Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Why leadership prevails over your WAM

The moment you sit in your first graduation job interview, your potential employer isn’t looking at your WAM or your academic achievements. They’re looking for an entrepreneurial character to help grow their business. That’s why when you see them clicking their pens or not writing anything down, it’s a cue to move on. Tell them explicitly what makes you different.


Leadership. It is the most employable skill, as leadership experiences can’t be solely studied.

So what exactly is WAM?

Weighted Average Mark; a non-experience based numerical assessment of work ethic assigned to all enrolled students.

To an employer, it can tell them how much of a high-achiever you may be. They wouldn’t know if you’ve crammed content the night before. Or how many all nighters you’ve pulled thus far. Let’s be frank: it’s just a number. Like ATAR. It does not encompass you as a character.

So why leadership?

First impressions count. It gets your foot in the door.  How one presents themself as self-aware through communication differentiates them from the rest of the graduate employment market. They’re looking for people who will make the best fit for their workplace. Someone who can communicate their ideas clearly and confidently.

Unless you’re superhuman, you’re probably not going to start off your first graduate job as the perfect worker. Your employer knows that. That’s why initiative is desirable. They will be asking themselves, “Is this candidate willing to challenge themself and learn new things?” When people see you with initiative, they see you as someone who can take charge and be dependable. Only through a self-development mindset can you experience true professional growth. After all, experience cannot be studied.

Regardless of the field, teamwork is the definitive quality of a desirable employee. It doesn’t matter how good you are on paper. Selflessness is good teamwork. A realisation of collective aspirations beyond one’s self and working to common ends is what employers can’t do without. Think of it as nailing the theoretical components. Only achieving on a theoretical level is not as pleasing as an individual with practical experience.

Harnessing opportunities to ascertain your future pathway remains in and out of the connections you foster and maintain. Building bridges with not only professionals, but also students from diverse backgrounds and experiences canvasses a network for future collaboration and impact. Glue yourself to a suite of possibilities with extensive networks. It’ll land you jobs deemed to be out of reach.

AIESEC: Your Gateway to Leadership
AIESEC is the largest student run organisation in the world, facilitating students with volunteering and internship exchanges in over 125 partnered countries since 1948.

From Kofi Annan (Former Secretary General of the UN) to Neil Janin (Global Director, McKinsey and Co.), participants of the Global Leader program have paved new pathways for communities, businesses and lives around the world.

AIESEC spearheads its members into an immersive environment with developmental space to enhance practical skills in areas such as business development, marketing, finance and human resources. 

So why leadership over WAM?
Employers don’t reduce the company's future to a number. They will find value in your capacity to impact as an innovative leader.

Be prepared the next time you head in for an interview. Loosen your grip on the inky CV. An interviewer seeks experience prepared by the opportunities you seize here and now. All the doors close itself eventually. Initiate the start to your future, work with potentially prominent figures of the world and expand your network.

Good luck.

Solenna Fu
Current student at the University of Sydney and Public Relations Officer, AIESEC Sydney

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Our adventures in Paris begin

I write this blog post on the Eurostar as it zooms to London after surviving my first week of the Paris International Placement Program (IPP). Last weekend, twenty undergrads and postgrads from the Business School descended upon Paris, some even managing to squeeze in trips to Lisbon and Barcelona enroute. Travel is an obvious perk of the program and we intended to make the most of it!

Seine River, 9:30pm

But it’s not all play without hard work. The first days were long with work placements from 9am to 5pm and after that, French language classes and European Union studies lectures at Sciences Po until 9pm. Thankfully, summer is Paris means sunset at 10:30pm, so you’d hardly notice that you’ve just survived an intellectually stimulating and physical (walking, hopping on-off the Metro) 12-hour day. After class, we could still go for a wander to take photos, have dinner at a cafe (cheese and wine, if you prefer) and pick up groceries on the way back to our hotel. Unfortunately, shopping the mid-year sales is only possible on weekends. There’s only so much you can fit into a day in Paris!

Sciences Po
The first week of working aboard was eventful. My supervisor turned out be based in Berlin, which although unexpected, is beginning to teach me skills on remote working relationships. All my colleagues are French and speak only French during lunchtimes, which is good incentive to work harder on my French!

