Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Beyond Borders

Australian: “How you going?”
American: “Are you asking where I am going?”

These minor colloquial differences such as the usage of words like: ‘mate’ ‘keen’ ‘heaps’ ‘uni’ ‘flatmates’ 'jumper' and ‘doona’ add to a gnarley cultural clash between the United States and Australia.

My name is Jennifer Crane and I am a third-year communication studies major and environmental systems and society minor from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).  I have received the privilege to study abroad here at the University of Sydney for one semester, and I couldn’t be more excited!

So far, my adventures in Australia have given me more than I could have ever dreamed. I have made heaps of new mates (to use the Aussie lingo), that I can already tell will be lifelong friends of mine.

The Australians I have met have been nothing but kind and helpful. I still cannot believe the amount of information Australians are willing to share with me, however ignorant my questions about Aussie culture may be.

Every weekend spent in this magnificent country has been eventful and daring. I have tried to keep active, may it be venturing out to a national park for some hiking, surfing at 7 Mile Beach, or just going out to pubs with friends. *Future plans include snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, hiking and skydiving in New Zealand and a road trip along the coast with mates.

In addition, I have been exploring Australia’s natural beauty with my mates in the class “Learning in Outdoor Education.” During these last couple weeks we received the opportunity to venture out to the Royal National Park and the Blue Mountains for a three day hike. The experience was absolutely incredible, and as such, led to a lot of self-reflection of my own life and personal growth.

A couple of mates and I taking a break along a river bed in the Blue Mountains

My time spent at the University of Sydney has proven to be significantly different than my home university in terms of the academics. I have found the work here to be structured differently than what I am normally used to. Although there are less assignments due, they are graded a lot more heavily compared to having more assignments with a different grading scale. The study vacations, woven into the semester, have proved to be beneficial. I am able to explore Australia and recharge so as to prepare myself for a focused and productive time at Uni.

At UCLA, our quarters are composed of 10 weeks and are very stressful. We usually always have some sort of exam or essay due every week throughout the quarter since it is relatively short. Unlike the University of Sydney, we do not have as many study vacations (which I wish we did!).

I have found the “tutes” (tutorials) to be much like my discussions back home minus the classroom presentations. The tutorials are definitely helpful and a great way to receive clarification on lectures and facilitate debate about relevant topics to the course.

Although my time is short, there’s one lesson I have learned from it all.

With an open heart and an open mind, we may find comfort in knowing there's always a silver lining of human kindess and compassion that runs far beyond borders.

A panorama view of the Blue Mountains as I self-reflect on my time in Australia

Jennifer Crane
Current student at the University of Sydney and Marketing & Communications Intern at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Inside Enterprise: Founding a Student Business Journal

In June 2013, a group of enthusiastic students and I took the first steps in implementing an idea I had toyed with for some time: starting a business publication that was entirely student-run, informing a readership that spanned several Australian Universities and which would inspire business students through the practical tips and insights gained from successful industry professionals. Six months later and the first issue of Inside Enterprise was released, launched with the ethos of ‘Informing and inspiring the next generation of business leaders.’ Our founding vision was to become a platform that bridged the world of university-taught theory and that of real-world business. This publication would ensure that every student could have free, regular access to a host of experiences and tools that could help them translate their ideas into reality. Our inaugural issue was themed ‘The Gamechanger’ – reflective of Inside Enterprise's belief that successful business people are often more than great thinkers: they are brilliant communicators who can inspire change through the very power of their words and ideas.

The greatest challenge in starting something ambitious like this with no experience or funds and a team comprising initially of only my friends, was gaining credibility from the people whose help we most sorely needed. We were fortunate enough to secure sponsorship from the University of Sydney Business School and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia which made printing 2,000 copies of the first issue and 5,000 copies of the second issue realisable. We were also very lucky to find designers, editors and IT directors from the pool of talented students whom we accessed via newsletters, word of mouth and social media. It was very reassuring to know that there were so many people who perceived value in the publication and wanted to become involved in any way possible.

