part of your placement?

The best part of my placement has undoubtably been the people. All my colleagues come from a very diverse range of backgrounds and I’ve really enjoyed working with different permutations of the team on a daily basis. It’s not only been a great way to learn from a wide range of professionals, but also showcased my host company’s amazing culture.

What advice would you give other students? 

My advice would be to really give your all to your placement. Your colleagues all genuinely want to help you learn as much as possible and an opportunity where you have such direct access to industry professionals is definitely not one to waste. I think an extension of this is to have a clear idea of what you want out of your placement going on, maybe even discussing this with your colleagues, so you can be sure you get the most of your placement experience.

Something I wasn’t aware of before applying for the program was the broad range of scholarships offered. They certainly relieve the pressure of attending an unpaid placement 3 days a week, making it easier to balance your studies and give 100% to your placement. Had I known, I may have applied in an earlier semester!

Learn more about the Local Placement Program here.

9 April 2020

University of Sydney team makes history by advancing to CFA Challenge global finals

A team of University of Sydney Business School students have become the first Australian team to advance to the CFA Institute Research Challenge global finals.

The CFA Institute Research Challenge is a one of the most prestigious finance competitions in the world, and provides university students with hands-on mentoring and intensive training in financial analysis and professional ethics.

The University of Sydney team, comprised of undergraduate students Sahil Arora, Jeffrey Brown, Jassis Chen, Tom Luo and Jessica Wu, who are all majoring in Finance, won the Asia Pacific finals after preparing a stock pitch of CBA over nine months.

Sahil Arora, Jassis Chen, Tom Luo, Jessica Wu and Jeffrey Brown

“We owe our success to the phenomenal work of our faculty mentor, Dr Angelo Aspiris, and the USYD Finance Faculty," the team said.

"Being the first Australian team to reach the global finals speaks volumes about the quality of teaching at our university and the opportunities provided to us.

"Most importantly, it highlights that we are a school of contemporary learning, able to contextualise our classroom learnings in a highly dynamic setting.”

The team will now go on to represent Asia Pacific at the global finals, which will be held via video conference on 22 April 2020.

"It has been a long and wonderful journey," Jeffrey Brown said. "We are honoured to be flying the Asia Pacific flag and for the opportunity to continue sharing our research with the wider community."