Breaking international ground for business

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5 minute read

Students Kyra JayJames OvertonElla Ryan and Cate Watson from The Australian National University (ANU) College of Business and Economics (CBE) are the winning team in this year’s International Business Plan (IBP) Competition.

Now in its tenth year, the IBP allows students to work as consultants for small and medium-sized Australian enterprises, known as SMEs. Three to four teams are assigned to each participating client and compete in preparing the best international market-expansion plan.

CBE’s Research School of Management (RSM) established IBP in 2011. Professor Vinh Lu, Director of RSM, commended the longevity and effectiveness of the competition:

“Work-integrated learning is a strength in the academic offerings within the RSM. I thank the team of academics, Associate Professor Anton Kriz, Alexander Tietge and Daniel Muller for their support of our students’ learning.

The success of the competition is made possible through the ongoing support from and the established partnerships with the ACT Government and the local-business community here in Canberra.”

This year’s winning team created an expansion plan for PPB Technology, a business that has developed a way to measure protease enzymes in UHT milk for the purpose of meeting its shelf-life expectations.

Kyra, James, Ella and Cate identified a target export market and used research to devise a strategy for PPB Technology to enter those markets.

“My sincere congratulations to the wining team! You did so well in the competition and the final pitches. Your work is impressive – well done,” said Professor Lu.

PPB Founder and Managing Director, Stephen Trowell, acknowledges the benefits that came from this opportunity.

“For us, it’s been a fantastic return on the investment of time. And in knowing what we now know, we’d definitely participate again if we got the opportunity,” he said.

In their interview, the team reflect on what they have gained from participating in IBP, and winning the competition.

Kyra (Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Science Psychology)

Q. What was it like developing the plan with your teammates, given that everything you did was online? What did you find challenging and what was the highlight?

As the world is rapidly changing, with more openings for flexible-work arrangements, I value this experience as one that has helped prepare me for the future. Although it was challenging for our group to arrange suitable times to have virtual meetings, I learned the importance of allocating tasks according to our unique skillsets, and setting realistic deadlines for smaller-goal completion. We were able to make use of the online tools available to us, such as Microsoft Teams, to help with organisation and collaboration. By the end of the semester, we were able to produce a plan that we were proud of and grew strongly as a team, despite being fully remote.

James (Bachelor of Commerce)

Q. You developed a plan that would have real-world impact on the way a business operates. What kind of support did you have throughout the competition, and how did it help your team’s plan?

We had support from both Alex and Daniel throughout the semester to ensure we were structuring our report effectively. We also met PPB in person, to ask them questions specific to their industry and sought advice on what they wanted from our group. We were also able to reach out to family and friends who work in small businesses to find out what worked and didn’t work for them, and used their advice for the report.

Ella (Bachelor of International Business)

Q. How does it feel to be part of the winning team? What do you think made your business plan stand out to the judges?

I think what helped our business plan stand out to the judges was that we selected a market that was a less obvious choice, compared to the other markets presented. I also believe our market entry plan was appealing and thorough, as we had taken a broad range of factors into consideration when providing our recommendations, including business culture, local competitors, forecasted sales and pathways for further expansion in the future.

I am so thrilled to be a part of the winning team – we worked very hard throughout the semester and it’s so rewarding to see it pay off.

Cate (Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Commerce)

Q. How did your studies prepare you to take on a task such as this? Did winning the IBP Competition open up new possibilities for your career?

My studies prepared me for the IBP Competition through prior group work and team collaboration I had done in other courses. I believe that the key to doing well in this course is working collaboratively, openly and positively with your team. I only knew one other member of my team prior to the course starting, so I knew that working with people whose study and learning styles were unknown to me was going to be something we had to work through. I believe we did it successfully through supporting each other's triumphs and helping each other when things became too challenging to do on our own. Similarly, we completed the whole course online and never actually met face-to-face until after the competition. The past two years of experience with COVID-19, however, made working with each other on Zoom much easier for us. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the competition and look forward to seeing where this experience can take me in the future.


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