Melissa Edwards, Tayyab Amjed, John Burns, Teagan Llewellyn, photo by Jennifer Nunez
- A new business subject – Integrating Business Perspectives – is helping students work together
- It was launched in 2011 and examines the role of business in society and the environment
Ethics, sustainability and corporate social responsibility – the business world is changing. As are the next generation of business graduates. At UTS, the Integrating Business Perspectives (IBP) subject is challenging the way students look at developing new business ideas and their own creativity and confidence.
“I like to get big creative ideas and make them happen,” says first-year Bachelor of Business student and Integrating Business Perspectives (IBP) study group leader Teagan Llewellyn.
As part of the IBP subject, which was launched last year, students work in groups to develop a business concept they can pitch to investors. The subject, which is open to all students across UTS but mandatory for those studying business, aims to help students work together and look at problems in new ways.
Llewellyn says, “We’ve learned to take an idea, start working and recognise the ‘eureka’ moment.” This year, Llewellyn’s group developed an idea for a household power-monitoring system using a smartphone interface. They named it Smart Power because it allows the user to switch between non-essential devices when power is cheaper or there is less load on the grid and to get the ‘smarter’, most efficient energy package for their home.
Llewellyn says the group wanted to do something creative, but that was also grounded on proven technology and an assessment of what the market and the environment can support. “The project had to reflect the realities of the business world, it had to be something that would work and be viable in the market.”
IBP Subject Coordinator Dr Melissa Edwards says this kind of real-world outlook is fundamental – the subject itself was designed over two years by a cross-university team, in consultation with the UTS Business School and industry. “The subject examines the role of business in society and in the environment. Our key themes concern acting ethically, planning for sustainability and exercising creativity.”
Last year, in recognition of their unique approach, Edwards and the development team behind IBP received a UTS Teaching and Learning Citation. The prize money is being used this year to conduct focus groups to further develop and refine the subject.
According to Edwards, the project begins with students spending four weeks practising creative approaches to problem solving. “We work with problems known as ‘wicked problems’, which have no neat solution, and include issues such as climate change. The students have to consider the various stakeholders involved and the different approaches they could use to deal with the issues.”
Over the next seven weeks, students work in teams to develop their concept, identify stakeholders, conduct market analysis, learn how to create ‘buzz’ around their product and develop a business case. The teams deliver two pitches – the first to potential users and the second to potential investors. Workshop leaders then select teams to compete in the Wicked Business Concept Competition. This year’s competition was held in July.
Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Business student John Burns’ group developed a concept for solar roof tiles. He says, “IBP lays a foundation for the other business subjects. We don’t just focus on money, we have to balance what the business needs with strategies to address concerns about consumption and climate change.”
IBP Tutor Tayyab Waqas Amjed agrees: “This is about real ethical dilemmas. The examples are based on life.”
Amjed, who previously worked for Nestlé, says employers are looking for people who can work with issues of ethics and sustainability as well as profits and supply chains. And graduates need to be able to meet that need. He says the subject prepares students to meet real-world professional challenges and gives them a broad view of the business world.
“IBP helps students establish their soft skills, like communication and team work,” says Amjed. “Anywhere they work in the world there will be a range of different cultures and skills in business teams. The project work in IBP helps students develop skills for working together, such as communicating, reporting, and giving feedback.”
“One of the great things about IBP,” says Llewellyn, “is we learn to use the strengths in the group. That’s something that works at UTS and a skill we’ll need to work in business too.”
Byline: Paul Clark, Masters of Journalism via newsroom.uts.edu.au