Tuesday, 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 

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

My Experience at Wellington Management

To many Commerce students, fund management is an elusive industry which often gets overlooked by the more mainstream roles such as investment banking, sales and trading, and management consulting. Over the past 6 months, I have had the privilege of working in a leading global asset management firm and it has been amazing!

Making the decision to defer university for 6 months is not an easy one. However the technical and practical skills I’m developing have complimented my university experience. My understanding of portfolio management has grown exponentially and I am proud to say that I finally know how to navigate my way around Bloomberg.  Every day at Wellington is a new experience and I know that I will utilise these skills further on in my career. 

What does the role entail?
I have the pleasure of working across two different teams whilst being an intern. I begin the first half of my day with the Investment Data and Derivative Services to ensure that securities, benchmarks and indices are priced correctly – this allows Wellington’s investment teams to have the most accurate and timely information to trade upon. In the afternoon, I work with the business development team in the Global Relationship Group. My role there varies significantly from day-to-day – for example, I could be preparing a regression analysis for our funds or researching emerging market stocks that our clients are invested in. I was also fortunate enough to attend a prospect meeting with a client to determine if we could provide solutions in their investment process.

What I love about Wellington?

  • Flat Hierarchy: Wellington has a great culture where you have the ability to catch up with senior management to get career advice or gain a better understanding of the firm.
  • Individual Development: Analysts and managers will invest their own time into mentoring and teaching you about the industry.
  • Early Morning Meetings (EMM): Wellington has a very collaborative environment that is best exemplified by the daily EMM where the firm’s portfolio managers, macro economists and analysts around the world share their news, stock advice and research. I remember vividly my first morning meeting, where the conversation ranged from the Greek debt situation to the crash in the China A-Shares market. Truly this is a unique experience and connects the offices across the world (Boston-London-Zurich-Frankfurt-Hong Kong-Beijing-Tokyo-Singapore-Sydney).
  • Exposure: At the Wellington’s Sydney office, you have the opportunity to meet with portfolio managers visiting from all around the world. Often, they run office knowledge sharing sessions where they provide updates of their stock ideas and investment approaches. 
  • Health and Well-being: Wellington places a huge focus on well-being with great initiatives like the APAC steps challenge. Employees are given pedometers to compete in global challenges for the highest step count – believe me, everyone gets competitive!
Although my time with Wellington Management is over a short 6 months, it has been an invaluable experience. It’s been a pleasure to work with so many bright people, and I’d recommend the experience to anyone!

Charmian Zhang
Final year Commerce student at the University of Sydney Business School, majoring in Finance.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Industry Placement Program - Australian National Committee for UN Women

At the beginning of this year I participated in the Business School’s Industry Placement Program. As part of this program, I had the opportunity to move down to Canberra for six weeks to intern with the Australian National Committee for UN Women.  The Australian National Committee for UN Women is a non-profit organisation that raises both awareness and funds for the work that UN Women undertakes in the Pacific region. During the time that I was on placement, the primary fundraising focus was on the elimination of violence against women in the Pacific region, an area where gender-based violence is prevalent.

I arrived at the Australian National Committee for UN Women at an exciting time. When I first began the placement, it was a mere two months before the biggest fundraising campaign of the year, International Women’s Day. As the weeks went by and the campaign day grew closer, the office became busier and I found that I had a broad variety of tasks to complete. No day was the same – I experienced everything from managing the marketing strategy for merchandise through to helping sell tickets for the upcoming events. It was a fantastic opportunity to be involved in the development of a nation-wide campaign, as well as gaining an understanding of the specifics of marketing in a non-profit environment. The program provided me with a chance to put the theory that I had learnt in the classroom into practice by working at the heart of a large campaign. 

I also had the chance to meet a variety of people from the non-profit industry throughout the six weeks that I was there. One of the highlights was talking to Ellie van Baaren, Regional Communications and Media Specialist at UN Women Pacific, who told us of the programs that were currently underway in the Pacific region. It was exciting to hear about the work being done on the Markets for Change program, which encourages women in Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to become involved in local marketplace leadership and provides them with safe spaces to sell their produce. It was after hearing Ellie speak that I realised that the work I was assisting with was making an actual difference to the lives of women living in the Pacific region.

