Tapping into the wealth of knowledge at CUB

By Elena Ksefteris

For the first time, Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) have partnered with Melbourne Business School (MBS) to host the Business Practicum, an intensive subject where students experience the unique business practices and culture of a company first-hand.

Students receive hands-on experience as in-company consultants, in an environment that allows them to start building a network of valuable professional contacts. At the same time, industry partners have the chance to tap into the knowledge, passion, innovative experience and focused energy of MBS students.

The brief for this Business Practicum was to get more women aged 18-24 to choose beer more often. The team was made up of four students, with a variety of program backgrounds. Over the course of the subject, they worked closely with CUB (APAC South) Strategy Director, Isaac Lowrie, who was highly impressed by their recommendations and is now implementing them.

The Business Practicum team with Isaac Lowrie, Strategy Director – APAC South, CUB (second from left).

“The group showed great initiative – getting out to speak to consumers and managers at bars and bottle shops. While we have some data on the barriers, this primary research really adds colour to our understanding of why they exist and what to do about them.

"The team then took these insights and identified three key personas within this 18-24 year-old female group. They then made really creative, practical recommendations on which of our brands are best placed to meet each of these personas’ needs. They set out the product changes, pricing and distribution strategies, marketing campaigns and the experiences and partnerships to do so. Really great work,” he said.

L-R: Lisa Nawarra, Maria Cruz, Widia Winari Bunga and Tien Phan.

Master of International Business Student Maria Cruz thrived on the experience. “Working at CUB was an immersive experience that allowed my team and I to work on a real business case. The Practicum was complemented by a deep dive into the organisation through meetings with business units from sales to analytics, brand managers, and legal representatives.

CUB's distinct work culture was expressed through their openness and warmth and my engagement with CUB allowed me to look at critical insights and decipher their business implications. I looked at beer consumption and purchase patterns at a deeper level, which allowed me to appreciate the amount of research and care that CUB puts into harnessing the value of their brands,” she said.

The experience of working in a real-life company wasn’t lost on Master of International Business student Tien Phan. “Before coming to MBS, I didn’t have any industry experience and wasn’t sure about what sector I wanted to venture out into after my masters degree. The Business Practicum was the perfect opportunity for me to experiment and explore my employment options by gaining professional experience at a world-leading beverage company. This experience has helped me develop a more fine-tuned view of what I want in the future."

L-R: Maria Cruz, Lisa Nawarra, Lecturer and Academic Advisor, Dr Budhaditya Gupta, Widia Winari Bunga and Tien Phan.

Studies show that having a well-developed range of transferable skills is crucial for the success of individuals, businesses, and societies. Often referred to as employability or ‘soft’ skills, these are the non-technical skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, critical thinking and self-management which are developed through exposure to experiences outside the classroom.

Tien comments, “This experience helped me polish transferable skills like communication, teamwork, presentation skills, professional etiquette, networking and work ethic before I dive into my career. Being a team player is one of the other essential skills to succeed in this program and in the workplace. It is the ability to see the world through others’ eyes and understand what motivates people".

The MBS Business Practicum is a unique, in company learning experience, that gives students the opportunity to discover the business practices and culture of a company first hand. This subject is often referred to by students as a highlight of the MBS experience, that has equipped them with real-world skills, and helped them to begin building a professional network.

Find out more about the Business Practicum here.

Top tips from our Business Practicum participants?

Maria says it’s about being proactive. “I believe that the willingness to learn and proactivity are two key elements in succeeding in any internship or Business Practicum. You must be willing to put yourself out there, ask questions, take measured risks, and be vulnerable in order to grow". And for Tien “Being eager to learn and constantly self-improve is really important. It is the ability to put our feet into the water and try different fields, learn new skills, and gain new experiences. As the old saying goes, a calm sea never makes a skilled sailor, the globalised workplace requires continuous personal and professional development," she said.

Providing the opportunity for work experience can make a huge difference to students starting out in their career and provide an advantage to the host company too. Isaac explains: “I would recommend the project to other organisations: the students were smart, enthusiastic and keen to learn. I think it’s important that businesses invest the time to provide the students with a proper brief, invest time to explain the business context, including existing insights, brand strategy, etc, and provide enough coaching to empower students to make meaningful recommendations.”

A final thought from Tien: “In a nutshell, the Business Practicum experience for me was a package of opportunities gift wrapped with the tag of working for one of the coolest companies ever”.

Melbourne Business School holds information sessions within Australia and internationally throughout the year. If you're interested to know more about MBS programs, click here to see when we will be in a city near you.