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WILLISNEWS Bi-annual newsletter for the Management Consulting program Connecting past and present alumni, students and clients Issue 1, July 2014

welcome Welcome to the inaugural issue of The Willis News. This bi-annual newsletter aims to connect current students and clients with alumni of the subject and past clients. We hope this newsletter gives you some insight into the current state of the subject, our partners and the type of projects our students work on. We are especially pleased to include a feature article authored by four of our semester 1, 2014 students who completed a project for Deloitte on the future of the Australian automotive industry.

Researching the history of this program reveals some significant statistics – over 1,350 students have completed this subject over the past ten years. We have worked with numerous organisations including multinationals, large Australian companies, not-for-profits, smallto-medium enterprises, government departments and university departments. During the course of the subject, our students have collectively completed over 300 projects, showcasing their innovative thinking, applying their learning in a workplace and creating value for their client. This is what makes our program so successful – the students

develop their consulting, teamwork and professional skills whilst the clients receive a deliverable that adds value to their organisation. We take this opportunity to recognise the time and effort that students and clients, past and present, have put in to making this subject such a success. We look forward to its continued success in the years to come, with an ever-growing community of alums and client organisations. Jacqueline Hoare, Capstone Studies Coordinator and Austin Chia, Subject Director

A dedication The Management Consulting capstone subject is now in its 10th year. It has gone from strength to strength, attracting ever more students and organisations keen to participate – it has become a template for similar programs in other faculties, delivering the graduate attributes of a Melbourne degree. Alumni of the subject tell us how much they valued the opportunity to put their skills and knowledge into practice, to work in small teams, and to get a taste for what a career in consulting would be like. We are indebted to our partners, from the corporate and public sectors, who have embraced the opportunity to work with small teams of students on reallife business problems. The feedback is invariably positive, referring to the quality of the students, the fresh perspective they bring to the project, the real value of their consulting project. But most of all, the near-perfect organisation and administration of the program, minimising disruptions to the business partner’s busy workload. It is worth looking back at the origins of the subject/program and to recognise the pivotal contribution to its successful establishment by our former colleague

inside this issue

Trudy Willis, who sadly passed away last year. Trudy joined Melbourne University Private in 2002 and in that role contributed greatly to the Faculty’s development of executive education programs, including the Master of Enterprise and the PETRONAS program. Joining the Department of Management and Marketing in 2006, she tutored and coordinated various subjects. In particular, Trudy was instrumental in developing and managing the business practicum/capstone subject – one of the Faculty’s great success stories in delivering an outstanding careerfocused student experience.

Colleagues and students of Trudy described her as a joy to work with, diligent and efficient, with a great sense of humour, encouraging and supporting students to enhance their learning experience, make the most of the unique opportunity and assist them in discovering their career aspirations. It is entirely appropriate and but a small recognition of Trudy’s lasting legacy to our Faculty and its students that this newsletter is named in her honour. Professor Paul Kofman Dean Sidney Myer Chair of Commerce Faculty of Business and Economics

The Australian automotive industry: beyond 2017 Student reflections – Alex Bunday and Rannia Al-Salihi

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Where are they now?


Insights for client organisations


feature story

The Australian automotive industry: on the move beyond 2017 By Silvia Nuccio, David Loong, Dom Zhang and Kenny Choo The future of Australian car manufacturing has been the subject of prolonged and very heated debate for over a decade. Earlier this year, the ongoing industry speculation and conjecture was quelled with Toyota’s announcement to cease manufacturing operations in Australia. Toyota’s announcement follows the decision by Ford and Holden to exit the Australian manufacturing industry by 2016 and 2017 respectively; symbolising the final nail in the coffin for an industry where commercial viability has been contingent on government funding. Looking beyond 2017, the exit of Ford, Holden and Toyota will forever change the automotive manufacturing landscape in Australia, but it may not be the end of the automotive industry altogether. Even though the outlook for the remaining companies within the industry appears bleak; thorough analysis of international markets and competitive advantages has identified key areas of growth. As a result, existing companies can take these opportunities in order to remain competitive in a global market.

