Transitioning to a More Sustainable Business

By Conor Grace

Conor Grace completed the Business Practicum in his summer break as part of his Master of Management (Marketing) degree. He shares his experience on a student team to complete a management consulting project.

I was recently selected to complete the Business Practicum, where three students and I engaged with Melbourne-based engineering consulting firm, HRL Technology Group. The firm was looking to utilise their current engineering competencies to effectively transition to a more sustainable business function. Throughout the project, I was reminded by a previous lecturer of mine, Ben Neville, who is Co-Deputy Director of Melbourne Climate Futures and Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne, that “doing good in business leads to doing well.”

The Business Practicum provided an invaluable opportunity to put classroom theory into practice by working on a real-life business problem. The three-week intensive simulated a true management consulting project, providing opportunities to work with senior clients, collaborate in a cross-functional team, and fine-tune our management consulting, communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving competencies.

The first step of the project was to effectively identify the problem to be solved. Once this was completed, we had the opportunity to collect extensive primary data from the organisation, which included interviews with key employees across the organisation. Once this primary data was collected, we turned our focus to gathering secondary data, research, and analysis. Finally, we presented our project findings and delivered recommendations that would allow the company to take steps towards implementing their new engineering business function. It was so overwhelmingly rewarding to receive positive feedback from all stakeholders and to hear that the company would actually implement our project recommendations.

Working within a diverse cross-functional team of four students proved vital to the project’s success. Each student came with a wealth of knowledge from different industries and University faculties that encouraged robust debate. Rhya had a background in clinical psychology, having worked with children with disabilities in Thailand, and was in her final six months of the Master of Management. Nayeem was completing his Master of Information Systems and had approximately 10 years of diverse industry experience in business-IT project management. He was also completing a fellowship from the Prime Minister’s Office of Bangladesh that focused on supporting his country’s Sustainable Development Goals. After completing her undergraduate degree in Mumbai, Kavisha was enrolled in the Master of Management (Marketing) program and brought extensive knowledge of how companies could successfully launch in new markets.

The Business Practicum naturally provided challenges, but these were no different from what you might expect within a standard workplace setting. It was important to be adaptable and view every challenge as a learning opportunity. On top of this, my team’s host organisation and academic mentor provided excellent support and guidance to navigate through any project setbacks, which gave us the confidence to know that making mistakes was simply part of the learning experience. Completing the Business Practicum has been the highlight of my degree and I would strongly recommend the subject to any student who is keen to put their degree to the test by taking on the challenge of a real-life business problem.

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