Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Power of Christmas Marketing & Problem of Overspending

Jingle bells
Jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to spend
And throw all my money away

Tis the season for Christmas shopping and everyone seem to always fall into the trap of overspending. Remain jolly and festive because we have uncovered marketers’ secrets to luring you in for those sales and the best tips for you to avoid overspending this Christmas.
Power of Christmas Marketing
Exploiting online and in-store opportunities
It’s hard to avoid those big, obnoxious signs that are constantly in your face as you walk around the shopping centres, or those pesky emails that congest your inbox. Marketers often to exploit all potential channels leading up to the Christmas season to engage and strengthen relationships with their existing and potential customers. Personalised content and use of new technology (i.e. AR advertising) through numerous social media platforms are on the rise, as it ensures consumer engagement, and builds up excitement and creates urgency surrounding this season.
Developing curated pieces

Curated creative content (i.e. White Christmas dinner party idea inspiration) is the perfect example of consumer manipulation as it creates an illusion that they need all the items in the curated piece to achieve the ideal Christmas setting. This often causes consumers to spend on unnecessary items as they neglect items that can be reused or refurbished to suit their needs, and stimulates impulse buying.
Category-related gift idea lists
“Need ideas for a gift? Be inspired”, “Find the perfect gift, every time”, “Perfect gift guide”. The bottomless pit of ‘perfect’ gift options will never curb your problem of overspending. Gifts for him, gifts under $20, gifts for food lovers, etc. appeal to all consumer types as it reduces the shopping anxiety that many experience whilst retaining engagement with the brand and their products. Marketers know these inspiration lists enhances the attractiveness of brands as it simplifies the decision-making process.
Tips to Avoid Overspending
Although these may appear to be simple and redundant, conscious effort to adhere to these tips will help in the long run.
  • Master the art of constraint and willpower
  • Refrain from rationalising your expenses – ensure that each purchase fulfils a necessary purpose
  • Avoid cases of last-minute shopping and impulse buying
  • Develop a shopping list for all Christmas-related items and stick to set budget
  • Key: online research for comparison of prices and items across multiple brands before purchasing
    • Find the cheapest price or biggest bargain!
  • Don't rush your Christmas shopping because that can result in bad purchases
  • Re-evaluate your idea of gift-giving. DIYs can be more meaningful than an expensive gift and save you money

By Cindy Ngo, current student at the University of Sydney Business School and Marketing Director of VSA USyd

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

What I learned outside the classroom

Dennis Qiu (left) with Associate Dean Rae Cooper (Centre)
at the recent Raising the Bar event.
We asked Dennis Qiu, fourth year Bachelor of Commerce (Liberal Studies) student who is majoring in marketing and biology, to tell us about his recent experience in our local Industry Placement Program with the University of Sydney.

Why did you decide to participate in the Industry Placement Program (IPP)?

I wanted to gain real-life experience in marketing at an Australian workplace. My friends who had done IPP previously spoke very highly of this opportunity.

What was your role, and what kind of projects did you work on?
My host organisation was the University of Sydney. I was a team member of Marketing and Communications in the Division of Alumni and Development (MCDAD). As an intern with no previous experience, I had the opportunity to help out with various tasks and to explore my skills and interests. There were two major projects where I spent most of my time: the annual University fundraising campaign “Pave the Way”, and an alumni celebration to be held at the launch of the new centre in Suzhou, China, officially opening in November.

What did you learn from the experience?
During the IPP I learned about things from everyday tasks such as email etiquette, to assisting with strategic projects that have significant impact for the University and wider community.

One valuable lesson I took away was the balance between being proactive and reactive. As a novice in the office, I benefited immensely from taking instructions and advice from senior colleagues. Completing assigned tasks with quality and efficiency was essential to my role in the organisation.

Beyond that, I also had the opportunity to bring my skills and knowledge to the team, and help initiate new ideas. For example, I volunteered to integrate WeChat communications into the Pave the Way campaign, which wasn’t part of the original plans. I was able to apply my Chinese social media skills and cross-cultural knowledge and help the team achieve much wider support from Chinese donors compared to the previous year’s results.

Concurrent with the completion of my degree, the IPP also prompted me to reflect on my four years’ university journey. For instance, it confirmed the belief that doing something that you are passionate about can bring you more than just intrinsic happiness. It also allowed me to apply the Chinese social media skills and cross-cultural knowledge that I developed when I was involved in a student society called the Australia-China Youth Association.