During the internship, I also had the opportunity to conduct a research project. This was an exciting chance to explore an area I was personally interested in within the organisation. I had the freedom to choose both the question and the research methods I was to use, which was something I hadn’t experienced before in my degree. I developed a set of recommendations which I provided to the organisation at the conclusion of my placement. It was fantastic to realise that I was making a genuine, lasting impact on the organisation through these recommendations.

The Industry Placement Program was a great opportunity to gain industry experience in an organisation and to explore the practical side of marketing in an office environment. It was often challenging, but always exciting, and over the six weeks I spent in Canberra, I developed both personally and professionally in ways I could never have imagined before I began the placement. The skills and the contacts that I gained will be invaluable in the future as I move into a professional career, and the experience I had working on the International Women’s Day campaign is one that I don’t think I will ever forget.  
Rebecca Smith
Current student in the Master of Commerce program at the University of Sydney Business School and participant in the Industry Placement Program in Canberra

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Thoughts from a bus (actually a plane): Goodbye and Thank-you

The iridescent gaze of the afternoon DC sunlight gleefully dances off the plane’s wing, illuminating the cabin in a golden azure haze. There’s just something about travelling, that state between destinations where you’re almost suspended in time, poised to reflect on your journey as you watch the green swathes of Ohio and Colorado sweep by, the ultimate state of reflection. 

The hardest thing about leaving DC was definitely the people. All during the afternoon before our flight we’d made our rounds, a swan-song of sorts, to multiple apartments where US and Sydney kids alike played to their everyday cadence, whether that be recuperating after a Guetta rave the previous night or hastily remitting the last few pairs of socks or souvenirs into already overstuff luggage. This collective milieu of students has been my surrogate family for the past nine weeks. From the first night when they bombarded us with American enthusiasm over our funny accents, stories of the Aussie outback and consolations that we were below the legal drinking age, we’ve dined far and wide across DC and Virginia, ticked off all major attractions along the Mall one-by-one and had way too many post 2AM deep-and-meaningfuls in each other’s rooms. Together, we’ve challenged preconceived notions of American fast food, split an inordinate number of Uber and Lyft rides between us and shared morsels of culinary decadence stretching the limits of our cramped apartment kitchens.

Leaving the East-West Center we’ve left 4 packets of Tim-Tams which were voraciously devoured in the first two days, gained memories of round table lunchtime discussions about the origins of cupcakes to the ethics of taking airplane headphones and forged long-lasting friendships that will inevitably transcend the geographical borders that bound us. I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive, optimistic and engaging workplace for my first internship and it’s these experiences, from the shared dislike of liquorice jellybeans to going out as a group to FedEx 20 huge parcels that will stay with me beyond the skills and knowledge I’ve attained here.

For me, the US capital had always seemed like an interstitial city, where people come in and go out, five days a week, every week for business. But the friends I’ve made here, the people I’ve met and the experiences we’ve shared are living proof of the opposite. I can still remember walking one afternoon down the Washington Mall where people were riding bikes, having picnics or playing frisbee and soccer in the balmy 190 Celsius sun. It was then there I began to understand what DC was. A city known for its national significance and political underpinnings but also one inhabited by locals undefined by the politics of Capitol Hill coalescing into one of the friendliest, most diverse communities I’ve met in the US. For me, DC will always be the city where I watched my first ice-hockey game, experienced snow for the first time and really got to the heart of the American psyche.
It’s for these reasons that while I’ve shed a few tears as we soar high above the clouds back towards Sydney, I look back at the entire trip with a decided fondness and gratitude. Thanks to all of you that have stayed with my blog and if you do ever get the opportunity to take part in the IPP, definitely do, it’s totally worth it.

Finally you get to see my face!

Edward Chang
Current student at the University of Sydney and participant in the Industry Placement Program in Washington DC

Monday, 22 February 2016

Thoughts from a bus: The halfway point

Hello readers! You’re not going to believe this, but I’m writing this second blog…whilst on another bus. No, it’s not a self-indulgent past time of mine nor is it a prime hotspot of writing juices to flow, but it just so happens that my trip up to Philadelphia for the long weekend gives me about 4-ish hours to share with you some of my experiences in the program over the past 6 weeks. And while they’ve passed by incredibly fast, each one of them has been completely, utterly, exhaustively amazing.