Sciences Po Courtyard

I get to walk past the Louvre every day (not many can say this!) enroute to classes at Sciences Po which start at 6pm. French architecture is spectacular and you have to experience the scale of the buildings, boulevards and bridges in person, as photos taken on your iPhone fail to do it justice. The city is steeped in history - my office shares the same laneway as the house where Mozart spent his last days, while famous European treaties were signed merely a few blocks away from our classroom in Sciences Po.


Undoubtedly, the highlight of the week for all of us was the visit to the Australian Embassy where we met with Ambassador Stephen Brady, who graciously hosted us at his residence and was very generous with his time. He shared his insights on the globalisation of the workforce for our generation and candidly took us through his career path and the complexities of his role in the hopes of encouraging us to consider an intellectually rewarding career in international relations. We spent over two hours at the 800m2 residence which overlooked the Tour Eiffel and admired the stunning Aboriginal and modern Australian art and interior design which was truly representative of Australian identity. A special thank you from all of us to Carson for making the meeting with Ambassador Brady possible!

Australian Embassy

Bon weekend as we venture off on our first weekend in Europe - London, Munich, Prague, Rouen and Versailles are just some of the destinations that our group will cover in the next 48 hours. Next week we will be moving from our hotel accommodation to Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris (Cité U for short) to immerse ourselves in Parisian student life. A bientot!

Farah Tan
Current student at the University of Sydney Business School and participant in the International Placement Program in Paris, France

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Shared Value: a step towards doing well by doing good

By Thomas Wylob, Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) 
Current student at the University of Sydney Business School
After nearly two decades of globalization, privatization and free trade, the global economy has been left with mixed results. An economy still feeling the aftershocks of a global financial crisis, recession, poverty, increasing inequality, climate change and loss in biodiversity, has exemplified the interdependency of business and society, and the need to avoid returning to ‘business as usual’.

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Chairman of the World Economic Forum, proclaimed in the New York Times, “What we are currently experiencing with the financial crisis and its consequences is the birth of a new era - a wake-up call to overhaul our institutions, our systems and, above all, our thinking”.

In response to this political, social and corporate upheaval in systems thinking, corporations have shifted towards a more inclusive conceptualisation of value creation. Whereby sustainability has become the new source of competitive advantage, and the phrase ‘Doing Well by Doing Good’, historically perceived as beyond the scope of business, is now being investigated as a potential avenue forward for businesses moving into the 21st Century.

This shift towards a more sustainable mindset has been in part initiated by new programs and courses at top educational institutions. As the leaders of today challenge traditional perceptions of good business practice, they are helping to equip the business leaders of tomorrow with new skill sets to make a difference in the world.

The often quoted Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”, which has heavily resonated with me, and I believe it can be quite representative of the outlook for many millennials.

Top graduates are beginning to look beyond just work-life balance, comparing and selecting companies based on the positive impact they are having on the world. The mission of companies, likewise, is increasingly becoming of great importance in attracting the top graduates from around the world, as the desire to make a difference and leave a legacy has become a key driver in directing the decisions of young millennials.

Even at the bachelor level, a greater emphasis is being placed on being a force of good. Increased research and resources have been directed at uncovering new and sustainable forms of value creation. Currently being researched in my honours thesis, shared value is one new concept that integrates this new way of thinking.
Adopted by big multinational corporations such as Nestlé, GE, IBM and Unilever, shared value looks to adopt the capitalist model in addressing and solving social needs and challenges.

What we look to contribute to is creating a theoretical baseline to this concept. By providing a more comprehensive and succinct definition, academic and businesses alike will be able to more effectively isolate it’s applicability to their organisations, eventually progressing research in the future to include the question – How can it be implemented? And how can shared value add value to my business? These are the key questions industry leaders and business managers seek to understand.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Think Big with Big Data

By Xiaofei Wang and Bohan Huang, current students at the University of Sydney Business School, and participants in the Big Data Competition. The Competition, run by the Business School in partnership with Woolworths, challenged students to use real time data about the sales of some of their most popular product lines to predict weekly sales. 

