CONNECTTHE ALUMNI MAGAZINE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY BUSINESS SCHOOL
ISSUE 23 /MARCH 2014
Besa Deda’s inspiring career
in the banking sector
CO-DEANS’ MESSAGE 02
BUSINESS BRIEFS 03
GREATER TIES TO CHINA 08
RHYME AND REASON OF
CLOSER TO COMPLETION 12
TALKING UP START-UPS 13
As 2014 progresses, so too will our new state-of-the-art
Business School facility. As we report, the project is on
schedule and will be ready to accommodate the school in
In this edition we also look at the Business School’s rapidly
evolving relationship with China (page 8); we profile alumna
Besa Deda who is now Chief Economist for the St.George
Banking Group (page 6) and we provide an update of the
activities of our multidisciplinary research networks.
Importantly, we also report on the establishment of the
Business School’s Business Alumni Network (page 5). Having
this network in place marks another significant and exciting
milestone in the Business School’s development and we invite
you to actively participate in its activities in 2014.
Finally, we would like to congratulate John Brogden AM and
Trevor Danos AM who were recognised for their contribution
to our community in the Australia Day honours.
Professor Tyrone Carlin and Professor David Grant
Co-Deans, The University of Sydney Business School
WELCOME TO OUR FIRST
EDITION OF SYDNEY BUSINESS
CONNECT FOR 2014.
We would like to take this opportunity to wish our
alumni and friends a very happy New Year.
The year ahead is promising to be exceptional for the
University of Sydney Business School. We will further
consolidate our position as one of the world’s leading centres
for management and leadership education; continue to excel
as a thought leader across an extraordinarily broad range of
disciplines and see a Business School of the future rising on
the Abercrombie Precinct redevelopment site (see story
Of course, we look forward to a successful 2014 confident in
the knowledge that it will be built on foundations laid in 2013,
a year which saw our Master of Management Program ranked
in the world’s top 50 by the prestigious Financial Times and
our Global Executive MBA named the number one program of
its kind in Australia by the Australian Financial Review’s
In late 2013 we strengthened our learning and teaching
environment by starting a major hiring round for new staff
in areas of strategic significance. By the end of 2014 we will
have engaged more than 30 new staff, including several new
professors. We fully expect that these highly talented people
will make an outstanding contribution to the delivery of our
world-class undergraduate and postgraduate programs this
year and beyond, and that they will further enhance our
capacity to produce world-class research of value to business,
government and the community.
2013 saw the highly successful launch of our innovative
and industry-oriented MBA program, with a unique mix of
units focused on leadership development and traditional
management skills. This year we will expand the program
with two new core units, ‘Critical analysis and thought
leadership’ and ‘Managing people and organisations’, and four
new elective subjects. These new units will cover important
aspects of leadership, strategy and vital communication skills.
Optimistic: Professor Tyrone Carlin and Professor
David Grant, Co-Deans of the Business School
WORLD RANKING FOR OUR
London’s highly respected Financial Times has ranked the
Business School’s Master of Management Program in the
top five courses of its kind in Asia and in the top 50 in the
world. The course was the only Australian program to be
ranked by the Financial Times.
Meanwhile, the Australian Financial Review’s BOSS
magazine has given the top ranking to the Business
School’s Global Executive MBA in its biennial assessment
of management programs.
WOMEN OF INFLUENCE
The Chancellor of the University of Sydney and Business
School alumna, Belinda Hutchinson, and the Business
School’s Professor of Employment Relations, Marian Baird,
have both been named among the Australian Financial
Review’s ‘100 Women of Influence’.
The awards are dedicated to identifying and celebrating the
bold, energetic women who are changing Australia.
TOP APPOINTMENT FOR
The Business School’s Professor of Business Regulation,
Professor Andrew Terry, has been appointed to the
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s key
Franchising Consultative Committee.
Professor Terry, an internationally respected expert on
franchising, is currently engaged in a two-year research
project to identify the structural, regulatory, commercial and
legal barriers to the franchising sector in Southeast Asia.
The Business School’s Institute of Transport and Logistics
Studies has joined with six of the world’s leading research
institutions to address the complex challenges facing
shipping ports around the world.
The group, to be known as the Global Port Research Alliance,
aims to establish a research and training platform in port
operations, maritime and logistics through collaboration
between its members and with industry.