What is the most important thing you’ve taken away from your experience in the IPP?
If I had to pick the best thing out of my IPP experience, it would be the supportive colleagues. Kate, George, Ash, Anna and Jess, each of them from MCDAD mentored me and helped me enormously with my career development. “山高水长 (High as a mountain and long as a river)” is a Chinese idiom that means the influence or affection is profound and long-lasting. I think it is the perfect phrase to sum it all up. Their values and the working environment was an inspiration.

Why should other students consider doing the IPP?

IPP is an excellent opportunity for students to acquire professional skills and build connections. But I guess other IPP alumni might have learned something unique or had a different experience with the program. So hey future IPP students, find your own stories! 

I feel very lucky to have interned with MCDAD. They are all fun and energetic people. Although I felt like an awkward student at the beginning of the internship, we were a happy team by the end. And a happy team goes a long way!

By Dennis Qiu, current Bachelor of Commerce (Liberal Studies) student at the University of Sydney Business School.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Abercrombie Team: 2016 AMP University Challenge

During week 13 of semester 2 2016, Jason Ye, Willkie Tan and Jack Dillon traveled to AMP headquarters to compete in the nationally renowned AMP University Challenge as the Abercrombie team. The competition invited the nation’s top 5 competitors to a day of financial planning related challenges.

The submission heats
Before we were invited to the finals day, our team had submitted a 20-page Statement of Advice (SoA) on a fictional couple struggling to manage their financial affairs. The SoA covered a wide range topics including superannuation, investments, mortgages and insurance. Lucky for us, AMP provided a real-world fact-find document and advice template to help us put it together.
Our submission finished in the top 5 among 681 other entrants, which secured our spot for the finals!

Finals Day Challenges
The first challenge of the day was the “Who wants to be a Financial Planner” quiz. The quiz involved a difficult range of financial planner related questions in a format inspired by Eddie McGuire’s famous game show. Despite lacking any formal study in financial planning, we came first in this round! 

The next challenge involved a client role play where we would present our statement of advice in an intimate face-to-face setting. The clients were able to ask a series of questions that really went to the bones of our advice and tested our ability to think on the spot. Luckily we were provided a financial planning expert who had 20 years of experience in the industry and coached us well for the challenge.

The final challenge was a speech on how the financial planning industry could increase the uptake of financial advices services by 2021. Forecasting events 5 years into the future is by no means an easy feat, but the judges were impressed with our research across a broad range of topics such as robo advisors, online marketing and industry legacy. 

The role-play and presentation was judged by an (intimidating) panel of top academics and industry professionals with over 45 years of experience. In this era of reality television and self-gratification, their feedback was refreshingly direct and honest.

We weren’t able to get the oversized winner’s cheque unfortunately. But as Shannon Noll would tell you, there’s certainly nothing wrong with coming second.

More than just challenges
Along with the challenges, we also got to do a number of non-competition events including an “Icebreaker session” with creative therapist Kim Taylor. To describe Kim’s techniques as “unique” is a grand understatement. The variety of improvisation games certainly got rid of our nerves, but also lead to some unique acting scenarios.

We were also fortunate to be able to tour the new AMP Spark store (Google it!), which is actively disrupting the financial planning industry as I write. Last but not least, we were treated to a cocktail reception on the balcony of the AMP building overlooking stunning views of Sydney Harbour. 

To conclude
It’s crazy to think that a few months ago, none of our team knew much about financial planning outside of filling out our superannuation forms at work. But in a generation that has to decide between smashed avocados and home ownership, it’s becoming increasingly important that young people learn how to better manage their personal wealth. The challenge was a great opportunity to learn more about the financial planning industry and about how to manage my own finances better.

Looking back, I begin to realise that when we are completely free of our own expectations, the mind extends to its natural potential without impediment. I cannot thank my team enough for all the time put into the competition and I’d definitely recommend any business student grab this opportunity with both hands next year.

By Willkie Tan, current student at the University of Sydney Business School and IT Director of FINSOC Sydney.

Friday, 28 October 2016

6 tips on how to study better

It’s that time of year again, exams are almost here. The good news? You’ve got a week away from class before exams start, giving you some quality time with your textbooks. To give you a hand in getting the most out of it, we’ve scoured the earth internet to bring you some tips on how to study better.

1. Get organised
You’re probably thinking ‘well duh’, but being organised with everything you need in your chosen study space removes one excuse to leave it. We’re not just talking notes, pens and highlighters. Don’t forget some healthy snacks, a study music playlist and water to help get you through the long periods at your desk.