Education and Skills The Australian automotive industry boasts some of the most highly regarded employees for their level of qualifications and knowledge. Ultimately, these skills can be a major asset for companies looking to restructure. Profitable ventures in the long run are possible for firms who are able to match the automotive capabilities with areas of growth in the automotive industry. As identified by AutoCRC, the automotive long term growth sections that are compatible with Australian capabilities include the design of lightweight alloys for body frames, electric vehicle engineering and the development of LPG power trains. Furthermore, opportunities exist to take established skills and use them to create new and innovative products in both the automotive industry and alternative marketplace. Australia has a history of developing strong relationships between manufacturing and educational institutions in order to produce market leading products. Most recently, this has been seen with the Geelong based company Carbon Revolution, who


through a partnership with Deakin University have begun production of lightweight carbon fibre wheels. Ultimately, companies that are able to tap into possibilities through management of skills and talent could find success in the future.

Emerging International Markets In the South-East Asia region there are a number of countries with growing automotive manufacturing industries including Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia which present possibilities for business partnerships. Geographically these developing economies are ideally located for Australia to engage in trade with. Recently, countries such as Malaysia have moved to reduce barriers to imports through free trade agreements, which have paved the way for Australian businesses to engage in business partnership. Several key areas where Australia can supply expertise and products to these developing industries have been identified and relate to automotive technologies and management processes. Presently, South-East Asian manufacturing industries are looking to improve production efficiency through developing more refined training programs and increasing product workmanship. Furthermore, looking to the future the need for specialised automotive design and components testing is growing, and Australia could look forward to creating strong partnerships with the largest overseas manufacturers.

Platform sharing In the constant battle to reduce production costs, global car manufacturers are moving towards building cars using platform sharing. Platform sharing involves manufacturing several different vehicles models with the same core components such as the chassis, structural body components and steering systems. The character and unique style of each model is completed through different external panels and performance based accessories. This ultimately reduces the level of component design and testing required in vehicle construction. By employing platform sharing we have an increase in the compatibility of parts across models. There are several advantages for Australian component manufacturers who are able to adapt their design processes to cater for the demand from companies utilising platform sharing. Furthermore, platform sharing will change demand within the parts aftermarket, with components now compatible across more models. Ultimately, the level of supply to the overseas market will increase and due to the larger volume of parts required there are economies of scale advantages for manufacturers. Ultimately, when the final curtain closes on automotive manufacturing in Australia it will be the end of an era. And, while the traditional business environment for the automotive industry will be changed forever for those companies with a vision and initiative to invest in the areas of growth, it will be an exciting time for innovation and transformation.

A reflection

The Management Consulting experience as a catalyst for change Alexander Bunday is a final year Bachelor of Commerce student majoring in management and marketing. He recently completed a team project for Telstra on reviewing their current prepaid offering in light of international and domestic competition. to explore other aspects of our project scope that may have been overlooked. Equally valuable and insightful were the various peer learning workshops throughout the semester where we had the opportunity to interact and share our experiences with other students.

It was moments like this when I felt out of my comfort zone and such moments are exactly why I believe that the Management Consulting subject should be a critical part of the commerce degree. During our degree we are often taught abstract concepts and sometimes it feels like these theories and frameworks exist in a world of their own. The Management Consulting program provides commerce students with a unique opportunity to bridge theory with practice and crystallises knowledge through solving real business problems. For example, drawing on our knowledge of the SWOT and PEST framework our team were able to gain market-oriented insights that informed the development of our final recommendations to Telstra.

Having completed the subject, I feel more comfortable and better equipped in taking initiative to tackle ambiguous situations. When I first read the project brief, the project seemed impossibly large and daunting. However, through our extensive research and creative thinking we were able to devise a prepaid mobile plan which was operationally and strategically aligned with the business. By the time we presented it to the Telstra team, we knew the project inside out and ambiguity had turned into evidence-based conviction.