ON AUSTRALIA DAY
We would like to congratulate the following alumni who were
recognised in the Australia Day honours for 2014.
Mr John Brogden AM (MPA ’01), graduate who has served
as Chairman, Lifeline Australia since 2012.
For significant service to the community through
representational roles with social welfare organisations,
particularly Lifeline, to the business and financial sectors,
and to the Parliament of New South Wales.
Mr Trevor Danos AM (LLB ’81, BEc ’81, GradDipSc ’12),
graduate and current Independent Chair, Steering
Committee, Sydney Adventist Hospital Clinical School at
the University of Sydney.
For significant service to the community through
contributions to a range of scientific, education,
government, legal and charitable associations.
STUDENTS HAVE A VOTE
The Business School’s annual Academic and Professional
Staff Awards have for the first time included a students’
choice category. Dr Angelo Aspris and Vycke Zheng Wu
(both from the Discipline of Finance); Dr Boris Choy
(Discipline of Business Analytics); and Angela Hecimovic
(Discipline of Accounting) were chosen for awards from
more than 600 student nominations.
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EXPANDS IN 2014
The Business School’s innovative MBA program is to be
expanded in 2014 with two new core units and four elective
subjects designed to equip the next generation of creative
business leaders with cutting-edge management skills. The
new core units are ‘Critical analysis and thought leadership’
and ‘Managing people and organisations’.
The flagship MBA was launched in March 2013 with a mix
of core units focusing on leadership development as well as
more traditional and technical management areas of strategy,
accounting, finance, data analytics, marketing, HR and
GRADUATION THANK YOU
Thank you to our alumna Arahni Sont (BEc’ 79), Board
Member, Arts Access Australia and Business Alumni
Network Executive Committee member, for providing an
engaging occasional address to postgraduate students and
families at our graduation ceremony on 11 October 2013.
SAVE THE DATE – CONNECT
OVER COCKTAILS IN SYDNEY
The first Connect over Cocktails alumni networking
reception for the year will be held from 6 – 8pm on
Thursday 3 April 2014 at the University of Sydney Business
School CBD Campus, Level 17, 133 Castlereagh Street, with
guest speaker Angus Harris, Co-CEO, Harris Farm Markets.
To register your interest in attending, please email
CULTURE IS KEY TO A CAPABLE
Chief of the Australian Army, Lieutenant General David
Morrison AO, told the Business School’s Annual Alumni
Dinner in October 2013, “The Australian Army needs to have
a more inclusive culture, because if it doesn’t, it won’t be
the capable force you need it to be.”
Lieutenant General Morrison spoke at length about the role
of leaders in the development of organisational cultures, the
army as a business, and the need to include more women in
the Australian Defence Force.
“I can think of no-one better qualified to dispense insights
on subjects like organisational leadership and management
cultures than the Chief of the Australian Army”, concluded
Business School Co-Dean, Professor Tyrone Carlin.
HEAD OF KEY UN WOMEN’S
MERITOCRACY IS A MYTH
“While a merit-based system might seem fair, it is heavily
influenced, perhaps unknowingly, by preconceived notions
of men and women and their roles in society,” said the
Executive Director of the Australian National Committee of
UN Women, Julie McKay (EMBA’ 11) at a Business School
Connect over Cocktails alumni event in November 2013.
Ms McKay said that when a woman seeks a promotion or
asks for a pay rise, she risks being seen as overly ambitious
and arrogant. However, when ambition is talked of as a male
quality, it is considered to be “important for leadership”.
“The biggest challenge is to educate men to understand
what equality means to their mothers, their daughters and
their sisters,” Ms McKay said.
Co-Dean, Professor David Grant; Lieutenant General David Morrison AO; and
Adjunct Professor Hugh Harley, President of the Business Alumni Network
The Business School launched the
University of Sydney Business Alumni
Network (BAN) in line with its drive to
strengthen ties between current students,
graduates, academics and industry.
BAN membership will be granted automatically to all
Business School graduates, and will be open on an opt-in
basis to all other University of Sydney alumni and friends.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Dr Michael
Spence, described alumni as critical to the University and to
the Business School.