Interning at the East-West Center (that’s right, it’s US spelling) has been an amazing experience as a first internship. As a public diplomacy and educational outreach office on South-East Asian affairs my primary role has been contributing to projects through writing articles and contributing to Center publications. But as always, there’s so much more to a workplace than the job description. In my time here, I’ve broken out of my comfort zone travelling to the Pakistan embassy twice to collect an employee visa, I’ve taken the initiative to attend events all across DC and I’ve applied myself in new ways through our research project on the firm. Whilst there’s still three weeks left, I find myself perpetually drawn back every Monday with the promise of good office coffee, an incredibly friendly and positive work environment and sharing stories with the fellow interns. Punctuating all of this are the classic office shenanigans that persist everywhere. From watching the intern booths slowly fill up whilst we’ve been here (we interns now outnumber the staff) to comparing notes on word pronunciations with employees within the sanctity of lunchtime, to the never-ending expeditions to raid the jellybean dispenser, working in the office has been an absolute blast.

The classes here have also been breathtaking. Having the privilege to study under professors and industry leaders with such intimate experience in their fields from electoral politics to medical anthropology to research and presentation skills combined with their willingness to share their stories has been incredible. It’s this inherent passion that keeps drawing me back, inspiring me to work harder and quite possibly guiding my interests and hobbies back in Sydney.

If anything, the weekends here at DC have been the epitome of spontaneity, embodying the core of student life and only perpetuated by the ease of transportation provided by Uber and the metro system. My roommate once complained that our late nights and even later mornings meant we’d never complete more than one attraction a day, a sentiment that we’ve since disproven but which reflects the very essence of DC. There is just so much more to do here when you’re not spending 3-4 fleeting days as a tourist and each attraction from the monuments, museums and restaurants have so much to offer. Intimate moments like snowball fighting on the courtyard, travelling out to Virginia just for all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ and cupcake sampling on the trendy streets of Georgetown will stick with me forever. 

Christmas in January: Snowball fight in the courtyard

As we get towards the pointy end of the program I find myself simultaneously excited and nervous. With just three weeks left there’s still so much to do, so many assignments left untouched, so many attractions still undiscovered and so many more memories to be made. Staring out as the highway speeds by and we head up to try the famous Philadelphia Cheese Steak, I resolve myself to make the most of what’s left of DC and I’ll definitely be there to share those moments with you next blog. Until then, stay safe and enjoy the start of Sem 1!

Next up: Friends, tears and reflections

Edward Chang
Current student at the University of Sydney
and participant in the Industry Placement Program in Washington DC

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Thoughts from a bus: looking back on the trip so far

Ok I admit it, typing, let alone starting my first blog on a bus is not what I’d pictured for this trip. I’d always imagined spending hours in central park warmed by the speckled spotlights of sunlight or atop a lookout perilously perched in the sky, a physical metaphor for the self-reflective juices swirling around me right now. But no, instead I’m on a bus bound for DC, where I’m quietly excited to be spending the next two and a bit months as part of the Industry Placement Program.

To be honest though, this behaviour is perfectly quintessential of the past 10 days I’ve spent in the US. Over this amazing week and a bit I’ve hopped through Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, spent one night in an airport terminal, feasted on the plethora of fast food outlets and indulged myself in the immensely different culture here in the US. Yes, to me, if I had to describe the US in one word it would be visceral. A nation so full of overwhelming and enthralling icons everywhere you go. The place where I watched my first ever Broadway show, muscled in amongst hundreds to see the NYE ball drop, queued for hours in Disneyland, packed my suitcases sky-high with boxing day sale items and awed at the might of the Golden Gate bridge. These memories will stay with me forever and I have a feeling there are plenty more to come.

I don’t know if it’s just me but coming here to a country where the cities dwarf Sydney at their emptiest and tower above the streets in concrete majesty has drawn me to appreciate the little things accompanying the main attractions in our trips. Experiences like spotting squirrels in Central Park, listening to the unique stories of our many, many Uber drivers, finding out what ‘Xing’ (Cross-sing) means on Venice Beach, getting a photo with everyone’s favourite Wookie and trying out those refill soda fountains have shed a more personal light for me on what the US is like.

