7 December 2017

Getting Job Smart

Three students have been awarded 12 week summer internships through the Business School’s Job Smart program. 

Job Smart is a free extracurricular program available for postgraduate Business School students, designed to assist participants in developing work-relevant skills during their studies. Completing one phase per semester, students build up a portfolio of work-relevant experiences by engaging in networking activities and attending professional coaching sessions.

We caught up with two of the recipients, Marilyn Yang and Xu Li, to find out more about their Job Smart experience, and what they are looking forward to when they start their internship with the accounting department at Hilton Hotels.

How did you first hear about the program and why did you decide to participate?
Xu: I remember seeing Job Smart for the first time after receiving the Semester 2 Orientation email from the Business School. After arriving in Sydney we got a brief introduction session about the Job Smart program during Orientation week.

I saw the program as a good opportunity for me to develop employability skills that are not necessarily focused on in my course, but are crucial for every graduate to find a job.

What has been the most valuable part of the Job Smart program?
Marilyn: The most valuable part of Job Smart program is the well-designed activities, prizes and the genuine purpose of helping students. I’ve had the opportunity to undertake some volunteer work, Global Scope Project and now an internship.

The soft skills I have developed, such as time management, communication and teamwork skills, mean a lot to me. I have found a sense of fulfillment as I’ve made improvements and achievements throughout the program, which is a great encouragement for me.

What do you hope to gain from the internship you were awarded?
Marilyn: I hope I can accumulate practical experience and keep pace with the new trend in the accounting world. Developing employability, perceiving Australian workplace culture and building up confidence are also important to me.

Xu: I hope to gain related working experience, develop my interpersonal and other soft skills, and know Australian organisation culture.

How do you think this experience will enhance your future career?
Xu: The internship experiences along with other skills I have developed will equip me with more potential in my future career.

Marilyn: To me, this is the starting point of my accounting career. No matter what kind of job I end up in, this experience will help me identify which accounting field I want to explore further and the soft skills trained in the internship will apply to my future life.

5 December 2017

7 Must Read Business Books of 2017

Do you need a little light reading over the summer? We’ve got you covered with a curated list of the top business books to read, with a little help from the likes of Business Insider’s recommended, McKinsey’s finalists and the Financial Times’ Best books of 2017: Business. There’s a little bit of everything here to peak your curiosity – big data and AI, Apple’s dominance in the smartphone market, and one of the greatest scams to hit Wall Street since the GFC. 

The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone 

By Brain Merchant 
Merchant delves into the history of the device that has transformed the way people interact with technology and each other. It examines the cultural impact of the iPhone and the developments and breakthroughs in the manufacturing process.

"'The One Device' is a road map for design and engineering genius, an anthropology of the modern age and an unprecedented view into one of the most secretive companies in history. This is the untold account, ten years in the making, of the device that changed everything," the Financial Times says.

The Captain Class: The Hidden Force that Creates the World’s Greatest Teams 

By Sam Walker 
Deputy editor for enterprise at WSJ and former sports columnist, Walker developed a process to determine the 16 greatest professional sports dynasties from around the world from the last century. An in-depth analysis of each influential captain was conducted to identify the commonalities – to identify what it takes to be an elite leader in any field.

"This wonderfully written and wildly entertaining study of the most winning sports teams in history has more to say about leadership, engagement, and the chemistry that sparks and sustains extraordinary achievement than a decade's worth of leadership books," says Strategy + Business reviewer Sally Helgesen.

Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing Our Digital Future 

By Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson 
The authors from MIT's Sloan School of Management explain how businesses can best use artificial intelligence and crowd wisdom and how leaders should manage amid these massive technological changes.

"Beneath all the concrete problems it raises, an intriguing question lies at the heart of the book: Given the rise of algorithmic decision making, the ability to outsource tasks to the crowd, and such technologies as blockchain, will the corporation as we know it become obsolete?" writes Strategy + Business reviewer James Surowiecki.

The Spider Network 

By David Enrich 
Here’s the inside scoop into the Libor scandal, the deliberate manipulation of the key banking interest rates, and its spectacular demise.

