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Turning classroom knowledge into international skills

DBS postgraduate students tackle real-world supply chain issues in the USA.

Deakin Business School (DBS) students have put their business knowledge into real-world action during a recent Work Integrated Learning program in the USA.

Initiated by Deakin senior lecturer Dr Jane Menzies, and supported by the Faculty of Business and Law’s International team, the collaborative program between DBS and the University of Texas Dallas (UTD) was hosted by Naveen Jindal School of Management with the school’s student-run Supply Chain Leadership Council arranging a schedule of projects, social events and cultural visits.

DBS senior lecturer Jan Fermelis accompanied the students and says the program enabled them to gain hands-on experience in supply chain management which included preparing a case study solution for a competitive challenge based on major US-franchise School of Rock. 

‘Working in teams, the Deakin and UTD students interviewed senior managers of a local School of Rock franchisee developer, researched the organisation plus sourced other demographic information in order to design a model to predict successful business locations for the organisation.’

The winning team included both Deakin and UTD students who received a cash prize and also an opportunity for the UTD students to visit Deakin in 2019.

In addition to the case study project, the students investigated other supply chain management case studies and simulations, visited industry sites – such as FedEx and the US Treasury – and explored the Dallas Zoo, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, the Reunion Tower Observation Deck, and other locations connected with the John F Kennedy assassination.

Master of Business Administration-International (MBA-I) student Mohammed Ansari says the trip was an ‘amazing experience’ which helped him learn to work more effectively in a team, exposed him to the US business market, and enhanced his cultural and heritage awareness.

‘The program had a very positive influence on me. I sharpened my strengths, gained competitive advantage, and transformed my weaknesses into strengths … I believe I’m a more informed and knowledgeable person than before.’

He adds that the experience of working with a diverse group will have a positive impact on his future studies and career.

‘I think I will also be more comfortable working with new people and in the future it will help me in forming a team for my business aspirations.’

Shubhankar Thakur, an MBA(I) student (shown left) originally from India, applied to join the Texas-based WIL program because he knew the exposure to real-life business world in the US would help polish his business skills.

‘Also, coming for India and studying in Australia, the USA is one country which has a totally different aspect to the business scenarios I’m familiar with.  This program was an opportunity to learn about the US markets and how things work across their business sectors.’

He says the diverse range of site and cultural tours also helped clarify his ideas and assumptions about the US business market.

‘DBS and the UTD faculty provided the support I needed to help my learning and enhance my skills … and I made a lot of friends and new networks during trip. Overall it provided me with a great experience … which will only lead to learning more.’

MBA(I) student Chhavi Tyagi says the USA-based program provided the opportunity to gain a new perspective of real business issues, develop professional work practices, and establish new networks.

‘Observe and learn – that’s what I did during the whole program. There were so many things that were new to us in terms of working on the projects, the management, how people there had a professional yet friendly way of networking and showing interest for future businesses. The fact that the whole program was managed solely by students was also really impressive – they did a great job.’

Working on real-time case studies and business problems also gave Chhavi the chance to talk to the company’s management before presenting solutions to its CEO.

‘This was the best part of the program for me, as I was able to practise whatever I learnt in my course which really helped. After getting positive feedbacks from the CEO, my confidence level boosted and now I can share my experience before the prospective hiring companies.’

Deakin University looks forward to reciprocating by hosting UTD students in a similar program in late 2019.* 

Deakin postgraduate students will have an opportunity to be part of the program and are encouraged to monitor new opportunities that become available and register their interest in future programs.

*Subject to student numbers and sufficient interest.

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