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Dr Andrea North-Samardzic: Deakin MBA Course Director

With a strong track record in teaching, research and industry engagement, Deakin’s new MBA Course Director is passionate about delivering a customised MBA experience.

As Deakin’s new MBA Course Director, Dr Andrea North-Samardzic believes in delivering a world-class program that stretches beyond being flexible – it also must be made-to-order.

Andrea is a senior lecturer in the Deakin Business School (DBS) where she specialises in leadership, technology and ethics and has published research in biometric technology ethics, learning technologies, charismatic leadership, and moral disengagement.

She says that while flexible learning is a hallmark of Deakin’s globally-recognised MBA, it’s also underpinned by a distinctive, customised approach.

‘An MBA is a global brand so at Deakin we educate our candidates on the global MBA capabilities of strategy, marketing, management, finance, economics, accounting, operations and technology. There is no fixed agenda for 21st C skills – it depends on who you are, where you work, what you want to do, and where you want to go.’

Andrea’s academic teaching career commenced before she completed a PhD at the University of New South Wales and, for the past 18 years, she has taught widely across Australian and international universities in organisational behaviour, operations management, strategy, technology and innovation.

Teaching in Deakin’s MBA program since 2015, she also designed and led the University’s innovative Master of Leadership program from 2016–2019.

In addition to her responsibilities as MBA Course Director, Andrea delivers executive education for corporate clients, hosts government delegations from Asia, and participates in international teaching and research projects.

 With a strong track record in business engagement, her work has also delivered significant funding for industry-based projects.

‘These have included a fully-funded project with the Reece Group to develop a future capabilities framework for the plumbing and complementary trades, a Government of India initiative to fund MBA teaching Symbiosis University in Pune and also work on the book Entrepreneurship in India which will be published by Routledge in 2021.  Another project is the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation Innovation Grant which supports older persons in re-joining the workforce,’ she explains.

Over her career, Andrea has observed many changes across academia but says one of the most important is the demand to demonstrate the impact of university teaching and research.

‘The art of cinema is “show, don’t tell”. Increasingly, we also need to show the impact of the work we do – not just say how it could make a difference. This isn’t just in my field but in all fields. Industry engagement is everything. We are in an applied discipline that needs to make measurable difference to the way businesses operate.’

She suggests that educational technologies will play an increasingly crucial role in the future of education and is keen to push ‘edtech innovation’ to create more customisable courses.

‘Flexibility via technology is old news – customisability via technology is where it is at. Technology ethics is also something we need to grapple with. We cannot forge ahead with tech innovations without considering the ethical implications of what we are doing. Legislation will never keep pace with tech innovation so we need to educate people with the critical thinking skills to manage the difficult terrain ahead.’

For Deakin MBA students this means a tailored and adaptable MBA experience that enables them to focus on their unique interests, strengths and career goals.

‘Our MBA candidates can choose how and what they want to learn and we help them learn this in new ways. Core units can be taken as residentials (for better networking), study tours as electives, intensive units that enhance their strengths, and wonderful industry events that forge important business relationships. We want our students to experience everything the Deakin MBA has to offer – and in the way that suits them best.’

As a teacher, researcher and now course director, Andrea says her work is endlessly rewarding.

‘When a student learns something new, no matter how small, the fact I’m able help make that happen is incredibly rewarding. As a researcher, being able to create new knowledge in, and of, itself is wonderful, important and interesting. Even better is when I’m able to help an organisation address a meaningful problem through applied research. Like a medical doctor, treating an organisational illness is very rewarding. But the biggest thing for me is opportunity. If my work as MBA Director and researcher, can provide career access and opportunity for our students then my work is done.’