"'The Spider Network' is the almost-unbelievable and darkly entertaining inside account of the Libor scandal – one of history's biggest, farthest-reaching scams to hit Wall Street since the global financial crisis, written by the only journalist with access to Tom Hayes before he was imprisoned for 14 years," the Financial Times says of its top pick.

Everybody Lies 

By Seth Stephens-Davidowitz 
Harvard-trained economist and former Google data scientist, Stephens-Davidowitz explores the myriad uses of big data and the Internet, and how the very definition of ‘data’ is constantly expanding. Sometimes the new data will deeply disturb you.

"Freakonomics on steroids – this book shows how big data can give us surprising new answers to important and interesting questions. Seth Stephens-Davidowitz brings data analysis alive in a crisp, witty manner, providing a terrific introduction to how big data is shaping social science." writes Raj Chetty, Professor of Economics at Stanford University.

Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change 

By Ellen Pao 
This is Pao’s story of suing Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers for discrimination and a culture of bias. Despite losing the suit, the litigation brought attention to the overwhelmingly white, male culture of Silicon Valley.

"Ellen K. Pao's Reset is a rallying cry – the story of a whistleblower who aims to empower everyone struggling to be heard, in Silicon Valley and beyond," the Financial Times says of its selection.

The Great Leveler 

By Walter Scheidel
Stanford historian, Schediel attempts to trace the history of income inequality throughout the entirety of man’s existence. He argues that the only effective means of closing vast income gaps has been through violent movements.

"Mr. Scheidel's depressing view is bound to upset [those] who quite naturally might prefer to live in a world in which events might move political and social systems to figure out a more equitable way to distribute the fruits of growth without the plague, the guillotine or state collapse."--Eduardo Porter, New York Times

Written by Cindy Ngo.
Current Bachelor of Commerce student at the University of Sydney Business School.

20 November 2017

My Master of Professional Accounting experience

Name: Siyi Lu (Christina)
Degree and Major: Master of Professional Accounting (MPA)

Why you choose master of professional accounting?
This is my last semester. Studying master of professional accounting is one of the best decisions I’ve made. It has changed my life and my thinking. Interestingly, studying MPA was not in my plans before I came to Australia. I did not perform well in my fundamental accounting unit in my undergraduate, and this held me back from choosing to study accounting. But luckily, a few days before the course application deadline, a friend I met in Sydney told me ‘You can do it.' After my friend’s encouraging words, I changed to MPA. Thinking back, I knew I wanted to challenge myself and I knew I couldn’t let my past experiences stop me from pursuing this new and exciting opportunity.

In my first semester, I worked very hard - I completed the self-study questions, attended the workshops, PASS sessions and consultation. I recommend you attend consultations, the lecturers and tutors were very helpful and took the effort to explain the problems until I fully understood. The more consultations I went to, the more interesting I found learning the content. I am thankful to my lecturers and tutors who fueled my interest in learning the MPA units. I also helped my peers to answer accounting questions which boosted my confidence and gave me the motivation to study harder.

What do you learn in this journey?
Critical thinking skills. Before beginning this degree, I tended to follow other people’s opinion instead of voicing my own. I remember my lecturer telling me ‘You have to have your own opinion.’ Most of my essay assignments required critical thinking to evaluate the impact of different accounting policies. Although it was challenging it was interesting because I had to think critically whether the accounting treatment represented a true and fair view in the financials. Now, when I read a news-piece, I naturally start to analyze the content and ask myself ‘what is my opinion?’

What campus life and study advice do you give master of professional accounting students?
1. Don’t forget to give back to the community and use the university resources

Helping others makes me happy. I love volunteering. I joined the university’s V-team and helped out with USU’s amazing programs which developed my leadership, teamwork and communication skills. The Lucy Mentoring, Business Alumni Mentoring and Industry Placement Program, open to postgraduate students, would aid your professional development. I recommend your regularly check CEO’s announcement and Student News to avoid missing any important events. The MPA is only 2 years so it’s important you make good use of the university’s resources.