Beyond publishing and distributing two print issues a year across four major universities in Sydney, we operate a website ( that features additional student-produced content entrenched within the business world. We also run writers workshops and training days every semester to help our writers produce better quality content.

The success of issue one owed largely to the assistance given by many of our partner societies, such as AIESEC, UNIT and the Sydney Marketing Society (SMS), who helped us distribute and get word of our publication out to the public. Every day we continue to think of ways to tighten our internal processes, improve our publication and expand in new directions to make a greater impact on our readership and to in turn enable them to more effectively impact us. There is simply no experience more educational and rewarding than that of creating something that adds value – whether it be a business, a product or a publication.

Jenny Huang
Current student at the University of Sydney Business School

Thursday, 14 August 2014

A Taste of America, Summer Study Abroad

How the time flies. Just over six weeks ago, I had just finished my Sydney Uni exams and jumped onto a plane bound for LA. It was there that I was to spend six weeks studying and travelling. Now that I am back in Sydney, I’m launching straight back into semester (my final semester too!) with an abundance of new friendships, experiences and knowledge acquired from studying at UCLA.

So what were some of the key things that I took away from it? Well, one thing was the cultural differences and differences in slang between the American and Australian way of conversing. Even though I was aware of this to a small extent beforehand, living there and interacting with American classmates and locals really made these differences more prevalent, so discovering these differences was interesting.

I also really enjoyed living on campus. Not only did it mean not having to commute to class, but UCLA really was a beautiful campus and a great university, proud of its athletes and its reputation (mention USC to any UCLA student and they’d tell you all about the great rivalry between the two universities). Although I didn’t get a chance to participate in any of the sporting activities myself, I really did enjoy my classes. Perhaps one of the reasons why was because I was studying something totally different to my usual field of Marketing and International Business. In fact, I decided I would try my hand at two subjects from the Arts faculty: Public Art in LA (a Mexican studies class) and Medical Ethics (a Philosophy class). Both were really great in giving me a better understanding of America’s history and its subsequent contemporary values and beliefs. For instance, each week our Public Art class went to a different mural or public artwork to observe and analyse the artistic techniques and historical significance of the work. By contrast, the Medical Ethics class involved a lot of discussion and debate about what was morally right or wrong about taboo subjects such as euthanasia, abortion, enhancement and so forth. Studying each of these subjects gave me great insight into different ways of writing, reading, arguing, problem solving, etc. all of which were very different to the styles that I had grown accustomed to in my Business degree. I think this was what I really valued about this experience overall.

Generally speaking therefore, I am glad that I’ve undertaken the program because it’s given me greater perspective into my strengths, interests, and ambitions of perhaps working or studying (a postgrad course) in America one day. It’s certainly been another stepping stone for me in understanding where I ‘fit in’ in the global market.  Only time will tell when the next time will be when I return to America with a new and improved purpose.

A few of the other participants, also from Sydney Uni, who I developed close friendships with.

The campus was really well-maintained. The only downside was that it was a huge campus, meaning that most of us had hilarious stories of getting lost and walking into class late during our first week.
Christine Ma
Current student at the University of Sydney Business School

Monday, 11 August 2014

Discovering New Forms of Business

Corporate Social Responsibility has been an idea embedded into the pores of business foundation classes from the start.

At the same time, I felt like it was more of an elaborate marketing ploy. Businesses are concerned with making a profit, I reasoned. Why would they willingly participate in extra activities and practices that would add extra costs?

It wasn’t until I stumbled across ‘social enterprise’ that I truly understood the implications that this CSR could have for business.

In the most basic of ways, social enterprises are the best mix of not-for-profits and businesses. It’s a term describing an organisation that has business operations (sale of goods/services) but exists or works towards a humanitarian benefit.

Why is it great? It enables organisations to create sustainable change without having to rely on donations or grants.

My first run with the term was about one and a half years ago, when I joined a youth-run social enterprise called AIESEC.

AIESEC’s social mission is to develop global youth leaders, and empower young people to make a positive change, while its business operations are focused on facilitating the international experiences that enable young people to develop those leadership capacities.

