31 May 2016

20 hours in Auckland: The Beta Alpha Psi 2016 Oceania Regional Conference

What do you do when you only have 20 hours to spend in Auckland? Catch a taxi from the airport to the hotel. Stay up till 3am finishing off a presentation. Try and grab breakfast the next morning at Carl’s Jr to realise it’s closed, and going to Starbucks instead. Attend a conference. Deliver that presentation you stayed up till 3am finishing off. Catch a taxi back to the airport.

This was my whirlwind experience of Auckland, my first taste of what the life of a businessman might actually entail. But why was I spending 20 hours there in the first place? 
Well…a little society called Beta Alpha Psi. 
Well…it’s not really a small society.

Let’s start from the beginning. Beta Alpha Psi is an honorary organisation for students and professionals in the accounting, finance and business information field, providing a forum for collaboration, teaching and professional and personal development. Our society is but one chapter of an international network of other chapters across the US, Australia and New Zealand.

What I was actually attending was the 2016 Oceania Regional Meeting at the University of Auckland, alongside two other executives from The University of Sydney chapter, Lambda Omega, and members across Australia and New Zealand. Throughout the conference, we were all encouraged to ‘Unleash our Potential’ with panels and workshops from industry leaders like CPA, CA (NZ), KPMG, MYOB and BAP Faculty Advisors. These covered everything from business negotiation skills, to industry stories, to even a consulting challenge, all of which bolstered our repertoire of experience and which all of us are definitely keen to apply back in Sydney.

Now, that presentation I was staying up till 3am the night before finishing off? That was an entry into the Deloitte Best Practices Competition that Beta Alpha Psi runs annually where different chapters compete to present their projects and innovative ideas on specific topics. This year, the topic centred on ‘Alignment of Officer Duties’ and the opportunity to share some of the really exciting developments we’ve made in streamlining our society, definitely made up for the lost hours of sleep. What’s better, we managed to progress through to the next round which will involve presenting in Baltimore later this year.

To round things up we even partook in a service event: knitting (or in my case, trying and failing to knit) woollen squares for custom blankets to be distributed to charities across Auckland. It was there that I shared stories, experiences and aspirations with fellow members from Auckland, Wellington and Sydney, a bonding process which transcended any of my expectations of what the conference would be.

Sitting on the plane back to Sydney half asleep and completely drained of my energy I couldn’t stop mulling over the incredible people I’d met, fascinating panels I’d listened to and challenging activities I’d engaged with in just the space of a day. Looking ahead, we’ll be attending the National Conference in Baltimore later this year and beyond that (and somehow slightly more disconcertingly), hosting the 2017 Regional Conference. But for now, nerves aside, I’m just excited to share my experience with the rest of our Chapter and see where and how we can grow. 

Edward Chang
Current student at The University of Sydney Business School and Membership Officer of The Business school society, Beta Alpha Psi 

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