“Alumni are enormously important to the life of the University
not only because they are our friends but because they are
our advocates in the community,” Dr Spence said. “They also
have a role to play as we think through strategy and the
He added that “they are also important as philanthropic
support for the University”.
Adjunct Professor Hugh Harley (BEc ’84, LLB ’86), Financial
Services Leader at PwC Australia and an Honorary Professor
at the Business School, was elected President of the
“I believe that universities are ultimately about communities
and the success of a university really does need two-way
communications between itself and its community. Alumni
are a way to do that,” Adjunct Professor Harley said. “People
can support the University in all sorts of different ways and,
of course, the University can also support its alumni. It’s a
great two-way trade.”
President of the University of Sydney Alumni Council, Mrs
Annie Corlett (BEc ’80), said she was “delighted” by the
response from the Business School community.
“I am certain that the BAN will provide new ways for alumni
to reconnect with the University, the Business School and
each other,” she said.
Co-Dean, Professor Tyrone Carlin, said that BAN members
would “benefit from opportunities to increase their business
networks, further develop their capacity to serve as
business leaders and discover ways that they can provide
ambassadorial support to the Business School”.
“The Business Alumni Network represents an important step
for the Business School in our efforts to leverage the depth
and breadth of business talent that the school has fostered
and produced over the years,” added Co-Dean, Professor
For more information on the new network, visit
From left to right, Hui Zheng, Emma Ringland, Matthew Gibbs, David Jacobs,
Hugh Harley, Arahni Sont, Frank Perry, Simon Thorp; absent: Michael Crivelli,
Julie McKay, Kate O’Reilly
INVITATION FROM THE
FACULTY OF ARTS AND
SOCIAL SCIENCES TO
PRE-2011 ECONOMICS ALUMNI
In January 2011, the economics component of the Faculty
of Economics and Business was merged with the Faculty
of Arts to create the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
Those who graduated with an economics degree before
that date are eligible to receive communications from the
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
For more information, please contact Kate
Macfarlane, the faculty’s Alumni Relations Manager,
THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY BUSINESS SCHOOL ALUMNI MAGAZINE 2014 THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY BUSINESS SCHOOL ALUMNI MAGAZINE 20144 5
The University of Sydney inspired Besa
Deda to achieve extraordinary success
in the banking industry, but dedication
and good fortune also helped her
along the way.
Early in her career Besa Deda (BEc (Hons) ’97) was told
that her success would be determined by what she knew
and who she knew, as well as a little luck. Now, having
reached the top in her chosen career, Besa (pictured right)
believes that those observations were extraordinarily astute.
Besa is the Chief Economist for the St.George Banking
Group, which includes the Bank of Melbourne, BankSA and
RAMS. She is one of the youngest people to hold such a
senior position in the banking and finance sector and one of
the few women to do so.
“The University of Sydney gave me much of what I needed
to know and some of the who I needed to know, through
the contacts that I made while I was studying there,” says
Besa, adding that there may also have been a little luck
along the way.
Knowledge, networks and luck, perhaps, but Besa’s
success also owes a lot to her determination and her
capacity for hard work.
When asked about her earliest university memories, she
surprisingly recalls Aesop’s fable of the Grasshopper and
the Ant and the lecturer who recounted the story. The fable
extols the virtues of hard work and planning for the future.
SOFTER SKILLS CRUCIAL
Besa appreciates the technical skills gained at university but
says that the “softer skills” were also important. “You can
have 10 people in a room and they can all have the same
degree but they might not all be great communicators or
have strong interpersonal skills,” she says.
After completing her honours degree in economics in 1997,
Besa joined the Colonial Group’s graduate program and
in 1999 was appointed economist in the Group’s Treasury
Services. In 2000 she moved to the Commonwealth Bank
of Australia as an economist with CommSec and then with
Global Markets. Besa also had roles as a strategist in foreign
exchange and senior strategist in fixed income.
She was appointed to her current position with the
St.George Banking Group in 2008. “I have responsibility for
the bank’s economic research and forecasting,” she explains.
“This includes forecasting the RBA’s cash rate, bond yields
and currencies. I also provide assessments of where the
Australian economy is now and where it is likely to go and
convey these assessments to staff, clients and the media.”
