Inside the Melbourne Business Practicum: working with the National Heart Foundation

By Seth Robinson

For the past three years, the National Heart Foundation has partnered with the Faculty of Business and Economics to host the Melbourne Business Practicum. It’s been an opportunity for the students and the foundation alike; for students to get hands-on experience managing unique projects, and for the foundation to tap into a rich and energetic resource. We caught up with Sarah McPherson and Lyn Davies from the National Heart Foundation; and Master of Management (Marketing) student Kim Chetty, to find out more about the program.

The Melbourne Business Practicum (MBP) provides MBS students with the opportunity to enter the workforce and engage in a variety of projects with partner organisations, such as the National Heart Foundation (NHF). It’s a chance for them to connect with local businesses and begin building a network of valuable, professional contacts. For partner organisations, the program provides a resource of passionate and innovative student workers. The NHF has previously assigned MBP project students to look at commercial feasibility studies, and more recently, the opportunity to work on establishing an alumni network.

Sarah McPherson, Kim Chetty and Lyn Davies

“The Heart Foundation raises money from the community to provide funds for cardiovascular health research, usually to support early career researchers. We have 60 years’ worth of researcher alumni, many of whom have gone on to have illustrious careers that may not have happened without this support. We want to create a community for all of our alumni, and it provides us with an opportunity to show our donors how instrumental their gifts have been in creating a body of research and clinical care that helps the community.” Says Lyn.

It’s projects like these that the MBP supports, which benefit from the focused energy of students and otherwise might not have come to fruition.

“The work they get through in a couple of weeks is just phenomenal. They are just so focused. It forces us to define what the questions are, what the process is, and what the outcome we want is. It helps us with planning the rest of our in-house tasks. It’s really helped the business,” says Sarah. “We would absolutely encourage any organisation that’s thinking about taking on one of these groups to, absolutely, go for it. It’s really enriching, not just professionally, but personally as well, as we’re able to see all this new talent make a difference to the team.”

Kim Chetty is one such student, who worked with the NHF as part of the MBP program, and has now, been hired as a casual employee. It’s the first time the NHF has employed a student following the program. It’s been a bonus for the organisation, and it’s given Kim the opportunity to put the skills she’s gained through her studies to practical use.

“I did a lot of general management as part of the project, and now I get to focus on marketing. I love it. It takes a lot of dedication, but I really enjoy it. It’s given me the opportunity to make local connections and build a network in my city.”

Find out more about the University of Melbourne Business Practicum.

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