2. Remove distractions

You won’t like this one, but you and your iPhone (or smartphone of choice) are going to have to take a break. Knowing that another dog video is just waiting to be watched on Facebook can be hard to resist, so why not enlist the help of a website blocker like StayFocused? Removing temptations may be hard, but you’ll thank yourself for it later.

3. Don’t do it alone
No one said you have to do this by yourself, so grab your tutorial besties and organise a study session. It’s important that you actually get something out of it, so be sure to set out a list of what you want to cover during your time together and set some goals for the group to achieve. 

4. Break it up
Think cramming will get you the results you want? You’ll find breaking your study up into smaller sessions will yield a better outcome, 25-30 minutes on each task. Make sure you include some breaks – take your dog for a walk, grab a coffee with a friend or try cooking a new recipe!

5. Stay motivated
Don’t forget why you’re studying. It’s a necessary step toward achieving your long term goal – your degree! Liven up your workspace with some motivational quotes or posters. If you respond better to incentives, reward your hard work with some time to watch your favourite Netflix series or a 10 minute social media check.

6. Figure out what works for you
You might study best in the morning, or maybe night is a better fit. Some people prefer watching subject videos, others read lecture notes. Try some different options to figure out which works best for you. 

As a final tip – make sure you look after yourself. Stay hydrated, opt for some healthy snacks and get in some quality sleep. Good luck!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

China 10 years back and 10 years forward

To summarise the past ten years from an economic and business perspective, China has become globalised, radically restructured its economy and achieved unprecedented affluence.  Australia has benefitted from China’s economic growth, first through the mining boom, and now increasingly through Chinese demand for consumer goods and services.

Looking into the future, Australia will continue to benefit from its solid business relations with China as our largest trading partner, but the populist turn in the public debate on China is putting strain on the relationship. Perceptions are important, as Chinese buyers and investors can turn to Australia’s global competitors.

An economy restructured

In the early 2000’s, China was struggling to be admitted into the international trade system. Ten years later, China dominates international trade and has become a net exporter of international investment capital. The new Silk Road (One belt one road) initiative is China’s distinct regional approach to globalisation, expanding China’s economic influence into Central Asia and Southeast Asia,  where demand for Chinese technology and capital is strong.

China’s economic restructuring started under the previous leadership during the misnamed ‘lost decade’. Widespread privatisation and private as well as state sector innovation have pushed Chinese manufacturing to the cutting edge of hi-tech manufacturing across core industries. Going forward, in anticipation of a coming manufacturing revolution, China is moving away from dependence on low-cost labour.

Changing social landscape

Affluence is palpable in China’s cities and developed rural areas. Public wealth is on display in transport infrastructure and public amenities. Many residents now own apartments, cars, electronic gadgets and are able to travel overseas, study overseas, invest overseas and get healthcare overseas. They display a level of private confidence that has not been seen in a century.

However, these achievements have come at a price. Pollution, inequality and well-being are the most visible costs Chinese people have to pay for their rising living standards. Pollution of air, water and food is seriously affecting health. The government is no longer measured only by its ability to grow the economy, but for what it is doing to save the environment and there is currently a lack of trust in the government’s institutional ability to create a liveable society any time soon.

Inequality is another cost of growth that is visible and measurable by the Gini coefficient. Policies directed at solving inequality between regions and urban and rural areas have not prevented the worsening of inequality. There is also a growing awareness of a more fundamental inequality, as China’s former socialist elite morphs into capitalist elite with leading families controlling large industrial fortunes.

The low level response to surveys about well-being and personal happiness indicate that many Chinese people are not as satisfied with their situation as could be expected from the economic achievements their country has made. Concerns about health, economic insecurity and work well being remain strong and are motivating many to seek better environments overseas through property and other investments, travelling and studying in countries such as Australia.

Australia-China business – a relationship built on trust

Australia has benefitted from the economic rise of China through the mining boom, which was in fact a China boom, and since then with the ‘dining boom’ and rising Chinese demand for services. The current populist run against China in the public media overlooks how solid Australia-Chinese relations are and how much of the mutual economic benefit has been built on trust.

Australia is a trusted supplier of essential goods and the second largest recipient of global Chinese outbound investment. The two are linked, as growing trade attracts investment and in the current situation, expansion of trade with China depends on investment that opens up new trade channels.