The combination of client visits, seminars and consultations with the teaching team made this program one of the most valuable learning experiences in my tertiary education. Prior to the first client visit, I was feeling somewhat uneasy about walking into a corporate environment with little understanding of the telecommunications industry. “Why would they listen to a bunch of students?” was among the many thoughts that floated through my head. Contrary to these preconceptions, the Telstra team were generous with their time, showed genuine interest in our ideas and were supportive of our efforts in every way.

My experience in the Management Consulting program has been rewarding and exciting. As a team of students, our ability to make a small but meaningful and important impact in a company makes me wonder about my personal potential to make greater impact as professional consultant in the future. “… in that split moment of hesitation I reminded myself that this wasn’t a university presentation – sheepishly brush off the question. With an intimate understanding of the data and confidence in our analysis, I responded to the question with conviction. And with a slight raise of the eyebrow and a nod by the finance manager, I continued with the presentation. Moments like this have not only changed who I am today but also changed the course of my future.”

The Management Consulting program provides commerce students with a unique opportunity to bridge theory with practice and crystallises knowledge through solving real business problems.

“We were finally presenting our findings to the Telstra mobile team; twelve weeks of hard work has led us to this defining point. As I was delivering the presentation the Finance Manager interjected mid-way with a curly question and for a moment I felt lost…”

Further, prior to commencing the course the idea of repeatedly meeting with the lecturer for consults was slightly confronting. With hindsight, such direct access to the teaching staff to discuss your work is a luxury that rarely occurs in other courses. During the consultations the lecturer engaged with our team more as a facilitator rather than an assessor and provided feedback that often provoked our analytical thinking and prompted us


A reflection

How my Management Consulting experience can be likened to a glazed fruit tart Rannia Al-Salihi is a final year Bachelor of Commerce student majoring in economics and finance. She completed her team project with Employment Services Holdings (ESH) to identify opportunities to increase the participation rate of job seekers in the Australian labour market.

First, there is the all-important shortcrust base, symbolising the initial few weeks of meeting the team, meeting the client and understanding the task at hand. Developing team cohesion was a vital part of establishing a strong base before we could proceed with the weighty data analysis. Defining each member’s role, identifying everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and establishing clear communication channels were undertakings that were outlined in our team contract. Applying the lecture content to the project initially proved to be quite challenging and it wasn’t until week 5 before I began to understand how I was going to marry what we were learning in class to what we applied to our project. Selectively evaluating the methods and models I deemed most applicable prompted a level of responsibility and independent learning which was one of the steepest learning curves I faced. From weeks six to nine, the team was purely focused on defining our approach to analysing the copious amount of data. By this stage, we had clearly outlined the quantitative element of the project task and our deliverables to the client. Everyone was on the same page, roles had been clearly defined and we were ready to dive in the deep milky centre of the tart. My preconceived idea of the subject was that teams would largely be expected to undertake qualitative analysis and apply models, diagrams and theories to their clients marketing or competitor analysis strategies.


I had not expected to undertake what was essentially quantitative data analytics. As the custard thickened, we were forced to do continuous checks to make sure our work was directly related to our project scope. At this point, the team had found its rhythm and the tart had started to take its form. After we had chewed through the data and identified our key findings, we were where at a point where we had a fully formed tart, without any toppings. In other words, we hadn’t established what our value-add would be to our clients. I believed we needed some qualitative data to support the numbers and I also felt our report lacked imagination and creativity. Given the report was very quantitatively oriented, I saw the need to deliver a more well-rounded and holistic report by incorporating some qualitative elements. As a result, we developed State Partnership Opportunity Profiles, and it was an element of the report that the CEO of ESH was particularly interested to hear more about. With this, we managed to add the fruit topping to our tart and the result was almost complete. The important final step was the glaze that would change our tart from homemade to pâtisserie. We had already identified every member’s strengths and weaknesses, so those who indicated their strengths in developing presentations spent the final week tying up loose ends. The skills I gained in formatting, layout, visual fluency and the tone of a business report were ones that I will certainly take away with me from this experience.