Is the fact that she is one of the youngest chief economists
in the country and one of the few women in such a role
important to her? “It is important in that it is a privilege to
be in this position and there are some people who might be
encouraged by it for their own careers,” she says. “But of
most importance to me is that I am in a job that I really love.
The people I work for and with are also important.”
Has the pathway to the top been more difficult for a
female economist? Again, Besa says no. “I have certainly
not come across any glass ceilings here at St.George. The
team has always been supportive. I have two young children
and St.George has been incredibly supportive of flexible
Besa recalls her first St.George presentation to the board
and executive management. “A lot of people in that room
later sent emails of encouragement and that has stuck with
me,” she says.
“Sometimes I am asked externally to give presentations
because they need a female on the panel but I don’t see
that as discrimination,” Besa says. “I think they are making
an effort to be inclusive and I see it as an opportunity to
“I have had a career path and I have not necessarily found it
harder because I am a female.”
While Besa may not face age or gender-related questions,
her professional knowledge and her ability to forecast
economic outcomes is regularly tested by not only
St.George’s senior management and the group’s clients, but
also dinner party guests and members of the public.
“People often think that as an economist you have the
answer to everything,” she says.
OK, so what about the outlook for the Australian economy?
Besa answers by saying that she is expecting a gradual
economic recovery in 2014, but with the slowdown in mining
investment, Australia’s ability to transition growth to the
non-mining sector will be crucial.
“We are focusing on the decline in investment in the
resources sector and the non-mining sector’s capacity to
pick up the slack so the economy can continue to grow,”
she says. “This is why the RBA has cut interest rates to
their current level, and we feel it has left the door open for
another rate cut, although it may not take up that option.”
Finally, what advice would Besa offer to today’s students?
“Try to study something that you really enjoy and pursue a
job that you really enjoy because you are likely to be more
successful if you love what you do,” she concludes. “Also,
remember there is something to be learned from any role
you do and, like Aesop’s fabled ant, work hard.”
THE WISDOM OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY BUSINESS SCHOOL ALUMNI MAGAZINE 2014 THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY BUSINESS SCHOOL ALUMNI MAGAZINE 20146 7
Severin.stalder (sourced from 8 June 2013, 21:15:53), The Great Wall of China at Jinshanling, Wikimedia Commons,
viewed 4th February 2014, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Great_Wall_of_China_at_Jinshanling.jpg
BEIJING IS A BUSTLING FINANCIAL AND POLITICAL CENTRE
OF GLASS AND STEEL TOWERS, TRAFFIC SNARLS AND
MORE THAN 20 MILLION PEOPLE, EACH PURSUING THEIR
OWN UNIQUE VERSION OF WHAT PRESIDENT XI JINPING
TERMS THE CHINESE DREAM.
One of those 20 million is Yong
Zeng. In 2004, Ms Zeng established
BESTalent Search Consulting, an
executive recruitment firm which now
counts leading financial institutions
and international law firms among its
clients. Another is Chun Ling (Michael)
Zhang who, after five years with
Motorola, has recently been appointed
Country Senior Marketing Director for
Microsoft MSN, China.
While they may seem to have little
in common, Ms Zeng and Mr Zhang,
along with many other Chinese men
and women, are pursuing their dreams
with cutting-edge business and
leadership skills they gained at the
University of Sydney Business School.
These shared skills were recently
recognised in the 2013 Australia China
Alumni Awards – Ms Zeng (MBA ’01)
was a finalist in the Entrepreneurship
category and Mr Zhang (MMktg ’11) a
finalist in Corporate Achievement.
The Business School currently has
around 3000 Chinese students enrolled
in a wide range of undergraduate and
postgraduate programs. Like Ms Zeng
and Mr Zhang, all of them have a
dream to fulfil.
“The Chinese dream means different
things to different people and our
students are no exception to this,”
says Co-Dean, Professor David
Grant. “But their dreams do share a
common feature and that is to develop
successful careers as business leaders.”
The Business School’s commitment
to providing talented students with
world-class professional and personal
skills is part of a broad policy of
engagement with China for the benefit
of the business sectors, educational
institutions and the people of both
China and Australia.
Over the past year, the Business
School has forged new links and
strengthened existing ties with key
tertiary institutions in China. It has also
established a China-Australia Business
Research Network, which is already
undertaking groundbreaking research.
