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Masters students making a real difference with World Vision

A new partnership delivers benefits to World Vision Australia and provides hands-on experience for our business analytics and information systems students.

World Vision Australia’s (WVA) mission is to empower Australians to make change for something they believe in. And now Deakin Business School Masters students are helping contribute to that mission as part of Deakin’s partnership with WVA, offering real-world experiential learning.

Senior students in the Master of Business Analytics and Master of Information Systems degrees are helping World Vision address real world challenges and coming up with ways to address issues and opportunities WVA is currently facing.

The result is a practical, hands-on experience for Deakin students, where they can not only get their hands dirty, but they can see their ideas and actions making a real contribution to a global organisation doing business in real time.

Data Scientist and industry mentor Nasir Khansefid helped to establish the partnership. He says the program is one of the final requirements for Masters students.

“It provides them with the opportunity to work with a real client on a genuine problem, enabling them to develop analytics-based solutions with real-world applications,” he says.

Building confidence for the job market

Nasir adds that the project can give the students confidence as they prepare to enter the job market, as well as providing networking opportunities.

‘Such collaborative projects can lead to internships and graduate programs, as well as potential research collaborations for academic teams,’ he says.

The project also provides a great opportunity for WVA, says Nasir, ‘with the opportunity to collaborate with a large group of enthusiastic analysts, who dedicatedly explore and uncover unseen insights and tackle complex problems using WVA business data. Output of this project can bring significant value for the business.’

Deakin Business School’s Director of Teaching Dr Reza Kachouie has been involved in the WVA partnership since its inception, and he says he sees the program as beneficial all round.

‘I think that this kind of project is a ‘win-win win’ situation,’ says Reza. ‘Students have the chance to work on a real-world problem, which is something expected when they go out to the job market.

‘It’s also a win for WVA, because our students have very good problem-solving skills, and they come with several answers to the same questions so that the client has a chance to see the solution from different angles

‘And the win for Deakin is that, as a university, we are doing something meaningful for the greater good. We always try to work with companies that have something meaningful or relevant to a new generation. So I think that it’s a win for everyone.’

Students bring fresh energy to World Vision

Joseph Tan of World Vision says he sees the partnership adding fresh energy to WVA’s data and analytics work.

‘It is an exciting initiative because it not only benefits the project, but also contributes to the growth and development of future professionals in this field,’ he says.

Joseph says the benefits will also create a ripple effect for students and industry alike.

‘Industry gains access to research, ideas, and a pool of talented individuals ready to contribute to their goals,’ he says. ‘Universities, on the other hand, receive real-world validation of their research, opportunities for practical application, and resources to enhance their academic programs.

‘Together, this partnership drives growth, accelerates advancements, and cultivates a skilled workforce equipped to tackle complex challenges and drive meaningful change in society.’

Combining creativity and analytics skills

Master of Business Analytics student Danny Albertus Sittrop says the partnership with WVA is a great opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge in a practical environment.

‘It is an opportunity to be able to lean into a variety of different skills that you’ve learned over the course of the degree and be able to showcase something in a real world application,’ says Danny.

‘That in itself is really beneficial, that you’ve got freedom of thought and freedom of creativity.

‘And then there’s also your own professional development perspective, which is that we have an opportunity to really understand what a real world problem looks like and not a theoretical problem to solve.’

Danny says the opportunity to work in a hands-on team environment is also unique.

‘There’s the ‘forming, storming and norming’ within a team, and it’s dissimilar to other team assessments because you have the freedom of creativity and thought,’ he says. ‘It’s a different dynamic where you get to learn how to bounce off each other, define responsibilities and roles within that team, and still be able to think creatively about a problem.’

AI focus that looks to the future

Nasir says he sees this partnership as just the foundation for more collaboration opportunities and an ongoing relationship with WVA, including a future internship and graduate program, collaboration opportunities for more departments between Deakin and WVA, and the possibility of initiating research projects aimed at enhancing humanitarian support globally.

‘Collaborative projects between universities and industries focusing on artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics are highly beneficial these days,’ says Nasir.

‘Universities have the opportunity to establish themselves as pioneers in this emerging field. Organisations can also utilise innovative solutions and fresh eyes and skills which can be extremely useful.

‘Activating a collaborative project successfully is a project itself which needs careful planning, resource allocation, networking, and trust-building. However, investing in AI and advanced analytics-based projects is likely to bring significant returns for both universities and industries in the long run.’

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