2. Attend networking events to build your professional profile.

Learning in the classroom is not enough. What is important is knowing how to apply what you’ve learnt in the classroom in a workplace setting. I attended many professional networking events such as EY Future Female Leader Breakfast, International Women’s Day Breakfast, ‘Be...an Auditor’ workshop presented by KPMG. By talking to professionals in the accounting industry it gave me a better understanding and insight into what I wanted my accounting career pathway to look like.

3. Make a to-do list.

A daily to-do list helped me to manage my workload when I had multiple assignments due within a week. It also ensured I had time to continue to participate in extra-curricular activities may it be volunteering or attending professional networking events.

4. Plan your final exam revision early.

I begin my final exam 2 weeks to 3 weeks prior to stuvac. By reviewing content I’ve learnt earlier in the semester meant I still get enough sleep and maintain a healthy lifestyle when exams come around. I recommend you attend consultation prior to stuvac so you have sufficient time to ask your lecturers and tutors any questions you have.

5. Participate in class discussion actively.

To be an active learner is very rewarding. I love participating in the class discussions. Why? Discussing questions with lecturers, tutors, and peers is an opportunity to practice my English and build on my critical thinking and communication skills. I find the more I participate in class discussions, the better I understand the content and so the better I perform in that unit.

Lucy Mentoring Program experience

Name: Siyi Lu (Christina)
Degree: Master of Professional Accounting (MPA)
Placement: HLB Mann Judd

Why did you choose the Lucy mentoring program?

Before I came to Australia, I did research about opportunities on the Business School’s website and found the Lucy Mentoring Program! I told myself “I must join this program”. As an international student, without permanent residency (PR), I realised it could be an obstacle to securing an internship. The Lucy Program not only provided a professional networking opportunity but work-based experience in Australia.

What sort of work-based experience did you undertake during the program?

My work-based experience was fantastic. I worked in HLB Mann Judd, an accounting firm in Sydney. I gained work experience in Tax, Audit and Corporate Advisory. I am grateful I had this opportunity as having just completed my Taxation and Auditing units, I was then able to apply this knowledge and gain industry experience.

I worked with the Corporate Advisory team, where I helped them interpret Chinese financial statement and related documents. I realised as an international student, that being bilingual adds value to the firm. I also helped with research and analysis on merger and acquisition, an area I hadn’t thought about previously.

In the audit team, I helped to conduct audit planning using auditing software. Also, I had a chance to visit clients and undertake substantive testing. I applied what I learnt from the auditor training session with my accounting knowledge to generate the annual report.

In the tax team, I helped with researching the employee share scheme and presented my findings to my tax partner. I also attended an individual tax return training session.

On top of the work, the firm had many interesting activities happening. I attended the audit pre-busy party, netball competition, and morning tea session. It was a great opportunity to immerse myself in the Australian work environment.

What challenges did you face in the program?
The challenge was that I wanted to undertake greater responsibilities and tasks but at this point in time I lacked the experience and skills to do so. From this program, I decided the next step of my career development would be to gain the Chartered Accountant (CA) qualification. In the first few days of the work-based experience I asked myself “how do I grow and develop my work relationships and adjust my work ethics to fit with the firm’s culture?” I decided that if I continued to be friendly, be eager and willing to help, listen to instructions carefully and ask questions, that I would be fine.

What did you learn from the Lucy mentoring program?
I am so grateful that Mariana is my mentor. Mariana is a great leader and is always very energetic. She took me to the NSW Tax Institution and shared her experience when she chaired the board meeting. Mariana has worked in HLB for 17 years and has volunteered in the tax institution for nearly 10 years. What inspired me is not just her ability to contribute to her firm but her willingness to give back to the community. Mariana taught me to never stop learning and how important this is in career development. Mariana inspires me to continue to learn and grow my knowledge.

I was lucky to join mysoundingboard, a program of HLB, which empowers business women. I followed these business women in LinkedIn, and came across a post about a woman who works in trademarking and was helping an African refugee to launch her startup - one of the members of mysoundingboard replied to her post “If you need any help, just tell us”. To see people use their expertise to help those in need, instantly gave me a smile.

