The Australian - The Deal - - First Up - SA R A H K ELLY Direc­tor MBA pro­gram, Univer­sity of Queens­land Busi­ness School PHIL HAWKES

SARAH Kelly, pro­gram direc­tor of the MBA course at Univer­sity of Queens­land Busi­ness School, doesn’t hold back in dis­cussing UQ’s rep­u­ta­tion. Ranked as the top busi­ness school in Aus­tralia and Asia-Pa­cific by The

Econ­o­mist, UQ is a leader in the com­pe­ti­tion for MBA stu­dents. “We’re even prouder to be ranked in the Top 30 MBA cour­ses glob­ally”, she says.

Kelly ex­em­pli­fies a pas­sion for teach­ing that’s a long way from dry academia, per­haps a re­flec­tion of the Univer­sity’s close link with the Whar­ton School in the US. It's more than just a nom­i­nal tie-up be­tween the two in­sti­tu­tions. Kelly says: “Ev­ery year, five of our MBA stu­dents join five from Whar­ton to tackle a real-world con­sult­ing project known as the Whar­ton Global Con­sult­ing Practicum. They de­velop a US mar­ket en­try or ex­pan­sion strat­egy for an Aus­tralasian com­pany or not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion … past ex­am­ples in­clude Lorna Jane, One Steel and the West Aus­tralian In­dige­nous Tourism Op­er­a­tors’ Coun­cil. It is an amaz­ing op­por­tu­nity for our stu­dents to col­lab­o­rate with a world-class peer group and present their rec­om­men­da­tions at a week-long practicum in Philadel­phia.”

She is equally en­thu­si­as­tic about another pro­gram that ex­poses stu­dents to a dif­fer­ent kind of sit­u­a­tion. In the So­cial Eco­nomic En­gage­ment Pro­gram, stu­dents vol­un­teer to ap­ply their learn­ing to help com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions. They re­ceive no cred­its but are en­cour­aged to sign up and gain real-life ex­pe­ri­ence. For ex­am­ple, the En­deav­our Foun­da­tion ben­e­fited from a busi­ness plan for its re­cy­cling busi­ness that em­ploys and sup­ports dis­abled peo­ple. OzHar­vest, Sec­ond Chance and Sy­napse have also re­ceived sim­i­lar as­sis­tance; another on­go­ing project is the an­nual Yalari Hori­zons Lead­er­ship camp de­signed to in­spire and mo­ti­vate in­dige­nous high school stu­dents.

Off­shore, East Ti­morese cof­fee grow­ers were ad­vised how to de­velop a mar­ket­ing and op­er­a­tions plan; another ex­am­ple was an im­mer­sion trip to In­dia with Op­por­tu­nity In­ter­na­tional to raise funds for its mi­cro-fi­nance pro­gram help­ing women liv­ing in Delhi’s slums.

The pro­gram is face-to-face, with full-time and part-time op­tions but no on­line course. This may be re­garded as old fash­ioned but UQ has stuck fast to this prin­ci­ple in the be­lief that it’s more ef­fec­tive ow­ing to deeper in­ter­ac­tion be­tween fac­ulty and stu­dents ... and be­tween stu­dents them­selves.

UQBS en­gages with busi­ness and in­dus­try at ev­ery stage; in­dus­try lead­ers and en­trepreneurs are in­ducted as lec­tur­ers and pro­vide case his­to­ries for a wide range of busi­nesses, as well as giv­ing stu­dents valu­able con­tacts.

Who are typ­i­cal MBA stu­dents at UQBS? Kelly quotes an av­er­age age of 34, with one third spon­sored by their em­ploy­ers and study­ing part time in a two-year pro­gram. The to­tal co­hort is 450 and is not capped. The 2014 in­take was 160 dou­ble that of 2013. Ap­pli­cants should have at least five years’ busi­ness ex­pe­ri­ence although al­ter­na­tive en­try paths are avail­able. Fees amount to about $48,000.

Just be­fore grad­u­a­tion, stu­dents un­der­take a week-long res­i­den­tial course that tests their knowl­edge, an­a­lyt­i­cal abil­ity, lead­er­ship and pre­sen­ta­tion skills in a live case study … for ex­am­ple, this year it was for Domino’s Pizza. Teams com­pete to make strate­gic busi­ness rec­om­men­da­tions to a high level panel.

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