In recent months, the network has
produced a series of reports on
Chinese investment in Australia in
association with its corporate
THE CHINA EXPERIENCE
Students engaged in the Business
School’s new MBA program have
provided Chinese firms with valuable
insights into doing business in Australia
and with local organisations, while
Master of Management students
have been offered internships with
companies operating in China.
In a tertiary education first, 24 of the
Business School’s MBA students
worked during the year as consultants
to six Chinese organisations keen
to learn about Australia and its
“In cooperation with these Chinese
companies we developed a program
which allowed students to use their
own work experience to provide
advice on the best approach to the
Australian market,” says the Business
School’s Professor of Chinese Business
and Management, Professor Hans
“There is no better place for MBA
students to gain global experience than
on the ground in China, particularly
in Shanghai, which is such a dynamic
business centre,” says the Business
School’s Associate Dean, Management
Education, Professor Richard Hall.
In December and January, more
than 40 undergraduate Bachelor
of Commerce students worked as
interns with 12 multinational and local
firms in China including KPMG, PwC,
the China Energy Conservation and
Environmental Protection Group, and
the accounting firm BDO.
The internships in China were a part of
the Business School’s highly successful
Industry Placement Program.
“This move reflects the importance of
China to the global economy and, more
specifically, Australia’s own economic
future,” said the Director of the
Business School’s Business Programs
Unit, Dr Leanne Piggott.
In August, the Business School signed
a wide-ranging memorandum of
understanding on future cooperation
with the prestigious Zhejiang University
School of Management.
“The Zhejiang University School of
Management and the University
of Sydney Business School are
both ambitious, innovative and
entrepreneurial in their teaching and
research activities and we recognise
these qualities in each other,” said
Co-Dean, Professor Grant.
The Business School also has an
older relationship with Antai College
of Economics and Management at
Shanghai JiaoTong University, where
key elements of its MBA program are
China is Australia’s most important
business and trading partner, and Co-
Dean, Professor Tyrone Carlin, says the
Business School has a vital role to play
in strengthening that partnership.
“We are developing a mutually beneficial
two-way street with China’s clever
young people who recognise the world-
class learning experience on offer at
the Business School, and Australian
students keen to gain valuable insights
into Chinese business,” says Co-Dean,
“These students are the Chinese and
Australian business leaders of the
future and our aim is to ensure that
they are about to work closely
together with a high degree of
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Wikimedia Commons, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:D511-_William_Shakespeare_-_liv3-ch14.png
WHEN BUSINESS MET
ALUMNUS MATTHEW GIBBS (BEc ’89, GradCertPA ’01)
DEMONSTRATES THAT SHAKESPEARE’S POETRY RESONATES
WITH THE MODERN BUSINESS WORLD.
Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again.
That poetic speech comes from the least poetic of
characters – the half-human ‘monster’, Caliban,
in The Tempest.
As unlikely that poetry could drop from the mouth of Caliban,
so it might seem surprising that Shakespeare applies to my
work as the General Manager of Media and Communications
at the Australian Securities Exchange.
But as that undeniably poetic character, Hamlet, observed:
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are
dreamt of in your philosophy.”
Shakespeare’s ‘infinite variety’ of characters and themes,
wisdom and insights offers guidance and nourishment daily.
As his friend and sometime rival Ben Jonson wrote: “He was
not of an age but for all time.”
Good leadership is certainly for all time. In business,
employees crave it and the market rewards it. Henry V
knew it could help him win the battle of Agincourt
against the odds in 1415:
This day is called the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall see this day, and live old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say, ‘Tomorrow is Saint Crispian.’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words –
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester -
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered.
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap, whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
Calls to band together and go the extra mile are as
important in the boardroom as much as on the battlefield.
Having a good name is also important. Companies value it as
‘goodwill’ and link it to trust and reputation.
Shakespeare understood the importance of a good
name, as did one of his least trustworthy characters,
Iago from Othello:
Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls.
Who steals my purse steals trash. ‘Tis something, nothing:
‘Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands.
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.
Not everyone appreciates Shakespeare’s words. There’s
a famous story about a theatre patron loudly complaining
after seeing Hamlet for the first time: “I don’t know why
everybody thinks Hamlet is such a well-written play. It is full
One of them is the financial tip given by Polonius to his
son Laertes: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.” Many a
retirement saving may have been preserved if that advice
had been heeded.