The Big Data Competition was a great opportunity to apply our business knowledge to predict product sales at different Woolworths stores. It offered us a taste of data analysis, and helped us to focus on what we really want by allowing us to apply our knowledge in real business practice.

As members of one of the winning teams (out of a total of 271 teams and 696 participants), we'd would like to share some of our reflections:

Team work
Our team members came from diverse backgrounds and areas of specialisation. We used our complementary academic knowledge to generate different ideas, as well as support different views. In our team, Xiaofei Wang was responsible for summarising our viewpoints, data testing and model application. Bohan Huang was good at finding patterns and building the models. Donghua Han focused on correlation coefficiency analysis and hypothetical testing. We let each member do their part and learned from each other. We carefully considered whether each idea was effective. Our team combined different options, gradually improved them and finally made them feasible.

We also kept a reasonable level of competition in the team. For example, we shared and discussed our views, debating over each carefully. We often first established different models, then we compared them. To choose the most appropriate model, we discussed not only the test results, but also the advantages of the models. Through these processes, we remained efficient and a competitive position.

Application of business knowledge
There were two accounting students and one commerce student in our team. However, no one in our team had a data mining and analysis background, or experience before this competition. Compared to business analysis or quantitative business students, our advantages were our understanding of business from the financial perspective, as well as our Excel skills. For example, analysing financial statements and calculating financial ratios helped us to explore the most appropriate models. Our weakness was a lack of quantitative business knowledge. So we gradually built a series of models that were simple and easy to integrate with each other, and most importantly, suitable for us to use. In the end, the models proved accurate and effective.

In the first round, we tried a variety of models, but none of them were satisfactory and we were lagging behind another team. But our team never gave up. We set a goal for ourselves and built quantitative knowledge as we went. We looked for appropriate models and improved the results. We fully used the submission opportunities and successfully achieved the top position in the first week on the public board. This moment largely encouraged us and helped us to keep trying to achieve the best performance we could, ultimately leading to our overall success.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Big Data Competition

By Hao Fu, current student at the University of Sydney Business School, and participant in the Big Data Competition. The Competition, run by the Business School in partnership with Woolworths, challenged students to use real time data about the sales of some of their most popular product lines to predict weekly sales.

The Big Data Competition was a great experience, and one which I found very meaningful.

One of the most valuable aspects of the competition was the opportunity to work in a team. As the old saying goes, “two heads are better than one” - more brain power brings more success. I would not have been able to achieve the same result on my own. Working with my teammates, Tori and Christopher, determined our success.

Tolerance and understanding are keys to successful group dynamics. As English is not my first language, it can be hard to express my ideas clearly in this type of setting. The patience and kindness my group members showed was so helpful.

The first week was a challenge, and we didn’t get back great results. But as each week passed, we were able to improve. The competition wasn’t just about the results, but also the process. We used many methods to predict the sales, and also did some online research about promotion and sales. I found myself growing obsessed with the statistics – as they weeks went on, they weren’t boring and rigid anymore.

Overall, it was a wonderful experience. I learned that teamwork, working hard and making the most of opportunities is the key to success.

I also really appreciate my group members, and thank the Big Data Competition for giving me two good friends.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Culinary Tales

By Ceewing Tsui, Culinary Tales Project Director, current student at the University of Sydney Business School and member of Enactus Sydney - a community of students, academics and business leaders committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better, more sustainable world.

Who doesn’t love a good story accompanying good food? Culinary Tales, an initiative of Enactus Sydney, provides a unique cooking class experience. In our Culinary Tales classes, our customers learn authentic recipes from a variety of exotic cuisines, including regions such as Yemen, Nigeria, India and Tibet, from our refugee chefs, while hearing their stories. Be whisked away on a culinary journey as you hear the stories behind their own experiences.

“I am thankful to Enactus for giving me the chance to cook and share my recipes.” - Tashi (Culinary Tales Chef)

The beauty of food lies in its universality; its power to forge connections between a diverse range of cultures. Upon attending a Culinary Tales class, you gain an insight into a new culture and the experiences of a refugee. When you arrive at the cooking class, you will be greeted by one of our lovely refugee chefs (RCs) and a host of fellow class members with whom you will have a truly memorable time.