Interestingly, I was a ‘customer’ of AIESEC before I joined the organisation itself.

In the summer of 2012, I went on an AIESEC volunteering exchange, spending six weeks in Sri Lanka facilitating soft-skill training sessions for university students. 

From exploring a different culture, meeting like-minded youth from across the world, and working alongside locals on projects directly impacting their community, the experience challenged me to think differently about the world and how we can all play a part in making it a better place.

Working alongside more than 40 young people from 10 different countries!

I can definitely vouch for how much the life-changing experience has impacted me, and how gaining insight into not only how a social enterprise works, but also experiencing it firsthand has elucidated that businesses can care about more than just their profit margins.

As young people, I feel like many of us want to work for something that’s actually making a positive impact, but may be unsure of how we can develop or utilise our business skills to do so.

My answer? Discover the world of social enterprise, where business is moving more towards ‘creating shared value’ as opposed to ’corporate social responsibility’.

In a legitimately unbiased way, I think it’s really encouraging that the Business School here at the University of Sydney offers a Community Placement Program which enables students to learn and work for a social enterprise and be recognised for their learning in an accredited course (BUSS2503, 6 units of study), as well as many other subjects on social entrepreneurship and community service.

For more real life examples of social enterprises check out Thankyou Group, which sell things like bottled water to fund clean water projects in third world countries and TOMS Shoes, which donate a pair of shoes for each pair sold to a child in need.

Helen Chan
Current student at the University of Sydney Business School

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Shanghai Study Abroad Program: Student Reflections

Six weeks in Shanghai flew by as a short-term study abroad student at Fudan University. This pilot program was organised by the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, and offered to students in the Business School and Arts Faculty.

As part of the program, 17 University of Sydney students completed a four-week intensive summer school at Fudan University, which is renowned as one of China’s leading universities. Students studied a variety of courses such as Chinese Diplomacy and politics, Chinese civilisation, Chinese art, and international business. Our study schedule also included daily Mandarin lessons that catered to all experience levels, from beginners to advanced. Most students received up to 12 credit points for taking these units, and all added real value and international experience to their degree. 

Another major component of this program was a series of site visits to Chinese business, government and non-government organisations led by US Studies Centre staff. These site visits enabled our group to enjoy presentations, discussion sessions and participate in debates with professionals working in Shanghai. Highlights of this two-week schedule of visits included engaging Q&A sessions at the Australian and American Chambers of Commerce, Australian and American Consulates, eBay China, Apple and AEG entertainment group. 

It was thrilling to hear from a variety of mid- to senior level management about their experiences as expats and local people, navigating the challenges and opportunities that doing business in China entails. Another stand out experience was participating in a round-table discussion with foreign service officers at the American Consulate, and enjoying a group dinner with Bates Gill, the CEO of the US Studies Centre and world renowned US-China expert.

Life in Shanghai outside the classroom certainly lived up to our expectations. As a group and as individuals, each student in this pilot program made a huge effort to immerse themselves in the local customs, culture and food. Some of us arrived in Shanghai not knowing how to use chopsticks, and others who had previously travelled to China deepened their connection to this exciting, vibrant metropolis.

Overall, this was an incredibly rich and rewarding experience; made even more special by the close friendships we formed within the University of Sydney group, and with other international students taking the program. I have certainly returned to Sydney with a strong case of the ‘China bug’ that will hopefully lead me to return to China later in my career.

Madeline Greer
Current student at the University of Sydney Business School

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The Importance of Leadership

Imagine it’s your first team meeting and you know well that you have to lead the team for convincing results. English is not your first language, you don’t know the demographics and psychological behaviors and you don’t even know how they react to the conversation and words at times. This is predominantly what every international student experiences while studying at the University of Sydney.

The best real life industrial management example for executing leadership in regards to the same situation is Nissan’s current CEO, Carlos Ghosn. He pulled out a remarkable turnaround which was not accomplished by adhering to conventional wisdom.