Hamlet himself offers some useful guidance for public
company boards anxious to avoid misleading the market:
Suit the action to the word, the word to the action,
with this special observance, that you o’erstep not the
modesty of nature.
In business, as in life, nothing stays the same for long,
including at the top. Surveys reveal that the average tenure
for CEOs in Australia is less than four and a half years. If a
regime change is on the cards, Macbeth can help: “If it were
done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well / It were done quickly.”
Shakespeare’s kings knew about the transience of power.
Especially Richard II:
For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison’d by their wives: some sleeping kill’d;
All murder’d: for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
To monarchise, be fear’d and kill with looks,
Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
As if this flesh which walls about our life,
Were brass impregnable, and humour’d thus
Comes at the last and with a little pin
Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!
Cover your heads and mock not flesh and blood
With solemn reverence: throw away respect,
Tradition, form and ceremonious duty,
For you have but mistook me all this while:
I live with bread like you, feel want,
Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus,
How can you say to me, I am a king?
Shakespeare’s language transcends the ages: something
other 16th century favourites, such as bear baiting and
codpieces, have failed to do. A line from Shakespeare can
illuminate a contemporary event and bring new meaning and
understanding, including to the workplace.
Business knows when to cut its losses (or take its profits)
and move on. As ever, Shakespeare assembled the right
words – particularly in his own farewell to the theatre from
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
This article is an edited version of a speech given by Matthew
Gibbs in 2013. Matthew is the General Manager, Media and
Communications at the Australian Securities Exchange,
and a member of the Business Alumni Network
New insights from Shakespeare: Matthew Gibbs
THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY BUSINESS SCHOOL ALUMNI MAGAZINE 2014 THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY BUSINESS SCHOOL ALUMNI MAGAZINE 201410 11
Construction has been underway since
July last year and the Business School’s
innovative, ambitious and world-class
centre of learning is beginning to
The $250 million Abercrombie Precinct Redevelopment, as
it is known, is the most significant capital investment in the
Business School’s history.
The new facility will include six floors of teaching, learning and
administrative space with a 550-seat lecture theatre, three
300-seat theatres, learning hubs, 41 seminar rooms, eight
case study rooms, and a cafe.
Sydney Business Connect spoke to the University of Sydney’s
Project Delivery Team.
Q: Is the project on target?
A: The work has been tracking well against the program since
the design and construction contract was awarded to John
Holland in July last year. Of course, we have quite a challenge
ahead if we are to complete the remaining works by early
2015. We will be working on the structure, services, fitout and
facade concurrently over the next 12 months.
Q: What have you achieved so far?
A: The target was to complete the first basement concrete
pour before Christmas – this was successfully achieved.
Another key achievement was the development of a design
concept for the main atrium feature staircase, which spans
six floors. A number of concepts were developed by various
architectural firms. A successful design was endorsed by the
University in late December.
Stage 2 of the Abercrombie Precinct Redevelopment is the
delivery of student accommodation facing Abercrombie
Street, adjacent to the Business School. The project team
was successful in negotiating with John Holland to undertake
the construction of this facility in tandem with the Business
School project. Works will commence in March.
Despite a significant amount of plant and machinery on site
and more than 70,000 hours of work time, there has been no
lost time due to injuries incurred on the project.
COMING TO LIFE
Q: What have been the most interesting developments
since July 2013?
A: One of the most interesting events was a smoking
ceremony held at the start of the project. The development
is on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. For
this reason, John Holland invited local elder, Uncle Max, to
conduct a smoking ceremony to ward off the evil spirits and
to allow good spirits to enter.
Q: What will we see emerging over the next 12 months?
A: With the building scheduled for completion in early 2015,
over the next 12 months you will see the transformation of
the site from a hole in the ground to a reinforced concrete
structure, services/plant installation, facade erection, and
internal fitout and finishes.
Q: Is it going well?
A: Both the University’s Campus Infrastructure and Services
management team and the contractors are driven to deliver
this project in time for the first semester of teaching in 2015.
Over the past six months a strong relationship has developed
between the University and John Holland. We have worked
in close collaboration on the design and we have been able to
effectively resolve issues as they have arisen.
