Real solutions for real clients

Headshot left to right of Charles Gill, Jeremy Nicholson, Sarah Soo and Ryan McCoy

5 minute read

Four students from the Australian National University’s (ANU) College of Business and Economics (CBE) were named the winners of the Special Industry Project (SIP) in Semester 2, 2022.

SIP is a work-integrated course offered by CBE, which mimics a real-world consulting environment. In teams, students devise the best solution to a business case, presented by an industry client. During the project, the teams receive assistance from PwC Strategy& mentors. In Semester 2, 2022, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), was the client.

The four students – Sarah SooJeremy NicholsonRyan McCoy and Charles Gill – formed the team “Cactus Solutions Consulting”, and together they tackled CSIRO’s quandary: Improve the impact work that underpins the planning of initiatives within CSIRO. The team presented the solution via a thorough, 34-page final report titled Phage Therapy in Addressing Antimicrobial Resistance.

Ryan, a Cactus Solutions Consulting member, expressed his delight at being part of the winning team:

“Winning SIP was not only a rewarding experience, but also a valuable opportunity to perform practical tasks and gain hands-on knowledge”.

"Both myself and my team members immensely appreciated the chance to apply our skills and learn from one another, making the victory even more meaningful. It taught us the importance of teamwork, problem-solving, and adapting to real-world challenges.”

In their interview, three team members detailed their project, what made it stand out, and how SIP has been a crucial professional experience for them.

Sarah (Bachelor of Economics)

Q. Tell us about the business solution you devised for CSIRO. What do you believe made it stand out to the judges?

We were asked to deliver a business case strategy for the Human Health division at CSIRO under the guidance of Strategy& mentors. Our team came forward with a high-level business operation strategy focusing on the manufacturing and delivery of bacteriophage in response to the Antimicrobial Resistance movement in Australia. I think our proposed business solution stood out in its strategic alignment with Australia’s overall health and medical strategy, and we made this our focal point throughout the semester. We took into careful consideration the uniqueness of CSIRO as Australia’s national science agency, and their primary vision to align itself strategically with government initiatives and concerns for the present and future. Our group was also able to effectively demonstrate a high level of teamwork, which formed the foundation of our final product together as a team. The constant effort in effective communication and collaboration within the team throughout the project largely contributed to us emerging as the winning team for the semester.

Q. What were some of the key challenges you faced when you took on the project? How did you overcome them?

One of the key challenges in SIP was the need to gain a keen understanding of the human health industry in order to develop a well thought business strategy for the CSIRO executives. Deep insights in market trends and potential growth areas were necessary to deliver a practical and innovative business strategy. This was a big challenge for us as we initially felt out of depth given that our team was made up of students, mainly from the commerce and economics disciplines. We were thankful for the guidance of our mentor navigating the challenge set before us. Our mentor’s advice inspired us to come forward with a strategy to tackle the problem. We managed to overcome this ordeal by engaging in extensive individual research, and meeting up with industry experts while managing pressing deadlines. By demonstrating our capabilities collectively and leveraging on our individual strengths, we emerged as the winning team for the semester.

Ryan (Bachelors of Finance and Economics)

Q. What compelled you to apply for SIP, and in which ways has it been valuable to your professional development?

I was compelled to apply for several reasons, including improving my presentation skills, gaining experience in tasks that closely emulate a professional environment, and getting a taste of management consulting. These objectives aligned with my desire to refine my abilities and prepare myself for the working world.

The SIP experience proved to be invaluable. Some of the most significant lessons I learned were the importance of teamwork and effective communication, which are crucial in any professional setting. The close-knit nature of our team, which focused on contestability and constructive discussion, was vital to our success and taught me a lot about working in an effective team. Additionally, SIP taught us the value of taking initiative and diving into projects even when the path forward isn’t crystal clear. This proactive approach not only helped me grow personally, but also allowed our team to adapt and navigate the complexities of real-world situations more effectively. The combined feeling of accomplishment and the vast learning experience will remain a cherished memory for us all.

Jeremy (Bachelor of Actuarial Studies)

Q. Has this experience transformed your future career plans?

SIP was a terrific experience and expanded my career interests. As an Actuarial Studies student, my previous goal had been to become a qualified actuary, and working through the steps to achieve that. Having experienced consulting and collaborating with people from different backgrounds, I feel encouraged to perform in a variety of roles going forward. Overall, SIP has opened up options and aspirations I didn’t previously consider as part of my career path. 

Q. How has SIP contributed to your confidence in your own abilities?

Participating in SIP helped me to develop and improve my entire skillset, from problem-solving to collaboration, as well as gaining in-depth knowledge of our subject matter.

SIP also helped me to advance my skills in perseverance, overcoming several hurdles throughout our project. Teamwork was critical to our success as a group. I also improved my presentation and speaking abilities through practice sessions and a final presentation to the client.

Through SIP, I have become confident that even in situations where I may not be immediately up to standard, I have the ability to learn and adapt, eventuating in a successful final product.


Applications for CBE’s Special Industry Project Semester 2, 2023 close Sunday 9 July. Click here to find out more and apply.

The ANU College of Business and Economics offers an extensive range of specialised programs. Click here for more details.