With extensive international experience and a prestigious research career, Professor Alex Newman – the Faculty of Business and Law’s new Associate Dean (International) – is keen to see as many students as possible hit the international stage.
‘We’re very focused on enhancing global mobility for our students,’ he says. ‘To enable this we’re creating a broad range of study programs, international internship and volunteering opportunities – these provide real opportunities to experience the practical aspects of working abroad.’
Prof. Newman says no matter where a graduate ends up working, gaining hands-on global experience along the way is crucial for operating in the 21st century business world.
‘If you work for [any] company anywhere it’s very likely that you will be interacting with overseas clients, colleagues or stakeholders – that’s why it’s so important for our students to experience different cultures and different ways of doing business,’ he explains.
The other bonus is that international experience often adds more sparkle to a job application.
‘We know the value of international experience in the job market so one of our goals is to boost the momentum of business and law students heading overseas for study, internships and volunteer placements,’ he adds.
Originally from the UK, Prof. Newman’s began his own global academic journey with a law degree from the University of Bristol.
But rather than pursue a career as a lawyer, he moved onto Asian studies completing an MA in Japanese – a language he is fluent in – before making what he says was a ‘late move’ into management.
‘I’d lived and worked in Japan for four years and I was really interested in Asian management and how different it was to business in the UK and Australia,’ he explains.
Prof. Newman worked in China for nine years at the University of Nottingham’s Ningbo campus where he was involved in setting up business degrees for one of the very first Sino-Foreign joint ventures.
‘In China I was completing my PhD part time [which focused on SMEs in China] while also doing a lot of research examining the issues relating to Chinese business and management,’ he says.
In 2012 he moved to Australia and worked for four and half years at Melbourne’s Monash University before accepting an appointment to Deakin in early 2016.
Currently working on a collaborative ARC-funded project on refugee integration into the Australian workplace, Prof. Newman’s research interests also lie in entrepreneurship, leadership and organisational psychology.
As co-director of Deakin’s Centre for Sustainable and Responsible Organisations (CSaRO) one of his major projects is researching volunteering programs in the workplace.
‘We’re currently working with the ANZ employee volunteering program and looking at what can be improved, what the benefits are for both employees and the organisation, and how to encourage and facilitate a greater level of volunteering,’ he says.
Central to the research is exploring how volunteer programs impact the relationship between the employee and employer.
‘We’re looking at whether or not these programs improve an employee’s commitment to the company. We’re also interested if and how they enhance the wellbeing of employees and their skills.’
While employee programs play a key role in corporate social responsibility, Prof. Newman says it’s also a way that organisations can demonstrate their benefits to communities and employees.
‘Research also shows us that our younger generations value this concept and are looking for organisations that encourage it. So it can actually be part of an organisation’s recruitment strategy in terms of attracting the right employees,’ he explains.
With global citizenship a desirable attribute for many graduates, Prof. Newman says the Faculty of Business and Law encourages volunteering through its Work Integrated Learning (WIL) program which incorporates community-based placements within the not-for-profit sector.
‘The broader WIL program connects organisations, students and graduates. By also providing opportunities and encouragement for students to volunteer it enables them to see the connection between what we teach and what we research,’ he explains.
To ensure global opportunities are accessible for the faculty’s wide range of on and off-campus students – many of whom have significant work and family responsibilities – Prof. Newman says the faculty’s international programs are designed with maximum flexibility.
‘We incorporate very short, intensive programs – such as a two-week study or internship intensive – which give valuable exposure to an international business setting. For example, during that time the student may be given a project that requires a concluding report or presentation to the organisation.’
He says that by also matching academic theories and concepts with globally-integrated programs students gain highly-relevant practical experience.
‘They are learning the theory and also putting it into practice … we’re ensuring they’re given opportunities to apply their knowledge in international settings.’
Prof. Newman’s extensive research, experience and connections within Asia are particularly critical in ensuring students gain contemporary and valuable business exposure.
‘Australian is one of Asia’s top trading partners and we engage closely with many countries in the region so it’s very important that we work constructively with Asia on research and student exchange,’ he says.
While understanding cultural differences – and the nuances that vary from country to country – can be challenging, Prof. Newman says this all the more reason why international experience is vital for graduate careers.
‘The way we engage and work with people from Asian cultures is different to Europe and different again to the US. But we live and work in a global economy so it’s crucial to gain this experience and knowledge. Through our programs, exposure to these differences ensures our students understand diversity in the international business world.’