Australia is also a trusted partner country for the education of young Chinese. Australian universities educate hundreds of thousands of Chinese students. This trust will have long-term consequences when a generation of people who were trained in Australia return to China to take up positions of responsibility.

China respects Australia for its institutions and potential contribution to stability in the region, including multilateral regional cooperation with China. When the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was set up, China and regional neighbours were keen to make Australia one of the founding members because of its strong institutions.

The populist debate shows the weaknesses in Australian perceptions of China. Media reporting and general knowledge about the working of China’s government and corporate sector are weak. If economic forecasts are based on financial news analysis that reflects mature Western markets, it is easy to depict China in a permanent economic crisis.

The road ahead

Where will we be in ten years’ time? Based on current trends, we will be in a world where mineral resources play less of a role and where China will have lost much of its international advantage in manufacturing.

The resulting environment will be much more competitive than it is now. The advantage that Australia has over Chinese domestic competitors will be eroded over time when Chinese industries are catching up in markets such as health care, financial services, agribusiness and education.

As our trade becomes smarter and more service oriented, there will be more competition from the United States, Europe, Japan and Latin America. China is already channelling much more investment in services into the United States than into Australia.

Certainly our integration in global value chains will be dominated by China as a global producer and consumer market. Australia will increasingly be a provider of intermediate products and services and therefore dependent on Chinese markets.

If we manage to preserve a peaceful environment over the next decade, the likelihood is that Australia will be actively integrated in regional cooperation and dealing with a dominant China in a collective framework, rather than on purely bilateral basis.

By Hans HendrischkeProfessor of Chinese Business and Management at the University of Sydney Business School

Monday, 17 October 2016

5 insights that can help any startup succeed

Confident, creative and conscientious – these are qualities that describe a successful startup founder. But what qualities determine a successful startup?
At the Business School Innovation Hub’s October Insights into Startups panel we asked five experts to help break down the making of a successful startup:
  • Cameron Barnes (Expert-in-Residence),
  •  Jenni Catterson (China Business Consultant),
  • Tye van Dyk (KPMG Deals Advisor),
  • Tom Griffin (Allens Accelerate Lawyer); and
  • Matt Schiller (Gowntown and Snappr Founder).
When thinking about startups and innovation many of us look for an inspired idea that will transform the way we live – how we listen to music, connect with friends or travel. Startups have changed the way we do all of these things and have grown into companies like Apple, Facebook and Airbnb. However if you look at the trajectory of these, now industry-dominating, businesses they had more than just a great idea to secure a spot at the top.

Here are five insights from our panel discussion that will help any startup succeed:

1. The bad idea.
Telling a bad idea from a good idea is more difficult than it initially sounds. Sometimes ideas that people think are terrible right now become the future of business (e.g. Uber, Airbnb, Tesla). If you can pick one of these ideas you’re in a great place because most people and businesses only look at obviously good ideas. 

2. It’s top secret.
Founders can be notoriously cagey about their ideas going to extraordinary lengths to patent their technologies, trademark their brand and gag their employees with non-disclosure agreements. Seeking wise legal counsel early on is important to take a targeted (and reasonable) approach to advancing your interests. Importantly, remember that hard work, quality execution and speedy implementation are often underappreciated routes to startup success!

3. Money? Money. Money!
One of the biggest concerns for startup founders is funding. There are two things that founders need to get right. First, don’t undervaluate your potential when seeking investment. There are many examples of founders who almost (or did) sell a share of their company at a basement bargain valuation. Second, it’s difficult to say no to funding but avoid overfunding your startup. This can result in tardy spending practices that do more harm than good in future funding rounds.

4. The product is (not?) good enough.
Startup founders sometimes overprioritse quality and underprioritise efficiency. There’s a balance to be sought and founders should keep asking whether they’ve reached a minimal viable product. Asking customers, that is, not themselves! Start user testing early on so that you get real time feedback on the development of your product/service from kind-of functional prototype to version 1.0 release. Early adopting consumers are your target and you need to find out from them whether it’s ready to buy. Don’t develop a sophisticated version 1.0 only to find out that no one wants to buy it … ever!

5. Don’t trust Hollywood!
The Silicon Valley isn’t the only place to succeed as a founder. Knowledge agglomeration effects are real from co-locating with other leading startups (at least it probably is) but founders should evaluate this decision carefully. Startup culture can be found in a number of cities around the world but this won’t neccesarily compensate for a poorly executed idea, super expensive operating costs or entering the wrong market. Pick the right market, for the right product, with the right execution.