I'm not obsessed with squirrels...we just don't have many in Australia!
The people who have accompanied me on this trip have however been the glue that has kept me going through the countless hours of lost sleep, misread maps and overestimated food portions. From Chris, the man with a thousand connections (and snapchat stories) setting us up at the Peninsula New York and even getting us onto a Times Square Billboard to Bowrun tirelessly attempting to get his ‘scarf right’ while taking that perfect Profile Picture to Benedict, the wise cracking, incredibly skilled plane-sleeper and everyone else who have joined us on our adventures, I’d just like to say thank you for being such amazing people, friends and intrepid explorers with me.

All these morsels of insight have, over the past week and a bit, colluded into a collage of menagerie, one still swirling atop my pool of consciousness, and one which I’m still unable to process and perhaps won’t be able to for a while after this whirlwind of a holiday. But as things settle down and the bus heads closer to DC, I do admit finding myself being drawn back to the allure and lustre of the routine, an inexplicable feeling I can’t explain, only characterised by my ardent desire to expunge my suitcases of their contents and sort everything into wardrobes and proper cabinets, my inner neat-freak finally revealing itself after days of travelling in the same clothes.

Looking ahead, I do find my mind often wandering, pondering over what kind of experiences I’ll have at my placement, the types of teachers I’ll meet in class and the stories of my fellow students on campus. Thoughts aside, DC sounds absolutely amazing and I’m definitely looking forward to it!

Edward Chang
Current student at the University of Sydney 
and participant in the Industry Placement Program in Washington DC

Thursday, 28 January 2016

What Would 1.8 Billion Voices Sound Like?

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of overcoming a personal challenge in life. Nothing as liberating as clearing the tabs on your web browser after a grueling night of caffeine-induced assignment-typing. Or perhaps you finally scored that dream job at --insert company name here--. In more ways than others, we’re defined by our challenges and how we deal with them. Sometimes we stumble. Other times we triumph. But at some point we realise there are challenges out there we cannot deal with alone. Thankfully, you’re not alone.

Whether you’re stepping into university for the first time, stepping out for the last time, or anything in between; together you are the next generation of change-makers. You have a voice, and there’s never a better time to use it then now. Introducing YouthSpeak Forum Australia.

To be held at the University of Sydney Business School in the new Abercrombie Building on Friday 19 February, this one-day event will see students, thought-leaders and organisations come together to do something extraordinary. Inspiring talks, Engaging topics and Activating the power of a national network of young people. You will have a hands-on experience tackling some of Australia’s most pressing issues in the next five years by co-creating projects with leaders across all fields: Digital Disruption, Asia Capabilities, Sustainability, Fintech and Transition from Education to Employment.

As a student, it can sometimes seem like there aren't many opportunities to do something meaningful and make a tangible impact within your degree. Writing reports, submitting essays, and getting good at econometrics are not exactly flattering skills, to say the least. Employers are now looking for people with a passion, a passion to ‘do’. Why not take up the challenge? Pitch your project and it may have a real potential of being introduced into the Australian public, as early as this year.

Not to mention the incredible line-up of speakers: Alex Malley (CEO of CPA Australia and Author of ‘The Naked CEO’), Catherine McManus (Director of Smart Cities and recognised by Malcolm Turnbull as one of Australia’s most innovative entrepreneurs), and Ben Reeves (CEO of AAGE, Australian Association of Graduate Employers) just to name a few. These industry leaders are at the forefront of innovation and change in Australia, and you can join in on the action! 

So what would 1.8 billion voices sound like? The entire youth population? Probably something that would shake the world.

Spaces for this event are limited and attendees will be selected based on registration details. You can register now over at our website: www.youthspeak.me and view the full list of speakers, program and event information. 

Register by Sunday 31 January to be eligible for EARLYBIRD tickets and save 30% (pay only $10AUD). General Admission Pass is $15AUD.

Deadlines for registrations close at 9.00pm, Sunday 14 February. 

Keep up to date on our facebook event page and invite your friends!

Tao Zhang
Current student at the University of Sydney