Image: David Connah
Why did you choose to participate in the CBE Special Industry Project (SIP)?
When I first saw the invitation for non-CBE students to apply for SIP, I was not too keen as I felt it would not be for me. Especially having never done a CBE course before, I was concerned that consulting may be too business-focused and that it would not play to my strengths, yet still I went ahead and applied for it.
Has SIP influenced your future education and career choices?
Prior to this project, I was focused squarely on the traditional employment paths of international relations students such as foreign affairs, government, think tanks, and academia. I am convinced now, more than ever, that my generation will be employed because of skills and experiences rather than career paths. In broadening my horizons outside of the traditional career paths, I am able to leverage the skills I have honed in one employment area towards another. The world of consulting is definitely now on my radar!
How did SIP prepare you for the professional world?
SIP gave me invaluable insight into teamwork: when you have a group of diverse individuals who are passionate about the same thing and are willing to work hard for the same goal, teamwork suddenly becomes amazing. Our team, which we named Sedges Consulting after the native grass, consisted of members who each had very different strengths and came from a range of experiences and backgrounds. No one would expect us to be a team given how different and diverse we were. However, because we all had the same goals and clear expectations of each other, our team not only became a cohesive unit, we thrived together.
What is the most valuable skill that you acquired through SIP?
Excel and PowerPoint! I remember in our first team meeting, my team and I decided to list all our individual strengths and skills so we can leverage them in pursuing a worthy set of recommendations for our client and give our course convenors the old razzle-dazzle. I told my team that my skill was in Excel and PowerPoint and throughout SIP, I found myself constantly learning and improving my knowledge of Excel and PowerPoint. We even wrote our 40,000-word final recommendation on PowerPoint rather than Word because my team and I were impressed with how much I could do with the program.
What were your favourite parts of SIP?
By far, my favourite part was our client-side visit in the beginning of the semester. We participated in a cultural awareness course, learning about indigenous experiences not only equipped us professionally to be culturally sensitive in our project, but also personally in developing our understanding towards reconciliation. Later, we were also able to meet the amazing people at Twofold Aboriginal Corporation and humanise the course.
Can you share an experience from SIP that changed or challenged you personally?
As part of my research on the feasibility and sustainability of one of our recommendations to our client, I visited and was consulted by two egg farms in and around Canberra to learn about the various aspects of egg farming, such as its financial viability, environmental sustainability, and potential for education opportunities. This experience challenged me personally in questioning what I would like to do in life. Thanks to SIP, I am now super keen on opening an egg farm.
What advice would you give to non-CBE students applying for SIP?
Your non-CBE degree is a strength! I first came into the course with a heavy sense of imposter syndrome because I was surrounded by very accomplished CBE students with experiences in business and finance. However, I quickly realised through working in a team that my strengths were their weaknesses and my weaknesses were their strengths! So take a chance and expand your horizons because the course convenors have created an enjoyable and learning space for you to explore the world of consulting.