Another social media giant is just around
the corner, according to entrepreneur and
Business School graduate Thai Huynh.
“The University of Sydney Business School has provided me
with more than a degree,” says alumnus Thai Huynh
(BCom ’13). “It made me a globally minded and
Thai approached the Business School because he thought
his story might encourage other students and graduates to
consider a business start-up as an unconventional but highly
His story is indeed encouraging.
Born in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, he arrived alone in
Australia in 2007 at the age of 18. After a brief period in
Adelaide, he moved to Sydney to study for a Bachelor of
Commerce (Liberal Studies) degree. “The Business School
provided me with very practical skills,” Thai says. “It taught
me how to think.”
Thai’s ability to think outside the square was tested
last year when he helped facilitate a global youth leadership
conference for 800 people in strife-torn Egypt.
The conference was organised by AIESEC, a global not-for-
profit organisation that seeks to transform talented young
people into globally responsible leaders.
“It was humbling to know that I was working at the conference
with the next generation of leaders who could focus on world
issues at a time of such civil unrest, and it inspired me to
make a bigger contribution when I returned to Australia,” says
Thai, who is a director of AIESEC’s Australian chapter.
Now 24, Thai is applying the skills gained at the Business
School to two start-up businesses. One is Jeansfit, a made-
to-order online clothing outlet catering to the needs of
customers who fall outside standard sizes for jeans. The other
is Kapcher, described as a “global real-time online community
marketplace for photographers and videographers”.
“Kapcher connects event organisers to nearby photographers
and videographers who can capture their next big moment
within their budget and within their needs,” Thai says.
Incubated while Thai was studying at the Business School,
Kapcher was the runner up in the recent Sydney Startup
Weekend competition and a finalist in the prestigious
contest’s global level.
“The Sydney event allowed my team to network, make
connections and meet potential investors,” he says.
While many start-ups fail, Thai says that some succeed
spectacularly. “I am convinced there is another Facebook or
Snapchat out there just waiting to be developed,” he says.
Thai believes that students and graduates with an idea ought
to devote three to six months to it. “This allows time to
develop the idea, build a good team to execute it, examine the
market, make connections and attract investors,” he says. “If
the project fails, move on and apply what you have learnt to
the next start-up.”
It was the Business School’s practical, hands-on approach
that gave rise to Kapcher and provided Thai with the skills
to see it through. “When I reflect on my time at the Business
School, I realise that it was less about systems and programs
that change constantly, and more about the skills that are
relevant today and will remain so into the future,” he says.
THE UPSIDE OF
Aboriginal elder, Uncle Max, conducts a smoking ceremony at the
Thinking outside the square: Thai Huynh
THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY BUSINESS SCHOOL ALUMNI MAGAZINE 2014 THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY BUSINESS SCHOOL ALUMNI MAGAZINE 201412 13
Professor Stephen Satchell’s
apartment at E4 Great Court, Trinity
College, Cambridge, is comfortable but
not grand and is unlikely to attract a
second glance from a casual observer.
The apartment, or “rooms” as Professor
Satchell’s home is more accurately
termed in university circles, was once
much larger but today consists of an
unremarkable living room, a bedroom, a
library, a bathroom and a kitchen.
Indeed, the only hint that there is
actually something special about this
place comes by way of a leafless
and rather forlorn apple tree which
struggles in the cold of the British
winter outside the living room window.
“Legend has it that my tree is
descended from the one that dropped
the apple and thus gave rise to Sir
Isaac Newton’s theories on the forces
of gravity,” Professor Satchell says.
“But the story of the falling apple itself
is possibly a myth,” he hastens to add.
The historic reality of the falling apple
remains open to debate, but it is
certain that Sir Isaac Newton, like
Professor Satchell, was a Fellow of
Trinity College, Cambridge, and again,
like Professor Satchell, lived at E4
“While the rooms have changed a
great deal, many physicists and
mathematicians want to see them
and I have lots of visitors,” Professor
Satchell says. “One Brazilian scientist
was so emotionally moved that he
This year, Professor Satchell joins the
University of Sydney Business School’s
Discipline of Finance but will remain
a Fellow of Trinity College and retain
the rooms that were once home to the
English physicist and mathematician
widely regarded as one of the most
influential scientists of all time.