James Meade is the Innovation Hub Manager at The University of Sydney Business School. You can contact James at or find out more about how we promote and support startups on the Hub Website. 

Friday, 14 October 2016

A new kind of competition that could win you $1m USD - Hult Prize @ The University of Sydney

How do you use the power of student innovation and collaboration for the greater good on a world-wide platform?

Interested? Find out more information and register at: or follow all the details at:

What is the Hult Prize?
The Hult Prize is the world’s largest student competition and start-up platform for social good. In partnership with former President Bill Clinton, this innovative crowdsourcing platform identifies and launches disruptive and catalytic social ventures that aim to solve the planet’s most pressing challenges. Student teams of 3-4 compete around the world for a chance to secure US$ 1 million in startup funding to launch a sustainable social venture.

The 2017 Hult Prize will focus on Reawakening Human Potential –

How can we build sustainable, scalable social enterprises that reduce the human cost of involuntary migration and restore the rights and dignity of 10 million refugees by 2022?

Who are we looking for?
To compete, you can be a student of any sort – undergraduate, postgraduate, local, international, and from ANY faculty. Teams are made up of 3-4 University of Sydney students (with up to 1 Alumni member).

Come to our Information Evening to learn more (snacks and drinks provided):
Registrations close 13 November 2016.

What does the program look like?
The Hult Prize @ The University of Sydney is supported by the Sydney Social Innovation Hub (‘SSIH’) in the Business School of the University.

We are taking students through an intensive workshop program from late October to early December. These include:
1. The Art of Pitching
2. Ask the entrepreneur
3. Business Modelling for success
4. Mock Pitching and Mentor Round Robin

Student teams will also be given the opportunity to go into 30 minute ‘Drop in’ Consults with SSIH where they can build and test their ideas in an incubator type environment.

Once students register at:, the will be send a welcome package, which includes everything you need to know about the competition and the program, and the 2017 Challenge.    

The Campus Finals
Date: 6 December 2016
Time: 5:00pm (Pitching) and 7:30pm (Networking)
Location: Abercrombie Business School, University of Sydney.
We’ll be releasing tickets soon at:

What is the benefit of competing?
The winning team will receive a host of rewards worth over $15,000 that will help them build a social enterprise that will change people’s lives:
- An all-expenses paid trip to the Regionals in San Francisco in 2017 – fast-tracked past 20,000 applicants around the world
- Professional Industry and university mentoring and coaching
- An accelerator program run by industry experts

Following the regional finals, one winning team will attend a summer business accelerator, where participants will receive mentorship, advisory and strategic planning as they create prototypes and set-up to launch their new social business. A final round of competition will take place in September, where one team will be selected as the winner and will be awarded the US$ 1,000,000 seed capital by President Bill Clinton himself.

Words from the 2015 Winners (‘Clear Solutions’) with Harry Heo, Jun Park and and Jason Xu
“The Hult Prize was a larger and more prestigious competition than we had originally knew. Hundreds of teams from countries all over the world compete, and the winning team is awarded $1 million USD in seed funding and an opportunity to meet Ex-President Bill Clinton to implement their visions. Our team, Clear Solutions, stepped up to the challenge with a vision, excited to create a business that would solve the issue of crowded urban spaces.

We networked and met with teams from 21 countries in Shanghai, all motivated to make a difference. It is incredible to think that the world’s leading universities are all in one place, driven by a united purpose. The most surprising thing about our experience in Shanghai was the calibre of students and their dedication to their business ideas.

The ideas presented were excellent, ranging from mobile apps that enliven food culture with crowded urban spaces on one hand, to 3D printing on the other

We will be very excited to see the presentations for this year and wish all teams the best of luck!”
Harry Heo

Your organising committee:
Campus Director: Mark Jeyaraj
Marketing Director: Tracey He
Partnerships Director: Vishal Uppal
Judges Coordinator: Kritika Joon
Teams Coordinator: Michelle Yang
Events Coordinator: Kundai Khuleya
Partnerships Advisor: David Kĭnyua
Marketing Subcom: Emma Cleary
Marketing Subcom: Vince Lam
Partnerships Subcom: Nick Johnson
Business Society Advisors: Anthony Maka Daniel Blay
2015 Winner Advisor: Harry Heo

Express your interest by 13 November 2016 at:

For more information visit:

By Tracey He, Marketing Director at Hult Prize @ The University of Sydney