Then, when you learn to cook the dishes, you will also find out about the personal stories embedded in the traditional dishes you are making, and experience the feeling of home that each of our chefs bring to their recipes. Once you have made the dishes, you will also get to share an amazing meal together and learn more about each other!

“Despite all hardships, my passion for cooking continued to grow.” - Joan (Culinary Tales Chef)

What is unique to Culinary Tales classes is that you get a hands-on experience in cooking new and exotic cuisines together with other locals, whilst listening to the chefs’ inspiring stories. The Culinary Tales experience isn’t just about learning new cuisines, it’s about connecting with new cultures and refugees.

Our classes are located at the Lane Cove Living and Learning Centre (180 Longueville Rd, Lane Cove). Be sure to give us a like on Facebook and check out our website to keep updated on upcoming classes that will be advertised soon!

About Culinary Tales
Unfortunately, there is a high rate of unemployment amongst newly settled refugees even if they are highly skilled or qualified. This is why Culinary Tales is aimed at improving the employability, skills, and integration of these refugees into the larger Australian community, via a standalone cooking class business, which hopes to promote their uniquely diverse culinary experiences and culture.

Culinary Tales provides refugees with work experience by employing them to help run a cooking class to showcase their exotic cuisines. Food has a tangible role in forging links to connect a diverse range of cultures. Not only can we share the ways of cooking of refugees, we can also share their stories with the wider community.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

The Top Five Benefits of International Internships

Choosing to intern globally is a big decision to make. It’s not only a choice to commit yourself to a new professional atmosphere, but to change entirely your daily habits of food, culture and social life for a time.  It’s like going hiking in high altitudes – your body needs time to acclimatize and it may be difficult initially, but you are no doubt going to emerge a better hiker when you’re finished.

The rewards of training in new environments are plentiful, but what are the top five rewards of global internships?

It grows the initiative muscle
Initiative is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger and more efficient it becomes. It’s a big step to jump on a plane and voluntarily shift your time zone, let alone commit to an internship in a new and exotic land. When interning overseas, you no longer have your deeply knit friends or family watching over your shoulder. You are in charge of yourself and all things get done only if you proactively choose to do them.

Living in a new culture
The great thing about travelling overseas is how much it allows us to learn about the world beyond the society we happened to be born into. In an even more profound way, international work experience is a chance to not only learn about a foreign culture, but to live in the heart of it. Have you ever thought about who you would be if the dice roll of nature had been different? What if you were born into an entirely different culture? This question can’t actually be answered, but global internships provide a nice experimental gaze into other cultural realities.

A CV more interesting than your average bear
Take two candidates for a graduate engineering position, Bob and Bill. They have roughly similar grades and extra-curriculars. The only difference is that Bob interned in Australia whilst Bill worked for a company in Vietnam. Before the filtering process of an interview, Bill is a little more intriguing – he stands out. He signals a more interesting candidate, one who takes initiative and is curious about self-development.

New friends, new ideas
Making friends overseas is fun because every conversation is potentially a challenge to your entire way of viewing the world. New jokes, food and dance are all great benefits – but even more profound is the exciting novelty of a new climate of friendship.

Coming back a superhero
Returning from their internships, participants often say that they feel like new people – like their dreams and visions for the world are somehow so much closer than they’ve ever been. This sense of agency and courage is nothing short of super hero status – you feel like a new person because you are a new person.


AIESEC’s Global Talent

AIESEC is a student run institution that organizes international internships and volunteering opportunities. Operating in over 125 different countries, Global Talent offers internships in young and gunning startups, all the way to big game multinationals. Internships can range from six weeks to two years, depending on what a candidate is looking for in their placement. AIESEC Sydney operates from campus and exists to facilitate the wonderful experience of global internships for University of Sydney students.

We live in the best time to be alive. The world has always been large and endless, and yet today it is firmly in the palm of our hands, if that’s how we want it to be. In the old days, if you were born a cultured German, you remained a cultured German – and might not have even acknowledged that something outside of your part of Germany existed. Today, not only can we skype anyone from anywhere – we can travel abroad to live, work, eat and laugh amongst them.

Ninos Mansor
Current student at the University of Sydney and PR Manager, AIESEC Sydney