This is my last semester, I am curious to see what my career will look like. I need to get my CA and want to learn more from this qualification. I know I’ll face obstacles but that’s okay because it’s all a part of the learning process. What is more important is that I have a positive mindset and find ways to overcome failures. Before this opportunity comes, I must prepare well. I hope in the future that I am able to use my experiences to mentor and empower women to pursue their career goals.

What advice do you give students who want to apply for Lucy mentoring program?
1. Take note of the application deadline and mark it in your calendar.

2. Do an action plan. I checked the Lucy Program a semester before applications opened and formed a set of action points. For the program I needed a credit average or above, demonstrate leadership potential and effective communication skills. So, I attended on-campus volunteer activities and took on leadership roles voluntarily in group assignments and events.

3. Help others in the work-based activities. By helping others, I gained support from my colleague. I had a chance to have a meal with the audit manager who has worked as an auditor for 10 years. It was great to talk to professionals because it gave me direction of what my next step is and how to best present myself in a professional setting.

13 November 2017

Student Feeds: the solution to every poor hungry student!

Are you the typical embodiment of a struggling uni student?
Are you constantly swamped with uni, work and a social life that you don’t have time to cook?
Did you just spend $20 on an UberEats meal?

If you answered yes, just know that you are not alone. And that I have the perfect solution for you!

Student Feeds is a start-up I have recently established where we provide $5 healthy meal preps to students specifically in self-catered accommodation. By producing in bulk and selling to consumers in bulk, we hope these meals can improve the affordability of student living. We are student-driven – organised by students for students. This means all our operations and future expansions will aim to involve students as the core of our business; whether this be in employing students, delivering to students’ doorsteps and establishing a personal relationship, or in generation of marketing and product development ideas. 

Having lived at a self-catered accommodation this year, the biggest struggle experienced by myself and many of my friends was cooking for ourselves. Cooking every day is time consuming and costly, which can distract us from our university responsibilities, resulting in unhealthy lifestyles. I’ve witnessed so many of my friends succumb to $20 UberEats and regret it afterwards. It also occurred to me that some of them did not have the skills to cook either, so I would often cook bulk meals once a week and give my leftover meals to my friends, who acted as though I was saving their lives.

Another motivation for creating Student Feeds was because I volunteered at Bellyful NZ last year. This organisation makes hundreds of meals a month and delivers them to recent mothers in need (e.g. with post-partum depression or babies in hospital). I loved taking part in bulk meal preparation with great volunteers for such a worthy cause and identified that in fact students may also be a cause in need of cheap, healthy meals.

I think a huge barrier many budding entrepreneurs face is taking the first step to create something new. Ironically, we’re too scared to fail and this self-doubt means so many ideas never come to fruition. This is me, but I forced myself to buy 100 meal prep containers off Ebay on a whim so I was obliged to use them. Student Feeds was created after pondering over the idea for a week, and it has only been getting better from there. 

Our first goal was simple: make $1 of profit in the first week. We managed to surpass this over 100 times over. Our sales have continued to double as more students have discovered our start-up, and due to pre-orders and brand exposure across self-cater accommodation, we sold out 46 meals in 2 hours. 

I will soon be needing to hire more students and expand our team. We would love to develop an app, get intellectual property protection, a physical premise, and to expand to more accommodation as well as across the campus.

This is where we would LOVE your help! We are currently in the running to win Best Student Startup in the Startcon Australasian Startup Awards. Please help us improve student living by voting for us here (voting closes November 17, 2017). If you would like to keep up to date on our progress, feel free to follow us on Instagram @studentfeeds.

By Cindy Burgess, Bachelor of Commerce student at the University of Sydney Business School

6 November 2017

Learn from each success AND failure: Know thyself

We do not learn from experience
We learn from reflecting on experience
John Dewey

Reflection is a way to look at your past encounters and behaviours from a new perspective to improve your future actions. Employers now want a more resilient workforce to promote organisational well-being. They recruit employees who don’t become demotivated in the face of adversity and uncertainty, and have the openness to learn from their mistakes. Self-reflection is an amazing way to create a better self-awareness and resilience as it helps you to recognise and understand your strengths and areas for improvement. 