We came such a long way from the first progress note where we hadn’t yet understood the professional relevance of constant margins on a page and writing fluidly. In my opinion, the final report was professionally presented and displayed a good balance of quantitative and qualitative findings. As a team, we were incredibly proud of our finished product; the glazed fruit tart.

We worked hard, persevered and were able to produce a piece of work that each and every one of us was proud of.

Twelve weeks ago in early March, over 80 students gathered in the Business and Economics building to embark on their respective journeys in the Management Consulting program. Intrigued, eager and circumspect were just some of the emotions I was feeling as I walked out of that first lecture after quickly meeting my teammates with whom I would be tackling this unfamiliar task. Soon, the five of us found ourselves in the fishbowl room at ESH’s Collins St offices and the project was well underway. The next three months brought with it some challenges, steep learning curves and memorable triumphs. My experience in this program can be linked to the layers in a glazed fruit tart.

To conclude, this experience has been riddled with highs and lows, but what I found to be the most satisfying was seeing just how far our team had come during the twelve weeks. We certainly had some initial struggles with comprehending the complexity of the project and working as a cohesive team at first. However, we worked hard, persevered and were able to produce a piece of work that each and every one of us was proud of. I developed my interpersonal skills, my report writing skills and my ability to take initiative and lead a team. I look forward to transferring these skills to my future career – in Management Consulting perhaps!

where are they now?

Victoria Fenton Victoria Fenton completed the subject in semester 2, 2013, working on a project for Zoos Victoria. She has just completed her final semester and will graduate with a double major in management and marketing. We asked her to reflect on her experience in this subject. What was your most memorable moment in the subject? The feeling of accomplishment when submitting the final report. My team and I were so happy to submit it, but we had all formed such a close bond so it was sad that we wouldn’t be spending so much time with each other every week! So what are you doing with yourself these days? I am about to start work at a Melbourne based market research and consulting firm.

The student team with their client facilitator Laura Hillis from Zoos Victoria: (L-R) Cindy Phan, Claire Zheng, SuAnn Chan, Laura Hillis, Francis Ostermeijer and Victoria Fenton.

Any words of wisdom for new students doing the subject? When I started this subject I felt like I was being thrown into the deep end and I was expected to hit the ground running. You are expected to work to an incredibly high standard and under strict time constraints, all while remaining professional in front of your team and client. This was very daunting for me; however, if I had to do it all over again I would do it in a heartbeat. Having this kind of experience on your resumé makes you stand out and gives you skills that are valuable no matter what

If you had to describe your experience in the subject in three words, what would they be? Rewarding. Invaluable. Challenging.

career path you choose. From what I have discovered during my job search, employers find this kind of experience very attractive and it makes you highly desirable. Ultimately, I believe this subject was one of the main reasons why I was successful in finding a job so quickly.

Rinaldhy Oosterman Rinaldhy Oosterman completed the subject in semester 2, 2013, working on a project for the Walt Disney Company (Australia). He completed his Bachelor of Commerce in 2013 and is currently studying a Master of Commerce (Marketing). We asked him to reflect on his experience in this subject. What was your most memorable moment in the subject? Our client was The Walt Disney Company, which, in itself, is memorable but my most memorable moment was when my team did our final presentation. In the room while we were presenting were about 15 of the Melbourne office’s top managers including the Managing Director of the company in Australia. We were all really excited but more than that, oh so very nervous. “What if we just forgot what to say? What if we just froze on up there? They’d think that we were just silly students who were wasting their time!”

If you had to describe your experience in the subject in three words, what would they be? Challenging. Teamwork. Awesome.

But the presentation, started, and finished, without a hitch. At the end we all breathed a sigh of relief. What was even better was that we actually got applauded and a moment that will stick with me for a long time to come was when the MD told us that we had inspired him. The man running the company that inspires for a living, said we were inspirational!... Yeah that was pretty memorable So what are you doing with yourself these days? These days, I am doing a Masters of Commerce (Marketing) at the Melbourne Business School and I’m working part time. I did some work for Disney following my the subject, but I’ve always wanted to try my hand at advertising, so now I’ve got a couple of potential internships lined up, so we shall see! Any words of wisdom for new students doing the subject?