Leadership Quality
One proven way to develop effective leadership is to focus on the behaviors you expect a leader to display. Spell out these activities personally with your team. In conversations, discuss what a leader in your organisation should do - for example, act as a role model or motivate others - and describe each behavior with enough specificity to inform selection, training and evaluation. Be precise, real and action-oriented. By describing these qualities as behaviors (rather than as character traits) you’ll underscore two messages: It isn’t worth much to have an attribute that you don’t display; and if you fall short of what the best leaders do, you can still close that gap. Emphasising behavior over traits also opens the door to style differences, as long as leaders maintain the standards you’ve set.

Leadership Approach
When you manage a team of people, adapt your leadership style to meet each person’s needs. In general, there are four types of approaches: directing, coaching, supporting and delegating. Depending on the level of your team’s competence and commitment, choose which will work best. When your direct report is learning new skills, be directive. Define tasks clearly and check progress to make sure the team is not faltering. Use out of the box experiments while learning new skills, but make sure there is freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. Be supportive, encouraging highly competent employees who lack confidence. With employees who are both highly motivated and experienced, delegate tasks. In all cases, your responsibility is to find the balance between hand-holding and empowering. It’s our assignment to be able to energise others and influence them so that they all want to be around us.

One Strong  Recommendation
Group assignments are provided to work in a corporate environment at the University of Sydney. Students are prone to experience the politics, stress and develop an etiquette of learning useful managerial experiences. As a take home reward, ensure that you don’t have any personal animosities. University and your learning experiences will be what you make of it.

Shivaramakrishnan Ramamoorthy
Current student at the University of Sydney Business School
Master of Management, Master of International Management (CEMS) and Master of Commerce (Marketing)

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Adventures in Paris: Student Reflections on the International Placement Program

Week 3 and 4: All good things have to come to an end…
The final week is up and we celebrated graduation at SciencesPo by going out together with the teaching staff. It was very sad, as we have enjoyed our classes and our time together over the last five weeks. We enjoyed dinner and drinks and later, the class handed over some nice treats for the coordinators of the European Studies Programme. We all decided to stay in touch via LinkedIn.

After the dinner we were given an academic diploma for the completion of the European Studies Programme at SciencesPo. It is a great addition to my resume and adds value as I seek to reach my aspirations of acquiring an international career.

After finishing classes which have taken up most of our evenings, more free time opened up. As we were pretty used to the fast pace, we suddenly had lots of time spare for sightseeing. Bring on Paris!!

One thing I have noticed which differs a lot from Australia is the amount of people enjoying lovely picnics in the parks. We went several times per week for picnics at various locations in Paris, and we were (clearly) not the only ones! People of all ages enjoy prosciutto ham, brie, wine and baguettes. I do not want to think about all the damage that needs some repair when I return to my trainer in Sydney!

One of my favourite spots was the Luxembourg Gardens. It closes at 9pm, so we had to hurry up after work or go and visit during the weekends. Although Sydney is wonderful, it doesn’t beat the wonderful nature you can find throughout the heart of Paris!


It was not very tempting to spend a whole day standing in a queue, so we went to have a look at the Louvre during the evening. Hardly anyone was there and it was really cool to see it in person.

As this was our last weekend, we decided that a trip to Disneyland was a must. We bought tickets online and jumped on a train in the morning which did not take more than 45 minutes. This had been my dream ever since early childhood and it was finally an opportunity for some childhood closure!

We were super lucky with the weather and enjoyed the day. However, Disneyland was in general very over-priced, so I recommend bringing lots of spare cash! Unfortunately it is still a long time until Christmas, as this is a paradise for Christmas shopping (and any other random merchandise you might ‘need’!).

We did not exactly have a lack of activities ahead of us so we decided to stay until the fireworks at the end of the day, at 11pm… and it turned out that was a very good idea!

On a light-hearted note, as a final remark to future IPP students:
Although it is pretty nice to get some international work experience and an extra university diploma, it hardly beat the feeling of having this:

Panne au chocolat/chocolate croissant for breakfast

…..and crepes for lunch:

... and this is even without having anyone looking at you in a strange way!
Au revoir!!

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