Benefits of self-reflection 

  1. It will assist you in identifying your professional and personal strengths and weaknesses
  2. Keeping a self-reflection log will aid you in writing a superior resume and cover letter
  3. It will improve your interview skills (Particularly Behavioural Interview. See my previous post for how to answer behavioural questions)
  4. It will help you write better reflective essays, reports and presentations for your degrees
  5. Self-reflection promotes self-empowerment as it helps you understand and control your emotions, and help you act on incidents rather than react on them.
  6. Taking the time to pause and think will help you create innovative ideas
  7. You will become more collected and articulate

How to be self-reflective

Reflective Journal:
One of the most common and useful way to create self-awareness is to keep a reflective journal. It is different than keeping diary in the sense that it is less descriptive and more analytic. You use less description and more evaluation and action plan in writing a reflective journal. Using a framework can be especially useful to write your reflection log more coherently and constructively. Below is an example of a simple reflection framework:
  • Description (Describe the event): During a conversation with my supervisor in my industry placement program (IPP), she asked me if I knew about the Australian employment law, and unfortunately, I had to say no because I had no Industrial Relation course in my degree.
  • Feelings (What were you thinking or feeling?): I felt a bit embarrassed and unprepared because my degree was Master of HRM and IR, and it’s only normal for people to expect me to know about industrial relations. Consequently, I decided to learn about the employment laws.
  • Action (What did you do in response?): First, I talked to my supervisor about what laws they needed to use most frequently because learning all the laws was impractical in the short timeframe of my internship. Secondly, since the information on the website was extremely descriptive, I created simple tables for every section which was easier to understand and more effective. Third, while I was learning the laws, I checked different completed contracts and forms from my organization’s database to understand the basic application of the laws.
  • Result (What outcomes did you have because of your actions? Was it positive or negative?): I completed 15 employee contracts and 10 statements of contract, and a tier-3 HR query (Back Payment issue) that I didn’t think I would get to do as Tier-3 involves legal issues.
  • Future action plan (What would you do differently next time for improvement): I will learn more about the laws and focus on HIG awards as I am interested in hospitality industry which will prepare me for my potential interviews and jobs.
Ask for feedback:
Soliciting feedback can be another way of creating self-awareness.
  • Ask your team members, peers, friends, managers and mentors for constructive feedback. Be open and make them feel safe to give you an honest feedback by actively listening to them and asking clarifying questions.
  • Read all the feedback given by the faculty on your assessments to improve your future assessments. My journey from D to HD is my analysis of the written and oral feedback from my lecturers and tutors.
Simple regular meditation can be an effective way to pause and reflect to gain greater awareness of yourself. Many people find it beneficial to use a few seconds to focus on their breathing. Being mindful can also foster collected thoughts by lessening your anxiety and stress, and can make you focused and hence, productive. There are several techniques of meditation that you can find on our University Website that I found useful to clear my head and to understand myself and my intentions/needs better.

Increase your emotional vocabulary:
Reflection can backfire and add to your stress if you struggle to express your feelings using the right words. Moreover, it will not reveal any significant information about yourself if you cannot go beyond using the words “good” or “bad” or “happy” or “sad”. You can expand your emotional vocabulary using 100 Ways to Describe How You Feel.

What to reflect on

You can reflect on your work, classes, teamwork, presentation and even behaviour! Ask yourself questions like:
  1. Are you actively participating in class? Is there anything that is hindering your participation in class? How can you change it in the future?
  2. Are you contributing in your team? Do you find it difficult to deal with a team member? How do you think you should approach him/her next time to be more collaborative? What will you do if you encounter similar situation in the future?
  3. What is the most challenging thing at your work? Why? How can you overcome this challenge? What is the easiest thing at your work? What strategies make this work easy for you?
Reflection can be challenging sometimes, especially when we reflect on negative experience. However, once you learn by reflecting on these experiences, you will have better control over yourself and your future.

Written by
Anindita Roy Bannya, first year Master of HRM and IR student at the University of Sydney Business School and Careers Leader with the Careers and Employability Office.

11 September 2017

Where will postgraduate study in international business lead you?

Master of International Business graduate Jiaqi Qin shares his journey to undertaking postgraduate study, where he is now and why he chose to study international business at the University of Sydney Business School.