The student team with their client facilitator Anthony Moloney from Disney and a guest appearance from Sulley (Monsters Inc.): (L-R) Alvina Tjandra, Rinaldhy Oosterman, Amelia Chang, Sully, Anthony Moloney, Liyi Dai and Aaron Lim.

Enjoy it! It’s a challenge, it’s new, it’s different. You’ll be fine! One thing that I always am reminded about this subject is how important your team is, not only to you, but to your client. You need to represent just that, a team. So have a coffee to get to know each other, be a bit silly, just have fun with the experience and each other, and I promise you it’ll be the most awesome experience you’ll have studying! (Don’t tell the other lecturers I said that… I still go here) Any additional comments? Be patient!



Choosing the ‘Right’ Project Many prospective client organisations ask for advice on what type of project is ideal for the Management Consulting program. There is no straightforward answer, as projects vary greatly between organisations, although projects should be of strategic and/or operational importance to organisation, should require the application of skills and knowledge from business disciplines; should address an open-ended question that requires critical thinking and problem solving, and of course should be feasible within a 10-week period. If your project requires a longer timeframe, think about splitting it into two or three smaller projects, so that the student team can explore one area in more depth rather than skimming the surface of a larger topic. David Carbines, Social Enterprise Architect at the Difference Incubator, has worked with a number of student consulting teams. He says, “we engage consulting students to solve broad questions that combine an academic/ theoretical basis with real-world application. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the high standard of consulting-student recommendations in the past, and would recommend them to organisations looking to add additional research capability to their management team.” In our experience, as long as the project is of importance to the client

Looking to host a student team? The Management Consulting subject runs twice a year: • Semester 1: early March to late May • Semester 2: early August to late October

organisation, and the project facilitator is willing to invest a bit of time to engage with the students, the arrangement will be a success.

About The Difference Incubator The Difference Incubator (TDi) builds the capacity of social enterprises, to enable them to deliver quality products and services in a commercially sustainable way, while improving the lives of the disadvantaged groups they work with. TDi was founded in July 2013 by Chief Executive Officer, Bessi Graham and Executive Chair, Paul Steele, after a number of years as a pilot project of donkey wheel Charitable Trust. They operate in a pioneering space, building the market of social enterprises capable of consistently delivering blended value returns – both social and financial.

Our Supporters Semester 1, 2014 clients: Australian Communities Foundation Australasian Retail Credit Association Beeline Channel 31 Deloitte Disney ESH Group Fitzroy Adventure Playground (Cubbies) Giblin Eunson Library KPMG Kildonan UnitingCare Medibank The Ranelagh Club The Difference Incubator Telstra WithOneSeed Zoos Victoria

Want to know more? Visit http:// CEO Bessi Graham talks to The Age’s Michael Short in The Zone: the-business-of-change-201307022p9vm.html TDi’s first capital raise, Team Wild, is making a positive impact on the Great Barrier Reef: http://vimeo. com/95632343 Confirmation of projects is sought approximately three months before each offering commences. To get involved, contact: Jacqui Hoare, Capstone Studies Coordinator

We are pleased to welcome respected global management consulting firm A.T. Kearney as a program partner. From 2014, the A.T. Kearney Australia Prize for Management Consulting will be awarded to the student with the highest mark in this subject each year. A number of our program alumni have gone on to successful consulting careers at A.T. Kearney and we look forward to an ongoing relationship in the years to come.

Email: Phone: 8344 1922

Are you a Bachelor of Commerce student looking to do this subject? Students are selected for this subject via a competitive application process. Applications open in Week 9 of the preceding semester. See for more information or email au if you have questions.


The Willis News [Issue 1, 2014]  

Issue 1, July 2014 The Bi-annual newsletter for the Management Consulting program run by the Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE) at the...