A key publication in what became
known as the “scientific revolution”, Sir
Isaac’s book, Mathematical Principles
of Natural Philosophy published in
1687, laid the foundations for most of
His work, Principia, dealing with
the laws of motion and universal
gravitation, shaped science’s view of
the physical universe for more than
Sir Isaac studied and taught at
Cambridge before becoming a Fellow
of Trinity College in 1667. It was a
position that normally required the
holder to take holy orders in the
Church of England – a tradition Sir
Isaac managed to avoid with the help
of King Charles II.
“I have no doubt that he had many deep
thoughts in these rooms,” Professor
Satchell says. “It is just a magnificent
place to live and work when I am
Professor Satchell understands that
another Trinity alumnus, philosopher,
mathematician and historian Bertrand
Russell, also occupied the rooms at
E4 Great Court, as did philosopher
Charlie Broad. “The rooms were more
extensive then and it said that Broad
used what is now the porter’s lodge
for his model train set,” Professor
Professor Charles Martin, a
distinguished Professor of Philosophy
at the University of Sydney (1966–
1971) recalled during a visit to
Professor Satchell’s home that as a
doctoral student, he was supervised
there by Broad.
Coordinator: Kathryn Cowe
Writer: Trevor Watson
Sydney Business Connect uses
Titan Gloss coated paper which is
made 100% carbon neutral, FSC
certified, and Chlorine Free.
Contact the Business
Kathryn Cowe and
Alumni Relations Managers
The University of Sydney
The University of Sydney
NSW 2006 AUSTRALIA
T +61 2 9114 1128
F +61 2 9114 1140
In consultation with staff, alumni and industry
representatives, the Business School established five
cross-disciplinary networks last year to undertake research
in areas likely to benefit Australia’s economy and its people.
In recent months, these networks have engaged with
stakeholders to prepare for several strategic research
projects in 2014.
BUSINESS OF HEALTH NETWORK
The Business of Health Network has been connecting
with researchers in a range of disciplines. It has also
built stronger links with the Charles Perkins Centre, the
University’s obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease
A series of workshops developing multidisciplinary project
proposals are underway.
The ‘Conversations in Health’ series of discussions will
continue throughout 2014.
RESEARCH NETWORK (BERN)
BERN has established an extensive network of more than
200 researchers and practitioners working in corporate,
social and environmental sustainability.
In 2014, BERN will promote sustainable business practices
through a range of initiatives including:
-- collaborative research with EY (formerly Ernst Young)
and Net Balance
-- a symposium entitled Corporate Social Responsibility:
New Challenges, New Concepts
-- a symposium on business and biodiversity in collaboration
with the Sydney Environment Institute (SEI) and
-- workshops on research methods in the area of
INNOVATION AND CHANGE
The Innovation and Change Research Network has engaged
with researchers across a range of disciplines as well as the
representative of a venture-capital organisation in an effort
to develop research proposals. It has also looked at local and
international institutions to pinpoint exemplary innovation
practices around the world.
This will contribute to several initiatives in the coming
-- a networking event to link researchers with practitioners
in the venture-capital industry
-- a forum inviting chief strategy officers from leading
-- a research symposium on design thinking in business and
-- the establishment of an invention studio in the Business
School’s CBD campus.
AND PERFORMANCE SYSTEMS
RESEARCH NETWORK (LPPS)
The initial meeting of the network’s Business Reference
Group in December 2013 introduced the preliminary results
of the first research projects undertaken by LPPS and
identified specific research priorities and projects.
This year, LPPS will work with corporate members who wish
to support specific research projects through access to their
organisations, links to other industry contacts, and in-kind
and financial support.
AUSTRALIA CHINA BUSINESS
In 2013, the Australia China Business Research Network
consolidated its public profile with high-impact reports on
Chinese investment in Australia. This work provides the
basis for external and internal expansion in 2014.
The network will expand its public outreach through
commercial consultancies currently under negotiation with
state governments and peak industry bodies.
Broad enquiry, big ideas, fresh insights,
best practice: it’s all on offer from our
research networks in the year ahead.
IF ONLY THE
WALLS COULD TALK
From physics to fiction, Cambridge University’s Trinity College boasts numerous
esteemed alumni – and one in particular is the apple of its eye.
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