Jiaqi Qin
Master of International Business

Where has your postgraduate study led you?

I am currently working as an analyst and sales manager trainee in a trading company. The company is a subsidiary of JD-link Co., a listed international logistic company in China.

My first role is as a business analyst – i.e. doing research on the business environment, trading policies and market situation of other countries to form references for the decision maker. The company is planning to do investment in the ASEAN region as a rising number of Chinese firms, especially those of labor-intensive industries, are moving to south-east Asia. The investment echoes the Chinese government’s Belt and Road strategy. At this stage, we are focusing on the market opportunities for building materials (steel, cement etc.), home furnishing, agribusiness, and consulting service in Vietnam.

My second role is as a sales manager trainee. The company is trying to do some trading business based on its logistic infrastructures. It has started with import milk from Australia, home care products, wine and other FMCG. Its business model is not mature, so I am focusing on its model design and sales channel development.

Why did you choose to study international business at the University of Sydney?

China is the biggest exporter in the world. ‘Made in China’ has become one of the most well-known phrase of Chinese goods found around almost all the corner shops in the world. And who made it happen? Merchandisers, traders, business man, those who engaged in international business. Ever since I travelled abroad in 2010 (to Australia) and saw how exporting business was booming, I told myself I want to be part of that. To me, getting the products we have to another country is cool, and the profit is very attractive. Since then, I worked hard to forge all the skills I thought a businessman should have: language ability, business knowledge.

After my graduation, I had an opportunity to work in a furniture manufacturing company as a sales assistant in the international marketing department. That was the first time I got involved in real life export business: meeting distributors, supervising the packaging process, answering enquiries, making quotations... I could be a good export agent with all these practices, but will that be enough? I found myself with a lack of a comprehensive sense of international business: we use distributors but why? Why do they matter? We use Certificates of Origin to enjoy the concessions under the Most Favored Nation policy but how exactly does it work? How will it affect the business in the future? I spent a great amount of time doing daily routines, which made me a good part of the department. However, how about leading the department? Can I do that? Would I have a mindset to form a business strategy? To explore business opportunities in a brand new country? I couldn’t answer those questions. And I don’t think in a short time my job could offer me these answers.

Then I started my research on a list of degrees from all different countries. Luckily I found the Master of International Business (MIB) at Sydney Uni. The introduction of MIB was like the first eye contact of my beloved girlfriend and I still remember that I told myself that day: I think I find the one.

What was most valuable about your learning experiences at the University?

Methodologies. Studying at USYD was very different and challenging work for me as I have never studied in a Western university before. The differences almost “got me”. The mechanism encouraged me to explore everything basically on my own. I was joking: “what on earth had I paid my tuition for since I have to do all of it by myself?” Nevertheless, this was the most valuable thing USYD offered me: methodologies – i.e. methods to approach and solve problems. I appreciate it so much after I started working. A business degree won’t really give you a lot of practical skills like an engineer degree, but it gives you methodologies you can use to learn, to talk, and to think. Technologies evolve while methodologies last. The methodologies I learnt will benefit me for the rest of my life.

How has the Master of International Business prepared you for future opportunities and is helping you to achieve your career goals?

The Master of International Business gives me a more comprehensive understanding of international business. With all the research and analytical skills I acquired during the degree, I can explore industries and markets in an efficient way. Industries are different, but the ways to run businesses are pretty similar. I found such ability opens a wide range of opportunities for me. Besides, MIB installed in me a good sense of teamwork, professional mindset, business manners, multicultural communication, which would be critical in an international business career.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying international business at the University of Sydney and embarking on an international business career?

There were people asking me what exactly have I learnt from MIB? I told them if you are looking for a specific skill, don’t even bother to do MIB. MIB is a journey to show you what you can do. It will give you a sense of how to be a business consultant, an export manager, a government foreign affair officer, or a director of an international team. It is a rehearsal of your professional life, so you can choose what to do in the future. What you will have is the learning experience with all the resources, projects, cases, teamwork, multicultural environment provided by MIB. These works are exactly what you are going to face in your international business career. Try to make the most of them so you will have a wider horizon and more options in the future.